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Using Narrative-Based Video Games to Teach Complex Literary and Philosophical Concepts

Listen and learn

Listen and learn : Research paper
Roundtable presentation

Wednesday, June 26, 1:00–2:00 pm
Location: 121AB, Table 5

Presentation 5 of 5
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Joseph Bernard  
The narrative-based video game is garnering increasing interest as an instructional tool. Explore how you can use narrative-based video games as a vehicle to teach complex literary and philosophical concepts within the English classroom.

Audience: Curriculum/district specialists, Teachers, Professional developers
Attendee devices: Devices useful
Attendee device specification: Smartphone: Android, iOS
Laptop: PC
Tablet: Android, iOS, Windows
Participant accounts, software and other materials: If curious, attendees can download the gaming platform Steam. This is where the game used in the presentation is sold.
Focus: Digital age teaching & learning
Topic: Game-based learning and gamification
Grade level: 9-12
Subject area: Language arts, Higher education
ISTE Standards: For Educators:
  • Stay current with research that supports improved student learning outcomes, including findings from the learning sciences.
  • Use technology to create, adapt and personalize learning experiences that foster independent learning and accommodate learner differences and needs.
  • Use assessment data to guide progress and communicate with students, parents and education stakeholders to build student self-direction.

Proposal summary


I have always been a proponent of the constructivist mindset, so my research naturally followed suit. Students in my courses and by extension in this research study are given the tools they need to succeed before I step into the role of facilitator. This allows students to build their own connections to the content while I help fill in any knowledge gaps or engage in small group discussions to engender further thought on the subject at hand.


I want to understand how narrative based video games can impact the literary abilities of secondary students as well as how those abilities translate to numerical performance on graded assessments, which includes essays. Based on what I want to uncover, I will be implementing an action research model of research that involves a mixed methods approach. A small scale study conducted in the classroom fits the action research model. The qualitative aspect of the study will allow me to understand how each of my students perceive their abilities before and after the virtual intervention by way of a pre and post questionnaire. After the post-test is conducted, their new found perceptions will be put to the test in the form of a literary analysis. The grades over said analysis will be compared to an analytical essay assigned last semester for variances in percentage increased or decreased to determine a relationship between perceptions and numerical data. The essay previously assigned did not involve the usage of video games and will therefore serve as the “control” group in this learning context, while the essay assigned after the usage of video games will be considered the “experimental group”.


This virtual intervention provided a way for students to engage with narrative-based video game to potentially increase numerical performance on formal literary assessments and provide a boost to literary and philosophical writing self-efficacy. Data gleaned from the study showed that there was indeed an increase in student self-efficacy not only in literary analytical ability, but also incorporating philosophical concepts into their writing. Actualizing this self-efficacy into numerical performance will take additional research which may feature pairing The Stanley Parable with another piece of fiction or utilizing another narrative-based video game entirely to help students translate confidence into performance. In any case, The Stanley Parable provides a meaningful and innovative tool for students to grasp the fundamentals of literary writing and increase confidence in their abilities to inculcate literary and philosophical concepts into any composition they set their mind to.


It's difficult to ignore the effect that video games are having on the students of today. Whether playing, streaming or watching others stream on Twitch, video games are a part of mainstream culture. As educators, it is our job to recognize these trends and evaluate whether or not we can use them to engage students in our content area and help them flourish as a critical thinker. This study serves as the first of many that I plan on doing to evaluate how the ever-increasing popularity of narrative based video gaming can be utilized to engage students in content, build up self-efficacy in their writing and perform even better on assessments. I hope this can serve as inspiration for other content areas to consider whether or not they too can use narrative based video games to help twenty first century learners achieve success.


Kelly Merlo

Craig White

Glen Newsom

More [+]


Joseph Bernard, Galveston College

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