The Shakespeare Player game is a mobile app which allows players to work together to create an adaptation of a Shakespeare play. The initial play provided is Romeo and Juliet.
Studies of game design show that the way to keep players engaged and interested is to provide opportunities for autonomy, social belonging, and proficiency. The Shakespeare Player was designed with these principles in mind.
This game is highly educational and a lot of fun, as it teaches players about Shakespeare while it allows them to individually express themselves and collaborate with others to create a social work of art. The game initiator is the director, who determines the setting of the play and casts the parts. The cast members read Shakespeare’s text and what it means, and then write adlibs of their lines while they see others’ lines and adlibs.
In providing a vehicle for players to analyze literary text and restate it, the game meets many of the Common Core Standards for English Language Literacy for 6th to 8th graders.
When players read a line and interpret it for a different setting, they demonstrate a wide variety of Common Core Standards, including:
o CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.7.3 Analyze how particular elements of a story or drama interact (e.g., how setting shapes the characters or plot). o CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.6.2 Determine a theme or central idea of a text and how it is conveyed through particular details; provide a summary of the text distinct from personal opinions or judgments. o CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.6.4 Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the impact of a specific word choice on meaning and tone. o CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.7.2 Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze its development over the course of the text; provide an objective summary of the text.
When players read others’ line interpretations and discuss their own with others, they demonstrate more Common Core Standards, including:
o CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.6.1 Cite textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text. o CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.8.5 Compare and contrast the structure of two or more texts and analyze how the differing structure of each text contributes to its meaning and style.
If the classroom teacher augments the game by showing a production of the play, this prepares the student to meet the standard:
o CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.6.7 Compare and contrast the experience of reading a story, drama, or poem to listening to or viewing an audio, video, or live version of the text, including contrasting what they "see" and "hear" when reading the text to what they perceive when they listen or watch.
The game naturally lends itself to scaffolding in learning because of the variety of cast parts. Thanks to Shakespeare’s plot craftsmanship and three-dimensional characters, even a less skilled player with just a few lines can feel significant to the plot and project. For example, in Romeo and Juliet, the first two characters, Sampson and Gregory, have few lines, but they are clever and set up the entire play. This helps students to meet the standard:
o CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.6.10 By the end of the year, read and comprehend literature, including stories, dramas, and poems, in the grades 6-8 text complexity band proficiently, with scaffolding as needed at the high end of the range.
Playtesting of The Shakespeare Player showed that the game is highly successful in both entertaining and educating its players. Even a test subject who was not a Shakespeare fan said he enjoyed it a lot and couldn’t wait to play the entire game. We are confident that students in middle school will feel the same.