Lesson 1: A Mythical Tale
Students will learn about myths and storytelling through games.
Students will use the structure of a game to distinguish different elements of storytelling, such as character and plot.
Worksheet 1; pen or pencil; computer access
Time required: 45-50 minutes, plus game design time
What to do:
1. Explain that a myth is a story about the early history of a people or about naturally occurring events, such as the rising of tides or the cycles of the moon. Ask students to name any characters from famous myths they know. (Examples might include Zeus, Thor, and Hercules, among others.) Myths were a key element of early cultures, and you can find myths from all regions, periods, and peoples, including Greek, Roman, Indian, Norse, Chinese, Japanese, Egyptian, Mayan, Yoruban (West African), Australian Aboriginal, and more.
2. Discuss with students why we still study and enjoy myths. Ask students what can be gained from reading myths. Remind them that myths often contain characters who are important gods in the myths' respective cultures. A historian would not look to myths for many historical facts but could learn about historical cultural practices and beliefs. Also point out that myths sometimes hold valuable lessons or wisdom; for example, the myth of Narcissus reminds us not to be vain or too proud. Another reason to read myths is that they are often very entertaining.
3. Explain that a myth has a structure similar to other stories. A myth usually contains main characters, a setting, conflicts, and a plot.
Using the student worksheet:
4. Distribute Worksheet 1 and tell students that they are going to explore myths in a whole new way by envisioning a myth as a video game. After studying a myth, they will sketch out a plan to turn the myth into a game. Using the website Gamestar Mechanic, they will then be able to build the video game and make it available for others to play.
5. Divide the class into small groups. Instruct groups to choose a myth they know, or to use library materials or the Internet to conduct research and find a myth that interests them. If needed, find several myths, print out copies, and post them around the classroom for students to study.
6. Instruct each group to study its myth and use their worksheet to list the myth's key elements: characters, setting, conflicts and challenges, characters' goals, individual actions, sequence of events, conclusion, and message. Next, have students sketch out how the myth could be turned into a game.
7. Regroup as a class and discuss how each group addressed the following challenges:
- How did you translate the myth's conflicts and challenges into game action?
- How did you communicate the name of the myth to the player of the game?
- How did you communicate the myth's story to the player of the game?
Encourage your students in grades 7-12 to submit their video game designs to the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards for the chance to earn scholarships and awards. Click here for information and registration details. Collaborations are welcome!
TIP: Click here and discover how easy it is to use the online Gamestar Mechanic game design software. This special section for teachers includes an overview of the program as well as a Quick Start Guide.