Game Development Reference
However, it was not until his experience as an unofficial consultant on Stargate
Wo r l d s that he began to appreciate how a good story would engage students and thus
provide a “hook” for the presentation of physics lessons. It was important to him to
have students enjoy the experience and not view the game as an interactive problem
set. Thus, he brought Writers Cabal (the authors of this chapter) aboard as story
consultants to help develop a story that would not only engage university students
but also motivate them to learn physics.
Narrative Considerations in an Educational MMO
With this in mind, Writers Cabal set upon the task of defining the world in accor-
dance to Futur-E-Scape's parameters. Despite its prevalence in traditional MMOs,
Dr. Rademacher was adamant that there be no player-initiated violence in his world.
In addition, because of the reluctance of some educational professionals to embrace
game-based learning, traditional tests would have to be somehow incorporated into
These requirements all addressed educator concerns. Any software that seemed
to promote violence, however indirectly, would not be welcome in schools. Fur-
thermore, teachers often have to show “proof of learning” through tests and other
assessment methods. Most of the traditional educational system is set up this way.
The mandate that there be no player-initiated violence was not as damning as
one might think. With the rise of MMOs for children, there are likely to be even
more non-violent offerings. This does not mean there can't be an antagonist, only
that this would be a different type of MMO. For PAST , the antagonist appears as
Disruptures, magical rifts in space-time that threaten to tear apart the fabric of the
Merging Pedagogy and Narrative
Developing new IP. Since Writers Cabal's primary concern was player engagement,
our approach to developing new IP was not that dissimilar to that of an entertain-
ment product. The learning objectives and lesson plans were important considera-
tions, but they would be integrated once the preliminary backstory was established.
Writers Cabal began by proposing several high-level concepts that fit the require-
Several of these initial concepts did find their way into the eventual story. For in-
stance, the idea that virtual sports tournaments would be an excellent way to explore
physics applications gave rise to the Olympics-styled interplanetary Magical Games
featuring archery, soccer, and horse racing. An idea about saving indigenous species
that were literally fading or blinking out morphed into a plotline about Disruptures
affecting the universe. An epic tale about an apprentice racing to repair a magical rift
was transformed into the journey of a star athlete chosen to investigate the secrets of
the ancients in order to save the Realms.