Monthly Archives: May 2010

Guest Post #1 : Video Games and Wikis

It is my great pleasure to introduce our first special guest on Digital Play – Shelly Terrell is an English teacher, educator, blogger and all-round inspiration when it comes to educational technology.  In this post, she puts the case for using a wiki to support digital play with learners.

Read the rest of this entry

Scooby Doo and the Temple of Lost Souls

Play the game

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An engaging game with English audio introduction, middle section and ending. The game is challenging enough for the students to want help (in English) to finish it, therefore lending itself to be used as a listening activity during gameplay.

Alternatively, you could do something with the walkthrough to turn it into a reading. How would this work? Give the walkthrough to the students, and if they get stuck, then they can read the walkthrough to find out how to proceed in the game. The best way to do this is to have the different sections on slips of paper or cards and to give them out as requested.

Audio introduction:

“Wow! I can’t believe you and I travelled all the way to Guatemala to find the hottest hot pepper in the world just so we could make some really great chile. You’re right – I can believe it.

The old harbinger mucho gusto is supposed to grow in a secret chamber somewhere in the middle of the temple.

But we’d better be careful – Harlows the tour guide said this place was filled with booby traps.


1. When Shaggy and Scooby first enter the temple, they find themselves in a doorway, looking at a rolled up whip and a dead explorer.
There is a vine on the left going down to the next level.
Stand next to the whip and press space to pick it up.
Walk to the vine, press space. The characters shoot down the vine.

2. Walk to the bedroll and pick that up.
Walk as far forward as you can without walking onto the broken cracked floor.
Go to the pole stuck in the wall. Select the whip in the inventory by pressing ‘I’ and using the left and right keys to select the whip.
Exit inventory and press space. The characters should go into auto and use the whip as a swing to get across.

3. Get the metal pole.
Select the metal pole, and press space when you are near the door.
The Characters should use it to poke the button on the other wall.
Careful to not step on the cracked floor, try to get to the bottom of the set of stairs. Be quick, or the stairs will disapear.
Press space when at the bottom of the stairs.
Characters in auto, go up stairs.

4. Take the disc type thing on wall (it’s a shield) by pressing space
Go to the loop on the wall. Don’t walk in front of the doors, or a knife will come down and scare ya. Press space when metal pole selected.
Characters will put pole across door.
Walk safely across.

5. Go up to, not on, scorpions.
Lay blanket over the top of them
Go to the wall and press the button.
Run to the edge, and spikes should come up.
Lay the shield over the spikes.
Run up stairs, by going to bottom and pressing space.

6. The wall should move towards you.
quickly move to the broken vine thing on the wall.
Look at it, and press space.
Characters should pull it revealing a carpet thing and slide down.
Go through doorway.

7. Shaggy and Scooby find the plastic peppers and need to set a trap.

8. Walk to the wall next to you with the characters and pull the lever.
Walk to stairs on other side of room.
Ignore the rope, you can’t pick it up just yet.
Go up the stairs.

9. Get the shield and the torch.
Hold the shield under the beam of light.
Walk through the door.

10. Pick up the stone circle
use the torch to get under the tiles.

11. walk to the rope under the tiles
press space when the bumped up tile shows you that you are next to rope.
Shaggy should poke his head out.
Press space again to get rope.

12. Walk back to the other room with the decorated tiles.
Stand at the top of the stairs, and press space
If done right, character should throw rope through hoop.
get the stone circle and tie it to the end.

13. go back underneath tiles, and get to just behind the monster.
press space to poke your head out.
Press space again, to burn his bum.
keep doing it until he stands on the trap.

14. Go back to the tiled floor
Kick the stone.
Capture the monster

15. Find the recipe for the chile. Enjoy your meal!

More Scooby Games here:


If you play the game as a listening with students, then give them clues from the walkthrough. Here are some example questions you could ask / clues you could give:

QUESTIONS (to act as clues when students are playing the game)

1. Be careful of the dead explorer. He has a knife!
Can you see anything on the wall to help you get down to the next level?

2. Watch out! The floor is not solid! It’s broken!
How can you get round the corner?
Can you see the pole sticking out from the wall?
Have you got anything to help you swing round the corner?


Global Warming Simulation

Lesser controlled speaking activity.

Level: Advanced

Location: Computer room

Topic: Global Warming

Language Focus: Modals of obligation

Game: Global Warming Interactive

CO2FX is a web based multi-user educational game which explores the relationship of global warming to economic, political and science policy decisions. The game is driven by a systems dynamics model and is presented in a user friendly interface intended for the high school user.”

Screen shot 2010-04-22 at 8.54.33 AM


Download and print off enough copies of the CO2FX Global Warming Simulation role cards and print a copy for each 3 learners in your class and cut each card out.

Pre Play

Screen shot 2010-04-22 at 10.18.33 AM

  1. If you are in a connected classroom its a nice idea to have the game on the board to help you illustrate the situation.  If you don’t, don’t worry.
  2. Explain to your class that Brazil has decided to deal with the global warming issue and brainstorm in open class a few ideas how they might do this.
  3. Divide your class into 3 groups or 3 tables (blue, orange and green) of advisors together (see right).  Give out the science advisor (blue) cards to one table, the Policy advisor (orange) cards to the other and the Economic advisor (green) cards to the last table.  Ask them to read the cards then turn them over and summarize the card to the person next to them.
  4. Now they make notes on what arguements they might use to achieve the challenge they have been set.

Play #1

Screen shot 2010-04-22 at 10.18.48 AM

  1. Ask your learners to stand up and form a group of 3 consisting of one person from each table (see left) and then go to the computer room.
  2. Learners sit in their groups of three at a computer.  Because the game itself is not very intuitive it’s a very good idea to get your learners to read the gameguide. It may be a good idea to explain before hand that because of the serious nature of this game that they may not get a chance to play it until next time.  This time is dedicated to understanding how the game works.
  3. Learners take notes from the game guide on parts of the game that are relevant to their role.

Play #2

  1. Learners sit in the groups they were in when they read the game guide in the computer room (see advisors gaming diagram above) and compare their ideas on how the game is played.  They may use any notes they took from last class.
  2. In their groups you return to the computer room and play the game.

Post Play

  1. The advisors all sit together on three separate tables (see Advisors Together diagram above).
  2. They compare their success at the game and try and establish the best way to play the game.  This will involve feedback on not only their role in the game but those of the other advisors.
  3. Each table makes a ‘strategy guide’ consisting of a list of tips on how best to play the game.
  4. Learners return to their computer game teams (see advisors gaming diagram above) and compare their ‘strategy guides’.
  5. In open class decide on the best tips and write them on the board and learners copy it down. (You could do this as a relay dictation).

Extra Activity

Return to the classroom and play the game using the ‘strategy guide’ from step 5 in Post Play.


Learners use the ‘strategy guide’ from step 5 in Post Play to play the game at home.  They could then report to the class and find out who did the best.  That person then tells the class what it was that they that made them do so well.

Useful Language

We should . . .

It has to be . . .             lowered                    raised                      kept the same

We must . . .

State of Debate

Level: Upper Intermediate

Skills focus: Listening & Reading

Location: Connected classroom/ computer room

Language Focus: Modals of Obligation

Game: State of Debate

“It’s the year 2020 and Just-Co have banned hoodies, and you’ve just been spotted wearing one. Can you talk your way out of trouble using your English Language skills?”

Screen shot 2010-05-18 at 10.08.29 AMIn this game you are spotted by a regulator (police) who approaches you and tells you about your crime in a video sequence.  You then have to read and choose from three options (written text) on how you deal with the situation and see how they react.  Other situations appear in the game like giving advice to a friend and trying to get into a disco past a bouncer.


  • If you are doing this in the computer room treat it as an autonomous listening & reading activity.  As you monitor help learners understand the game’s language content.  The colleague who showed me this game had his learners play the game as a reader/ listener.
  • Presentation on modal verbs of permission and obligation if you are doing this in a connected classroom as an open class activity.


NOTE There is a button on the bottom left hand side that provides you with subtitles for the video sequences in the game.

  1. Play the video intro and ask a few concept questions such as “When is it set?”, “What crimes are there?”, “What sort of government is it?”
  2. Divide the class into pairs.  They watch the video sequence and should ask their partner 3 wh- questions.
  3. They then read and discuss what option they should choose before taking a class vote.
  4. They watch the video sequence that shows a reaction to their choice and learners repeat from step 2.
  5. Play the game for as long as you think is necessary.

Post activity

  • Discuss in class which were the best ways to deal with each situation.
  • The situations in the game may be extreme but what are the unwritten rules and regulations affecting young people today.  Discuss.
  • Write their own rules and regulations for adults.
  • Write a role play between a ‘regulator’ and an adult breaking the law.

Homework activity

  • Learners write a composition about advice they give to friends, dress codes or laws and regulations that effect them as young people but not the adults.
  • If learners didn’t finish the game in class they could continue at home.  You could ask them to take notes using a simple table:

Screen shot 2010-05-18 at 11.03.58 AM

There is also a ‘save’ button which I’ve never used so in theory you could save a game and come back to it in later classes.  Whatever you choose to do I hope you enjoy playing the game.

An Educational Game – Disaster Watch

Level: Intermediate +

Location: Computer room

Topic: Food shortage, flood and earthquake disasters

Language focus: Writing

Game: Disaster watch

An Educational game commissioned by Christian Aid to raise awareness of the threat of Food shortages, flood and earthquakes in a Central American country.

Screen shot 2010-03-22 at 11.13.48 PM


I started this activity in a connected classroom by dictating these four questions:

  1. What’s his name?
  2. Where does he live?
  3. What disasters /do they watch for?
  4. How many disaster clues /do you have to /watch for?

Then I played the video intro to the game until learners had all the answers to the questions.  In feedback I elicited the three disasters (earthquake, flood and food shortages) on to the board and put learners into groups and gave them the task of predicting what possible ‘warning signs’ there might be before each disaster. Learners brainstorm them into three categories which they draw in their note books.


Learners take their notebooks to the computer room.  Sit learners in pairs at a computer.  Direct them to the game and let them play the game Disaster watch.  Stress that they have to complete their tables in their notebooks.  There is enough text in the game for learners to get some good reading practice.  As an alternative/ extra activity you may like to get them to record any difficult language items.

Post Play

Back in the classroom feedback on the answers.  Ask learners if there were any warning signs that they predicted at the beginning that i) appeared in the game ii) didn’t appear in the game.

Extra Activity

Learners write a short composition entitled “The warning signs for __________” and write about one of the three disasters.  They can structure their composition in 4 parts:

1 About the Country – Learners write a little background information about the country.  They can use information from, the intro, research, what they know.

2 A disaster – a little bit about the disaster they have chosen to write about (what it is, what it does, who it effects etc).

3 The Warning signs – Use their notes from the game to complete this paragraph.

4 What can be done – What possible solutions there are and how best to combat the disaster (later parts of the game will give learners some ideas).

Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?

This is just a quick one – good for a filler or for telling students to do on their own at home.

It’s an entertaining version of the popular TV show – the questions are, on the whole, relevant to English teaching, although some are US-culture specific

Play Win A Million at Online Games HQ

Or download a powerpoint template of the game from here ‘Who wants to be a millionaire’ download

Room Fake

Room Fake is another ‘Escape from the Room’ puzzle game that is almost impossible to do without the walkthrough, which I have added below.

This works well as a live listening activity, but I recommend playing it first as a race to see who finishes first in the computer room. With the students in pairs, give out the walkthrough (unnumbered) and ask them to order it as they play. To make it harder, remove some of the information (such as the codes in number 16) or (even more devious) change some of the clues so they give wrong information and then later in the classroom, ask the students to rewrite the errors and deal with all vocabulary questions.


  1. Click on the dresser, click underneath it, and get the battery.
  2. Back out, turn right, get the number 4 tile and the wadded paper out of the garbage can.
  3. Examine and uncrumple the wad of paper.
  4. Back up so you’re looking AT the can, click on it to lift it, and click it again near the base to find the color for the letter O.
  5. On the desk, near the left side of the plant, will be a green 3 cylinder. Get that.
  6. Click on the bed, turn back the blanket, and get the number 6 tile from the edge of the blanket. At the bottom of the bed is a red 3 cylinder, get that as well.
  7. Back out, turn right again. Between the bed and the cabinet on the floor is the number 7 tile.
  8. The top drawer of the green cabinet has a clue but nothing to get. The middle drawer has a safe that we don’t have the combination for yet. The bottom is locked. Open the cabinet at the top and get the battery from the right side of the second shelf, and the scrap of paper from the top shelf. That should tell you the color of the letter C.
  9. Turn right again, open the curtains. On the curtain rod will be a blue 3 cylinder.
  10. Next to the curtains is a diagram for the magic sqare. Click the bottom corner: Taped to the back is a scrap of paper that has the safe code (196 – it’s shown upside down).
  11. Go back to the green cabinet – put the combination in the safe, and get the number 7 tile and the screwdriver. Examine the screwdriver and pull the cord to extend the bit.
  12. Turn right, click the wall plate, and use the screwdriver to remove the cover. Take the screws.
  13. Turn right again, and look at the SIDE of the small wooden dresser. Unscrew the screws (and take them!), return to the front, and open the stuck bottom drawer. Take the battery charger and the red 3 cylinder.
  14. Examine the battery charger and put the batteries in it, then go back to the left to the outlet. Plug the charger in, click away, click back, and take the charger and charged batteries. (That was fast!)
  15. Turn right again, click on the little dog statue, and put the batteries in the holders. Press the button on the front to turn its head and get the number 9 tile.
  16. On the desk is a magic square puzzle – put the tiles in so the grid becomes:
    8 3 4
    1 5 9
    6 7 2
    and press the button. This will give you the color of the K.
  17. When you back up, the picture will have fallen. If you turn left, two circles of light on the side of the dresser will give you a time, and the controls behind the painting are to set the clock. Set the short hand to 5 and the long hand to 6 (30 minutes).
  18. When you turn left again, there is a small box extended under the clock. Click it and get the silver key and the blue 2 cylinder.
  19. The silver key opens the bottom drawer of the green dresser. Open it and get the pink tissue and the small red sword.
  20. On top of the small wooden dresser is a vase – knock it over and use the pink tissue to absorb it. Turn left, open the curtains, and clean the window off with the tissue. This will show you the color of the L (on the right), and a secret about the door (on the left).
  21. Return to the dog statue, put the red sword in its neck slot (as marked) to get a red 1 cylinder. Pull the string left over to get the gold key.
  22. Turn to the door, click on the bottom left corner to zoom in, and again to take off the panel. Plug the door into the wall outlet. Get the blue 3 cylinder.
  23. The gold key opens the safe behind the paper to the right of the window. Open it, and get the doorknob, and the green 2 cylinder.
  24. Click the door, use the doorknob on it, and the screws to secure it. Pressing it will open a panel with the word “LOCK” above it.
  25. THE COLORS CHANGE, but the puzzle works like this: Any two colored cylinders of the same value will blend (blue and red become purple, red and green become yellow, blue and green become teal). If you kept note of the colors each letter should be there will only be one combination of the cylinders that will fit and make the right colors for each letter. Place the cylinders so the colors are right, and OPEN SESAME!
    Now you can exit through the cabinet, OR, find the REAL exit…
  26. Clicking the bottom right of the green cabinet should show you the side – get the hammer out from behind the drawer.
  27. Turn around, break open the vase to reveal the color of the letter A.
  28. To your right, the magic square on the desk can be clicked and turned over – that reveals the color of the backwards K.
  29. The back of the cover from the electrical panel will give you the color of the letter E.
  30. Believe it or not, with this, you have enough information to re-solve the puzzle for “FAKE”. Go back to the door, and solve the puzzle again. FAKE will turn to TRUE, and there will be one gold cylinder now – a token with a dog on it. Take that.
  31. Return to the dog statue, detach the head, put the dog token in the neck slot, and reattach the head. He will open the TRUE exit for you.

The end!

Mystery Of Time And Place (MOTAS)

Level: Intermediate+

Location: Computer room

Skills Focus: Live listening

Language Focus: It’s something you use to + verb / for + gerund

Game: Mystery of Time and Space (MOTAS)

Screen shot 2010-04-20 at 9.54.54 PM

This game was probably one of the first point-and-click games I used with a class and many consider it a classic ‘escape the room game’.  It has got over a hundred rooms in which you have to find objects, work out puzzles and escape from the room.  What’s nice about this game is that if you hover your mouse over the objects in a room it is annotated (see below).  This is worth pointing out to your learners at a very early stage.

Screen shot 2010-04-20 at 10.10.36 PM

The pre-gaming activity below orientates learners to the annotation function within MOTAS.   You need to do this in a connected classroom before moving to a computer room.


Print off a copy of the MOTAS walkthrough (rooms 1-8) or use an electronic copy of the MOTAS walkthrough (rooms 1-21) or the MOTAS video walkthrough (rooms 1- 5) to ‘dictate’ the game play to your learners.


  1. Present the game to the class and show them the first room.
  2. Tell them they have 2 minutes to write down the name of as many objects as possible that they can see on the screen (whether they may use dictionaries is up to you).
  3. When they have finished ask them to swap lists with another group.
  4. Tell them that they get 2 points if the name of the object appears on the screen and 1 point if you accept it.
  5. Move your cursor over each object on the screen.  Learners give 2 points if the object name appears.
  6. Add up the marks and hand the list back to the original group.
  7. Groups can now argue over the 1 point score words on their list e.g. ‘Locker’ is annotated but you can give 1 point if they say ‘cupboard’


  1. In a computer room tell learners they have to listen to you tell them how to escape.  The first one out the room and says stop gets 1 point.
  2. They have to either find the annotation to find an object or ask you to describe the object to them e.g. Learner: “What’s a pillow?” Teacher: “You use it to put your head on when you go to sleep.”
  3. Use a copy of the walkthrough or the video walkthrough to dictate to your learners how they should complete the game.

Post Play

As learners to write down some of the objects they remember from the game and to write a definition for the objects using the grammar:

It’s an object you use to + bare infinitive

It’s an object you use for + gerund

Alternative activity

Instead of doing a live listening activity or gaming dictation you could give learners a reading in which they have to sequence jumbled walkthrough sentences by playing the game in the computer room.

Screen shot 2010-04-20 at 10.40.15 PM

If you would like to try this why not download a copy of the MOTAS Sequencing Activity and make enough copies for each group in your computer room.

Alan Wake – A Video worksheet

At the beginning of this review there is a warning about the video having a violence content so it is recommended you watch to assess whether this activity is appropriate for your learners.  There is a lot of shooting, scary voices and a dark foreboding atmosphere throughout.

Level: Upper intermediate /advanced

Location: Connected classroom

Skills Work: Listening

Video:  Alan Wake Video Review

Screen shot 2010-05-10 at 3.05.21 PM


Download the Alan Wake Worksheet and make sure the video plays in your classroom.


Your learners look at the worksheet and discuss the ‘Before you watch’ video.

  • an alternative/ extra activity is to get them to predict ten words that they think will be mentioned in the video.

Learners then work their way through the ‘Can you predict . . ‘ questions writing notes on what they think the answers might be’

Watch activity

Tell your learners that as they watch they should correct their answers and make notes.

Post watch activity

Learners compare their answers and expand on their notes where possible before feedback in open class.

Extra Activity

  • Learners find a trailer to a video game and write their own review using their notes to help them.
  • Discuss with learners what makes a game too violent or have a game rating.

QR Code Gaming

QR Code - Digital Play

QR Code - Digital Play

Can you read the  square barcode above? Chances are you can if you have a phone with a camera and a barcode reader. If not, then it’s unlikely unless you take your laptop or a hard copy down to the local supermarket and persuade the person sitting at the checkout to scan it for you. These things are appearing all over though, and it’s likely that we’ll be seeing more of them too. They are called QR codes and you can find out more about them at Wikipedia.

The Q. R stands for ‘quick response‘ and they are designed to allow their content to be decoded at high speed. They also hold more content than a normal barcode. Very popular in Japan, the system has quickly moved from their initial use in vehicle manufacturing to  being used for all sorts  of mobile tagging and can contain a maximum of 7,089 characters of information. They have also just started being used in games, which is why Digital Play has become interested in them

QR games

  • In November 2009, Kidrobot, a designer toy store in the US organised a scavenger hunt game based on QR codes n
  • In December 2009, the marketing software company Interlink One held the first QR code game for its employees at the Christmas party. The employees, as described on the QReate & Track blog were given a sheet of QR codes and another sheet of questions (try the game out for yourself if you have a phone with a barcode scanner) .
  • Google took the idea of a QR game one step further at its Developer Day in 2009, with 100 people running around hunting for QR codes that were stuck to tables and chairs, walls and boxes, etc. Each player earned points by scanning the QR codes and could check their score and the scores of other players directly on their phones.
  • Perhaps the oddest example is the QR Kill game played in Barcelona. Each player has a large QR code attached to their back and communicates with their team members using their mobile phone, which is also used to scan / kill their opponent – sounds a bit like a less messy geek hi-tech version of paintball –  bizarre!

Language Quest

So what has this got to do with language learning? Out of curiosity, this week I  gave some of my own pre-intermediate students a challenge and simply handed them a QR code at the end of the class, saying this was their homework and that it was a puzzle, without giving away any other clues. The code contained a series of instructions for them to follow that would lead them to an account on Facebook that they had to friend (all of these students use Facebook) and then they could claim a prize. It was an experiment, aimed at satisfying my curiosity more than anything. Most of the students left the class muttering that I was mad, but that evening, one of the students friended the Facebook account and claimed his prize!

So, what does it ll mean? I’m not sure yet, but it’s bound to create some interesting conversation next class and I’m planning on taking in some more QR codes that we can decode as well as an article about using them for all sorts of uses.

I would love to organise a running dictation / treasure hunt using the QR codes but I’m not sure whether there’s much mileage in this idea unless all students had access to barcode scanner software in their mobiles .  Who knows, maybe some time in the near future…

Find Out More about QR codes: