How I Use It
I began usage as a whole class experience (6th grade) by putting the game up on the smartboard/projector and asking one student to be the astronaut. The game controls and design are very simple for students to figure out, and they enjoyed the process of self-discovery. As our astronaut entered a portal and chose a writing adventure, the rest of the class (5 in total) helped to craft the story as we came to each prompt. They loved the atmosphere of the game and were excited to see what came next. After we completed one story as a group, then read the story, I allowed each student to begin their own Elegy story on their laptops. The students were quick to begin, and I used the program in class for three full period for individual creative writing. At the end of the lesson period, the students read their stories to the group. I repeated this process with several groups. The students now have the program on their laptops, and some continue to write in their free time because they enjoy the experience so much. I can see assigning a required story in the future for homework, or use the tool when a student has completed classwork and wants to engage in another activity.
* It should be noted that one problem I ran into was that purchase of the program runs through a service called Steam, which is an online gaming site for independent games. Sadly, our school's firewalls prevented Steam from running on school computers, so we could not use it in that fashion. I contacted the company who produces Elegy and they offered the program to us free from the Steam program. This enabled me to load the game onto individual laptops based on the number of licenses we purchased. That worked very well, but it did require time to purchase license and load onto each computer.
My overall take, is that Elegy for a Dead World is a fun, engaging way to inspire creative writing in students.
Pros- The game has a great atmosphere through its visuals and sound, and game play is easy, so there is very little explanation to get students started. The story prompts are interesting, and several of my students were thrilled to use it as an outlet for creative writing. Many of the prompts are a fill-in-the-blanks format, much like Mad Libs (thought with sentences not just words) while others are free-form.
Cons- As the name implies, the game is about dead worlds, and while the concept is interesting, it is also narrow. The story prompts tend to lead the students to write about death and destruction, and most of the stories come out sounding similar. I hope that since this is a new company, as they develop, they can introduce worlds with various tones that would allow for a a broader range of thinking. Additionally, it would be great to see more to interact with within the worlds. The experience is fairly linear and there are little opportunities to interact with other characters or elements. This could provide a richer experience.
That said, I would recommend the software as it's engaging and serves to help students formulate ideas for writing. It also helps reluctant writers who need idea generation, but it is also great for those students who can generate their own creative thoughts based on a prompt.