Tag Archives: video games

Adventure Video Games that Explore Depression and More

“In the coming adventure video game Sea of Solitude, the main character a young woman named Kay — navigates a partly submerged city as she faces a multitude of red-eyed scaly creatures. None are as terrifying as her own personal demons.” L. Parker, The New York Times

In the video game Sea of Solitude, the main character Kay, navigates a partly submerged city and fights to overcome loneliness. Credit- Electronic Arts

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Excerpt: Depressed and Anxious? These Video Games Want to Help By Laura Parker, The New York Times

“As the game progresses, Kay realizes the creatures she is encountering are humans who turned into monsters when they became too lonely. To save herself, she fights to overcome her own loneliness. Kay was modeled after the game’s creative director, Cornelia Geppert of Jo-Mei Games, an independent game studio, who struggled after a 2013 breakup. ‘I felt like I was trapped in a cage,’ Ms. Geppert, 37, said of her experience. Sea of Solitude, which Electronic Arts will publish this year, is among a growing number of video games that are tackling mental health issues.

Adventure video game Celeste.

Last year, a game called Celeste explored depression and anxiety through a protagonist who had to avoid physical and emotional obstacles.

Video game Hellblade- Senua’s Sacrifice.

In 2017’s fantasy action-adventure video game Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice, a young Celtic warrior deals with psychosis. Other games in recent years, including Night in the Woods and Pry, have delved into self-identity, anger issues and post-traumatic stress disorder. All followed the 2013 interactive fiction game Depression Quest, which asked players to step into the shoes of a character living with depression…’Mental health is becoming a more central narrative in our culture, with greater efforts to normalize mental health challenges,’ said Eve Crevoshay, executive director of Take This, a nonprofit that educates video game developers on best practices around portraying mental health.

Stardew Valley — which does not punish players.

To date, most of the games tackling mental health have come from independent makers, which are typically more willing and able to take risks by exploring unusual subject matter. Sea of Solitude points to a shift: a gamble by Electronic Arts, one of the industry’s largest publishers and better known for its Madden football and Battlefield war games, to invest in the topic… After the 2016 simulation role-playing game Stardew Valley — which does not punish players for not completing tasks and creates a slow-paced atmosphere where the objective is to take care of a run-down farm — was released, Eric Barone, the game’s creator, received hundreds of messages, he said.

One story that comes to mind is a person whose little brother had autism, and as a result had great difficulty in relating with him,’ said Mr. Barone, 31. But playing Stardew Valley caused him to open up and allowed the two brothers to bond in a way that was never possible before.’ Some makers are now developing games to explicitly promote better mental health.”

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

NOTE: Lessons can also be used with native English speakers.

Level: Intermediate – Advanced


Language Skills: Reading, writing, and speaking. Vocabulary and grammar activities are included.


Time: Approximately 2 hours.


Materials: Student handout (from this lesson) and access to news article.


Objective: Students will read and discuss the article
with a focus on improving reading comprehension and improving oral skills. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing.

I. Pre-Reading Activities: KWL Chart

The K-W-L chart is used to activate students’ background knowledge of a

topic in order to enhance their comprehension skills.

 

II. While Reading Activities: Word Inference

Directions: Students are to infer the meanings of the words in bold taken from the article. They may use a dictionary, thesaurus, and Word Chart for assistance.

  1. In the game the humans you encounter are really monsters.
  2. A growing number of video games that are tackling mental health issues.
  3. The player navigates into a partly submerged city.
  4. Many people suffer from anxiety.
  5. The protagonist in the game had to avoid emotional obstacles.
  6. Other games have explored anger issues and post-traumatic stress disorder.
  7. Some games delve into self-identity.
  8. All games followed the  interactive fiction game Depression Quest.
  9. Players step into the shoes of a character living with depression.
  10. The games are trying to normalize mental health challenges.

 

Grammar Focus: Structure and Usage

Directions: The following groups of sentences are from the article. One of the sentences in each group contains a grammatical  error. Students are to identify the sentence (1, 2, or 3 ) from each group that contains the grammatical error.

I

  1. Mental health is becoming an more central narrative.
  2. Asking someone to play with you sets a very different vibe.
  3. The nonprofit is experimenting with a few different game styles.

II

  1. Game developers know these are not easy changes to make.
  2. They  hope to test the new game on next year.
  3. Her own personal demons were terrifying.

III

  1. Kay were modeled after the game’s creative director.
  2. In this game a young Celtic warrior deals with psychosis.
  3. One in five American adults lives with a mental illness.

 

Reading Comprehension: True /False/NA-Statements

Directions: Review the following statements from the reading.  If  a statement is true they mark it T. If the statement is  not applicable, they mark it NA. If the statement is false they  mark  it F and provide the correct answer. 

  1. In the video game  Sea of Solitude, the main character is a woman named Minerva.
  2. As the game progresses Kay realizes the creatures she encounters are really aliens.
  3. Kay was modeled after the game’s creative director.
  4. Cornelia Geppert is the creative director of the game Game of Thrones.
  5. Ms. Geppert plays the game often. 
  6. A game called Celeste explores the stars and planets.
  7. Currently, most of the games tackling mental health have come from independent makers.
  8. Some people feel that the interactive nature of games made them  less effective than film or television.
  9. The  game Stardew Valley does punishes players for not completing tasks.
  10. Some makers are now developing games to explicitly promote better mental health.

Discussion Questions for Comprehension /Writing

Directions: Place students in groups and have them discuss the following questions/statements. Afterwards, have the groups share their thoughts as a class. To reinforce the ideas, students can write an essay on one of the topics mentioned.

  1. Do you think video games will actually help people with mental or emotional problems? Explain why or why not.
  2. Have you or a friend played one of the  video games mentioned in the article? If yes, describe the experience. If no, would you like to play one of the games?
  3. The article states, Some in the industry said the interactive nature of games made them more effective than film or television at dealing with mental health. Embodying a video game character who suffers from depression might leave a deeper impression of the challenges of the illness than simply watching a film about the same character, for example.”  Do you agree with this idea? Explain why or why not.
  4. Do you see connections between the increase in video games that help people with depression or anxiety and incidents happening in the news?

Group Project

COMMON SENSE EDUCATION: Creating online Video Games!

Directions:  Have groups visit the Common Sense Education site to learn how to create their own video games. Groups can share their finished products with the class.

“On this list, we’ve curated great options for entry-level designers that ease kids into building stuff. We’ve also made sure to include tools that help students create games that feel authentic and that help students obtain skills they can use when they level up to more pro-grade software.”  https://www.commonsense.org/education/top-picks/game-making-tools-for-schools

1-Minute Free Writing Exercise

Directions: Allow students 1 minute to write down one new idea they’ve learned from the reading.  also ask them to write down one thing they did not understand in the reading.  Review the responses as a class.

ANSWER KEY

Video Games: A Possible Cure for Dyslexia?

Dyslexia is a learning disability often characterized by difficulty with reading comprehension, fluency, word recognition, decoding and spelling. Children  with dyslexia have a neurological disorder that causes their brains to process and interpret information differently.  Researchers at Oxford University feel that playing  video games can help correct many problems associated with dyslexia.

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer key.

The quick changes between images and sounds in video games could help dyslexic individuals improve their ability to read, scientists suggest. Photo- ScienceNews.

Excerpt: One More Reason To Play Video Games: Beating Dyslexia by  Linda Poon NPR

“Most parents prefer that their children pick up a book rather than a game controller. But for kids with dyslexia, action video games may be just what the doctor ordered. Dyslexia is one of the most common learning disabilities, affecting an estimated 5 to 10 percent of the world’s population.Dyslexia affects five to ten percent of the population. Photo- FoxNews.

Many approaches to help struggling readers focus on words and phonetics, but researchers at Oxford University say dyslexia is more of an attention issue. These video games require you to respond very quickly, to shift attention to one part of the screen to another.When people with dyslexia had to shift their attention between sight and sound, their reaction was delayed. And they had significantly more trouble shifting attention from visual to audio than the other way around. Scientists today still don’t agree on what causes dyslexia, but one theory says it has something to do with a faulty nerve pathway from the eyes to the back of the brain that is responsible for guiding both visual and auditory attention. When this network malfunctions, people can’t properly combine what they hear and see for the brain to process the information. One explanation for this may be what psychologists call visual capture, says Jeffrey Gilger, an expert in language and learning disabilities at the University of California, Merced.Gilger cautions that while some dyslexic people do have attention deficit, it is not the underlying cause of every type of dyslexia. Some people may appear to lack focus, but that doesn’t necessarily signal that they have attention problems.”

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

Level: Intermediate -Advanced Language Skills: Reading, writing, speaking and listening. Vocabulary and grammar activities are included. Time: Approximately 2 hours. Materials: Student handouts (from this lesson) access to news article, and video. Objective: Students will read and discuss the article with a focus on improving reading comprehension and learning new vocabulary. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing.

I. Pre-Reading Activities

Stimulating background knowledge

Brainstorming Directions: Place students in groups, ask students to think about what they already know about  the topic.  Next, have students look at the picture(s) in the text and generate ideas or words that may be connected to the article. Debrief as a class and list these ideas on the board.Students can use this great Brainstorming chart from Kootation.com

Great Brainstorming chart from Kootation.com

 

II. While Reading Activities

Vocabulary

Word Inference Directions: Students are to infer the meanings of the words in bold taken from the article. They may use a dictionary, thesaurus, and Word Chart from  Education Oasis for assistance.

  1. Dyslexia is one of the most common learning disabilities.
  2. These video games require you to respond very quickly.
  3. They had significantly more trouble shifting attention from visual to audio.
  4. We should also be training shifting attention from sound to visual stimuli.
  5. Making the association between a word and how it sounds might be easier.
  6. When this network malfunctions, people can’t properly combine what they hear and see.
  7. The brain needs to process the information.
  8. The dyslexic group took longer than typical readers to respond.
  9. We were very surprised that there was sort of this asymmetry.
  10. As human beings we prefer visual stimuli.

 Word Chart By Education Oasis

 

Reading Comprehension

True /False/NA-Statements Directions: Review the following statements from the reading.  If  a statement is true they mark it T.  If the statement is  not applicable, they mark it NA. If the statement is false they  mark  it F and provide the correct answer.

  1. Most parents prefer that their children pick up a game controller.
  2. For kids with dyslexia action video games may be helpful.
  3. Dyslexia is an uncommon learning disability.
  4. Dyslexia was identified in the U.S. 20 years ago.
  5. An estimated 5 to 10 percent of the world’s population is affected by dyslexia.
  6. Researchers at Oxford University say dyslexia is more of speaking issue.
  7. Scientists today have agreed on what causes dyslexia.
  8. One theory says it has to do with a faulty nerve pathway from the eyes to the back of the brain.
  9. There is a cure for dyslexia.
  10. People who appear to lack focus have attention problems.

 Grammar Focus

Structure and Usage Directions: The following groups of sentences are from the article. One of the sentences in each group contains a grammatical  error. Students are to identify the sentence (1, 2, or 3 ) from each group that contains the grammatical error.

I

  1. Most parents prefer that their children pick up a book.
  2. Dyslexia is one of the most commons learning disabilities.
  3. There are many approaches to help struggling readers.

II

  1. Programs emphasize training the brain’s attention system.
  2. These video game require you to respond very quickly.
  3. We should also be shifting attention from sound to visual stimuli.

III

  1. Scientists today still don’t agree on what causes dyslexia.
  2. As human being we prefer visual stimuli.
  3. You’re trying to get the sound to align with the vision.

III. Post Reading Tasks

Reading Comprehension Check

WH-How Questions Directions: Have students use the  WH-question format to discuss or to write the main points from the article. Who or What is the article about? Where does the action/event take place? When does the action/event take place? Why did the action/event occur? How did the action/event occur?

Discussion/Writing Exercise

Directions: Place students in groups and have them answer the following questions. Afterwards, have the groups share their thoughts as a class. To reinforce the ideas, students can write an essay on one of the following discussion topics.

  1. Restate this idea in your own words, As human beings we prefer visual stimuli. When you’re trying to listen to someone on TV and the sound doesn’t match the mouth moving, it throws you off. You’re trying to get the sound to align with the vision, not the vision with the sound.”
  2. Do you think playing video games can improve skills in general? Which skills?
  3. Do you like to play video games?  How often do you play? Provide reasons for your answer.
  4. What are the most significant ideas in this article?

IV. Listening Activity   

Video ClipWhat is dyslexia? – Kelli Sandman-Hurley TED-Ed “Dyslexia affects up to 1 in 5 people, but the experience of dyslexia isn’t always the same. This difficulty in processing language exists along a spectrum — one that doesn’t necessarily fit with labels like “normal” and “defective.” Kelli Sandman-Hurley urges us to think again about dyslexic brain function and to celebrate the neurodiversity of the human brain.”   Video Link

 While Listening Activities

True /False/NA-Statements Directions: Review the statements with students before the watching the video.  As students listen to the video if  a statement is true they mark it T.  If the statement is  not applicable, they mark it NA. If the statement is false they  mark  it F and provide the correct answer.

  1. When most people think of  dyslexia they think of seeing letters and words backwards.
  2. People with dyslexia see things differently from everyone else.
  3. People with  dyslexia have no trouble manipulating language.
  4. People with dyslexia will spell words phonetically.
  5. People with dyslexia  have to spend time  decoding.
  6. Dyslexia  never runs in families.
  7. Children are more likely to get dyslexia.
  8. Picasso, Muhammed Ali,  Cher,  Whoopi Goldberg, and Steven Spielberg all have some form of dyslexia.
  9. Cher has treated her dyslexia.
  10. People with dyslexia can physically change their brains and improve their reading.

Post-Listening Activities

Questions for Discussion Directions:Place students in groups and have them discuss the following questions. 1. After listening to this video has your personal idea of dyslexia changed in any way?   If yes, describe in what way.  If no, describe your original opinion. 2. Did  you agree with everything the speaker said?  Discuss which comments  you agreed with and which ones you tended not to agree with. Explain why. 3.  With your group members, make up questions that you would like to ask the speakers.

ANSWER KEY: Dyslexia