Summary:What can the writing process teach students and teachers about video game design, and how can game design expand our understanding of writing genres? Read about this middle school teacher who used Gamestar Mechanic to engage his students in digital writing and connected learning. From creation to peer revision and, finally, publication on a gaming website where others played the games and offered feedback, he and his students discovered the power that technology can have in understanding composing and creative processes and providing new avenues for writing. For teachers who are reluctant to engage in digital work (or who are ready to take some new steps), this article can provide encouragement, guidance, and testimony about how students learn and respond to such experiences.
I found the answer I was looking for when I attended a session at the National Writing Project’s National Meeting in 2010. The presenter of this session was Alan Gershenfeld, the founder and President of E-Line Media. He introduced video game design as a genre of digital literacy and I was instantly amazed at the possibilities of this concept. Gershenfeld showed me a writing genre that used the conventional writing process, collaboration, problem solving, and critical thinking in an engaging and innovative way. I saw many learning opportunities that would involve the use of game design; including some very cool possibilities for writing in the content areas. Mr. Gershenfeld introduced Gamestar Mechanic, the game design platform that he helped to create. He was proposing that teachers should use video games, and game design, as an instructional tool and I was totally on board.