Tracy Fullerton, Director, USC Game Innovation LabTrack 4 GAMES IN K-12
Even before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the USC Game Innovation Lab was in the process of creating an educational version of its award-winning game Walden for classrooms. When the pandemic hit, the lab made the game free to all educators, including parents who were homeschooling, teachers moving online and those in hybrid classrooms.
The game is an open world experience where players take on the role of the author Henry David Thoreau as he builds his cabin in Walden Woods and lives simply in nature on the shores of Walden pond. Players must survive in the woods, providing for their basic needs, but also seek inspiration from those woods, living a life in balance. The results of offering this game to teachers during a time when the world was sheltering in place due to COVID, produced an incredible surge of demand for this virtual version of Thoreau's experiment. Teachers have shared back their experiences in how this unusual game engaged their students in ways that surprised and delighted them.
In this presentation, we will discuss the outcomes and learnings of this new educational version for game developers, and examine how the creativity of teachers and students in using this game can serve as an inspiration for those designing playful learning environments.
Attendees will all be given access to Walden: EDU, including all accompanying curriculum, and insights on how these materials were developed with input from teachers, students, content experts, evaluators and outreach consultants.