IF for homeschooling?

a friend of mine homeschools her two daughters. They asked if I could create an a historical simulation IF game for the girls that would allow them to practice their typing. It won’t actually be a part of their curriculum, just in addition to, something fun for them. I know most people seem to hate typing and hate the standard IF parser but it did strike me as a good use for Interactive Fiction games. I’ve seen the games the kids in my school district play in typing, (when they are not typing ‘jkjkjk’ blah, I substitute teach), and I would think reading and typing would be an improvement for them? Maybe? At least until keyboards become obsolete… thoughts?

Text based games are indeed a great way to improve typing speed. (I speak from experience. My typing speed drops jaws at temp agencies, and it’s directly due to time I spent playing GemStone in high school.)

However - is there a specific reason why your friend was thinking about a historical simulation?

If not - then, if the point is to help them practice typing, I would suggest either a) introducing them to some great existing games, or b) working with her daughters to find out what they’d consider fun, and then making a game that goes specifically with their interests. Either way, you’ll hit the ground running a lot faster than if you’re coding a game from scratch.

Using IF for teaching is a pretty interesting idea but something else you might consider if they are old enough is helping them write their own game. Have them do the research, come up with the descriptions, etc., but help them with the harder programming stuff.

Oh, sorry, they wanted the historical simulation. I talked with my friend and her girls, and they asked me for a Day in the Life in Jane Austen’s England, loosely. I had tried to see if either girl had any interest in programming, but neither do. I have two boys myself who like that kind thing but have no patience for a game without pictures. :frowning: Personally, I have a history degree and was a programmer so creating something like the historical IF would be interesting with or without an audience.

Oh, neat. That makes sense then.

It’s a pity Versu collapsed - the first demo games were Austen-inspired. (emshort.wordpress.com/2013/03/1 … ne-austen/) Versu didn’t involve typing, so not directly applicable; I was just thinking they might have found it nifty.

Good point on Versu, I had hoped to see an Android port of Versu come out at some point but that sadly never happened.

Not terribly Austenian, but might Nepstad’s old “1893: A World’s Fair Mystery” (with pictures) be of any interest?

Too bad Versu didn’t manage to broker a deal to become the official engine for the Pride and Prejudice and Zombies game adaptation!

I’d never heard of Versu, it sounds like it would have been very interesting. And thank you, yes, I think they would like “A World’s Fair Mystery”. There were a few old ones that I was thinking of suggesting, including the original “Adventure”. Whatever results from own attempts should be interesting to say the least… so far I have a bit to allow you to dress up putting on all the appropriate layers of clothing. You can even ring for a maid to help you dress. :slight_smile: Not for the masses, but let me tell you, between my husband and my 11 and 13 year old sons, girly stuff is sooo cool!!

I’ve also considered writing IF for children, especially to teach (not that I’ve considered writing historical simulations). IF, as well as other sorts of games, has a great potential to teach children about different subjects.

I’d play it, if you ever decide to make it public. :slight_smile:

This is nearly the exact pitch for Textfyre’s pivot from games to ed-tech. It’s a great idea, but building the historical content is not at all trivial. There are so many decisions to make in creating such a story.

What period? How accurate to facts and how much fiction? What setting? What characters (PC and NPC)? What will be the goal of the story? Will there be visual artifacts? Will the story refer to external references?

Of course I was looking at professionally written stories with serious education content and you’re just looking to supplement in an easy-mode manner, but it’s still more work than you think.

I’m doing an experiment at my school with an historical IF game about the Hanseatic League. The player is a merchant from Amsterdam on a spying mission in one of the Hanseatic cities. We are almost at the point of doing a classroom test. One thing I’ve learned is that in comparison to other curriculum design, writing historical IF for the classroom is a huge investment. I’m still uncertain if the educational gains/benefit is worth all the effort. On the other hand, this has been one of the most interesting projects for myself. I’ve certainly learned a lot about the subject and Inform 7. So maybe for our next project we will try and let the students themselves write descriptions for locations and objects or for dialogue.