Who helped?
Bill Davis,
Patrick Garrett, Jacqui Davis,
and Heather Davis
Jake Gebhardt
Collaboration between English and
Computer Science Departments
“Nerds” write
Ren’Py script using
creative writers
adapt or write text
Visual Novel is field
tested in English
Technical writers
* The “Nerds who developed the Python programming language named it after Monty Python,
[which was] designed to reflect the idea that programming should be fun” (O’Meara 121).
Why “The Raven”?
 It is a canonical work of American Literature, and can
be easily incorporated into a unit teaching students to
read and analyze poetry prior to writing about it.
 It is relatively short.
 Poe wrote about how he wrote “The Raven” in his
essay, “The Philosophy of Composition,” which we
will also read and discuss in class.
 It lends itself well to visual treatment.
Gamification Principles
at work in “The Raven” game
 A gamified learning environment takes the elements that make
games engaging, fun, and interesting and uses them to enhance the
classroom experience (Kapp, 2012).
 Multimodal features allow for better comprehension and retention.
 Text, images, sound, and even limited kinesthetic elements
(keyboard + mouse) are incorporated to address various learning
 A limited amount of text appears on the screen at any given time,
which narrows the scope of the analysis, helping students
compartmentalize their analyses.
 The self-paced aspect of the game allows students to repeat difficult
or confusing sections, so there is less concern about failure.
The Lesson Plan
Note: This week’s lessons follow a general lecture about
the elements of poetry.
Tuesday 1 ½ hours:
 Lecture: The Gothic of Edgar Allan Poe; Poe’s “The
Philosophy of Composition,” his discussion of how he
wrote “The Raven”
(Students should have read “The Raven” and “The Philosophy of Composition”
 Handout: vocabulary list
 Homework: Play the “The Raven” game, study vocabulary
Thursday 1 ½ hours:
 Quiz: “The Raven” vocabulary (10-15 min.)
 In-class writing: (major essay grade) Using the prompt
discovered in “The Raven” game.
About Ren’Py
 It is Open-source—use and modify it as desired.
 Developers favor open-source software, so online
support is plentiful through user forums.
 It uses Python scripting language, so even novice
coders can succeed with it.
 It’s FREE—no fees or royalties
 Ren’Py’s main drawback comes from the nature of the
visual novel—more thinking than action. As a “game”
it cannot compete with the likes of Assasin’s Creed or
Tomb Raider (which teach some history and culture).
Games on
What is a Visual Novel?
 A visual novel resembles a mixed-media novel.
 The graphics are mostly static, often featuring animetype illustration, though any sort of art, photography
or video may be used.
 Player interaction involves clicking to make choices,
which keep the text, graphics and sound moving.
 Many visual novels contain multiple storylines,
accessed by the player at intermittent multiple-choice
decision points.
 Visual novels generally use first person narration from
the point of view of only one character.
The Game Creation Process
I created a list of vocabulary words and put them on, a free online
service that aids students learning vocabulary.
I created a list of essay prompts, one for each student.
Jacqui followed the instructions on Ren’Py, and wrote the code for the game. It
took three days with no prior knowledge of Python. She reported that:
The Ren’Py website, provides a helpful tutorial and FAQ page.
If she didn’t find the answer she needed there, a quick Google search
provided ready answers on other forums.
Bill read the poem for the voice-over track. Jacqui used Audacity, another free
open source program, for editing the audio.
Jacqui photographed Patrick with a raven puppet we bought on eBay.
Using FREE royalty free music, from, Jacqui rendered video
segments of the poem with background music, and voice-over to complement
the photos. (Any software will work here, but she used Sony Vegas.)
Ren’Py Supports the Following File Types:
In Conclusion
 The potential for presenting literature using the visual novel genre is
virtually unlimited. The format would lend itself well to various works of
literature and creative writing, though original work and work in the public
domain presents the least challenges.
 The visual novel approach is appropriate for visual learners, auditory
learners, and even for kinesthetic learners (keyboard + mouse).
 Gamified learning is not new, but with today’s students more interested in
social media, text-messages, and electronic games than in face-to-face
instruction or books, gamification has gained mainstream acceptance.
 A project in Ren’Py could connect English and Computer Science curricula
in a way that would be beneficial for both disciplines.
 The process of creating a game to encourage students to engage more fully
with literature can be inexpensive and relatively simple. No special skills are
required beyond the ability to follow directions.
 The true test of “The Raven” game will come in the classroom.
Click image to go to the download page for “The Raven” game.
Works Cited
“Audacity.” Web. 15 May 2014.
Cavallaro, Dani. Anime and the visual novel: narrative structure, design and play at the
crossroads of animation and computer games. McFarland & Company, 2010. 78–
79. Print.
Kapp, Karl. The Gamification of Learning and Instruction: Game-Based Methods and
Strategies for Training and Education. San Francisco: Pfeiffer, 2012. Print.
Klug, Chris, and Josiah Lebowitz. Interactive Storytelling for Video Games: A PlayerCentered Approach to Creating Memorable Characters and Stories. Burlington,
MA:Focal Press, 2011. Print.
MacLeod, Kevin. “Royalty Free Music.” Incompetech.
2014. Web. 20 May 2014.
O’Meara, Tom. A Miscellany of Britain. London: Arcturus, 2012. Print.
“Quizlet.” Quizlet. Quizlet LLC: 2014. Web. 5 September 2013.
"The Ren'Py Visual Novel Engine.” Ren'Py. Web. 4 April 2014.

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