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Designing and Creating an Instructional Game


One of the major assignments for this class is the design and partial creation of an instructional game. The finished example below is based on Edgar Lee Masters’ work Spoon River Anthology . As part of this process students become mini-subject matter experts, study alignment theory, and learn new skills (programming, in the case of this project). Students work in small groups of 3 or 4 through design and development iterations of modules. The result is separate games of similar basis (one from each group). Each group also produces a design brief to document the development process ( see below ). The final step is the integration of the various projects into a single, larger game.


Voices of Spoon River (VOSR) Game


This interactive fiction game is based on Edgar Lee Master’s collection of poems, The Spoon River Anthology. Each poem is an epitaph of someone from the fictional town of Spoon River. There are many connections and stories that can be discovered from a careful reading of the individual poems. This is a game about resolving conflicts and uncovering mysteries relating to these epitaphs. Solving these conflicts requires good reading and problem solving skills.


Game Introduction


It has been years since anyone walked the down its dusty Main Street. Only the sound of the wind and the timeless trickle of the fountain in the cemetery make any noise at all. The town of Spoon River sleeps. But not all are at peace. Some say the town slowly faded away as the old people died and the young ones moved away. Others say it happened suddenly when the wells dried up. Somehow, Spoon River became a ghost town. And all the secrets would have faded, too, if it wasn’t for the epitaphs. You must examine the past and collect clues that will help you find and resolve the issues of those who still cannot rest.


Download the Voices of Spoon River Game


Download the .zip package containing the Voices of Spoon River game here . This contains all the necessary files to run the game on either PC or Mac. Those new to interactive fiction games should begin by reading the included readme file.


Design Documents for Voices of Spoon River Game


Group A Design Document (Word format)


Group B Design Document (Word format)


Group A Design Document (RTF)


Group B Design Document (RTF)



To download free word processing software capable of viewing these files, please visit



Teaching/Research Materials


Suggestions for Voices of Spoon River Lesson Plan (HTML)


Suggestions for Voices of Spoon River Lesson Plan (RTF)


Voices of Spoon River Handout (RTF)


Voices of Spoon River Assessment (RTF)



More Information


For more information about this project, please visit the Voices of Spoon River Web page


You may also contact Brett Shelton, Ph.D., Instructional Technology Professor at Utah State University.
(435) 797-2393



Design and Development Team:

  • Brett Shelton (faculty advisor)
  • Jared Bernotski
  • Tom Caswell
  • Marie Duncan
  • Marion Jensen
  • Jennifer Jorgensen
  • Jon Scoresby
  • Tim Stowell
Copyright 2008, by the Contributing Authors. Cite/attribute Resource . admin. (2008, May 20). Game Design Project. Retrieved January 07, 2011, from Free Online Course Materials — USU OpenCourseWare Web site: This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License Creative Commons License
Online Degree Program
Utah State University offers an online masters degree program (MS & MEd) in Instructional Technology and Learning Sciences. Click below to find out more.