As many of you probably know, last year Inkle Studios published a choice-based game called Pendragon. The story concerns the final days of King Arthur and some of his associates, after the fall of Camelot. The tale ends with a duel to the death between Arthur, or one of the other “heroes” of the game, and Arthur’s treacherous son Mordred.
Initially, at least, many of the game’s players praised the work’s storytelling but criticized its combat system, which seems to be a variant of chess. In my own experimenting with Pendragon, I’ve found that the combat system complements the storytelling quite well, though I’m not sure that students would enjoy learning the possible moves of the combat “pieces.”
Have any of you tried Pendragon at all? If so, what do you think of its educational potential?
It’s pretty clear to me that Pendragon could be used to teach about the latter part of the Arthurian legends, which do appear in some schools’ curricula. However, I’m wondering about other applications of the game, too.
For example, could Pendragon be helpful for teaching elements of literature, such as plot, setting, and theme. Or, could Pendragon be a powerful tool for teaching critical thinking?
Well, it could. Any IF technically could. But it doesn’t particularly seem like it would be the most effective way of hitting those learning objectives, especially given the potentially distracting combat elements. What is it about this game that makes it interesting to your from an educational standpoint? Do you see the combat as a way of drawing in a reluctant learner? Is it the graphical element or the high production values? Does that increased motivational aspect compensate for the loss of clarify or focus that a purer IF game would provide?
I think that 8bitAG makes a useful point about the combat elements in the story.
Part of the attraction of Pendragon for me, however, is the way the combat elements are not necessarily distracting from the narrative. For example, the story, like many games, is presented with a number of levels of difficulty. The beginners’ level is called “anecdotal,” and, as its name applies, it emphasizes the storytelling rather than the chess-like strategizing. It would be possible, and, perhaps likely, that, in an educational situation, students might never go beyond the anecdotal format.
Still, at any level of the story, the players have to make some ethically-tricky combat decisions. Many of the non-player characters are villagers, who, more often than not, are dangerous and hostile to the player-character. Still, if a player/character attacks a villager who is not an unambiguously homicidal foe, the player/character reflects on the morality of his or her actions. Such reflection, of course, contributes to the characterization of the player/character.
Thanks again, to 8bitAG for some thoughtful reactions.
Anyone else? I’d be quite interested in all replies.