Common Sense Review
Updated January 2015

Elegy for a Dead World

Compelling sci-fi world imagined -- and written -- by its players
Common Sense Rating 4
Teacher Rating (1 Teacher Review) 4
  • Use writing prompts to tell the story
  • Atmospheric scenes draw students in
  • Use writing prompts or erase them and come up with your own
  • Explore a variety of worlds
Charming graphics and a sense of intrigue draw kids into the writing process.
Browsing others' stories could expose students to some age-inappropriate material.
Bottom Line
With some teacher guidance, it offers an opportunity unlike anything else to get students to write stories and stretch their creative muscles.
Caryn Swark
Common Sense Reviewer
Classroom teacher
Common Sense Rating 4
Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return? 4

Beautiful sci-fi landscapes encourage your imagination to run wild. The opportunity to create worlds will keep students coming back.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer? 4

In its current state, there's not much explicit instruction -- but that's not necessarily a bad thing. Students get a wide world to explore and excellent writing prompts to guide them in their creations.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students? 4

There's not much need for onboarding, as the game is elegant enough to dive into. There are hints on the screen when necessary.

About our ratings and privacy evaluation.
How Can Teachers Use It?

Teachers can use Elegy for a Dead World as a whole-class experience, or to encourage struggling writers. They could use the world and stories provided here as a jumping-off point to get students to come up with their own sci-fi ideas. Students could even design their own world to add to the game -- not actually, but in the classroom. Since each world is also inspired by the writing of Lord Byron, Percy Shelley, and John Keats, classes studying these works could make connections between the game worlds and the writers' poems and imagery.

If the teacher previews some of the writing available on the site, it would be a great opportunity to read stories written by other kids and analyze them. The nature of the game will also make many kids more willing to go back and edit their work to improve it.  

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What's It Like?

Players are shapeless astronauts drifting through space. They can portal to one of three worlds named after the poets Byron, Keats, and Shelley. From there, they explore the gorgeous and sublime ruins of a mysterious alien civilization, stopping at pre-set points along the way to add their own story. Students can use the pre-set prompts (for example, one area says: "They say everything comes to an end. Here, in the sand, the first colony __________."). Or, they can erase the prompts and fill in their own words. Either way, they're encouraged to create the story and context of these worlds and locations through writing, which they can choose to publish online for other players to see. They can also read stories written by other players and offer "commendations" to the ones they particularly like.

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Is It Good For Learning?

Elegy for a Dead World won't necessarily teach students how to write, but it gives them a powerful platform to experiment with writing or exercise their writing skills once they learn them. The fill-in-the-blank prompts will be helpful to students who have trouble coming up with ideas or who just need a comfortable and engaging opportunity to express themselves. The eerie landscapes and background noises are appealing enough to catch most kids' interest and keep them engaged in writing, and the prompts help avoid the dreaded "I'm out of ideas!" stage that often comes at the end of student writing. The shared writing feature allows students to see what others have made of the same prompts and publish their own work, although it's hard to monitor what other people have written on the site. 

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See how teachers are using Elegy for a Dead World