Statement of Problem
As technology advances, student interests and skills also evolve accordingly. As radio once made way for television, our society is now acclimating to an interactive culture based upon computer technology. With each new technological advance, educators must assess of applications of those advances to maximize opportunities for learning. The challenge for educators in this technological era is to meaningfully incorporate modern visual media into the pursuit of literacy.
English teachers, especially at the secondary level, find that students who are reading below grade level may have difficulty relating to the texts. Teachers have always attempted to address such deficits in student literacy through the construction of a climate in which literature can be more relevant to their students. A traditional approach to strengthening this link between relevance and content is to identify conceptual connections between literature and modern popular culture. There is a growing body of empirical evidence has focused on the use of instructional approaches that aspire to incorporate traditional curriculum and equivalent modern sources, embodying the use of visual media to augment the learning experience.
Importance of the Study
Video games are a visual media designed to tell a story while advancing a player through scripted, content-based episodes. As the popularity of a particular game increases, the corporations that own the rights to that brand expand their market into other forms of media, which may include movies, collectible figurines, and books. In these franchised enterprises, the plot of a specific game may be related without player-controlled elements, or the plot can be augmented through a specific character’s progress through the story line.
One example of a specific character progressing through a visual media story line is embodied in the Warcraft series, produced by Blizzard Entertainment. In one particular installment, a player follows the progress of Prince Arthas Menethil, as he travels through his country in an attempt to save his people from a mysterious plague. He fails in his mission but, nonetheless, vows to identify the engineers of the plague and punish the perpetrators for their transgressions. The Prince ultimately crosses the boundary from hero to anti-hero. He concludes his transformationas he becomes the main antagonist in a subsequent game in the series. It is significant that this character’s development parallels a traditional literary pattern that originated in Ancient Greek literature.
The intense involvement of high school students in visual media enterprises would seem to indicate that the inclusion of such activities in instructional strategies might be beneficial to student learning. As secondary English teachers address declining reading performance and decreased student interest, the present study will address the following research question, “Can the incorporation of modern, computer-based visual media be a productive instructional strategy in addressing the improvement of literacy skills in high school English classrooms?
Definition of Terms
During the process of the current research study, the following functional definitions will be utilized:
♦Avatar: The physical representation of a player within a video game.The term Avatar is, sometimes, interchangeable with the term, Player Character (PC).
♦ Visual Media: A subsection of mass media with a visual component.
♦ Gameplay: The mechanics of a video game. Often, the term refers to how a player performs in-game actions, especially pertainingto the genre.
♦ Role Playing Game (RPG): In this genre, the player takes on the role of a specific character or group of characters and follows the plotline with character-specific gameplay elements.
♦ Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game(MMORPG): Any Role Playing Game that has an online component.
♦ Non-Player Character (NPC): This term applies to any character the player may encounter in a game that they cannot directly control.
♦ Lore:In many games, there is a background story or history leading to the events of the game. This background, while not necessarily essential to the gameplay, helps the player understand the plot and characters.
♦ Storyline: The overall plot of a game through which the player navigates.