At a session on video games at the Online News Association conference last month, the panelists discussed how much text can be included in a game – a topic my students and I have been grappling with in our Remembering 7th Street video game project.

A couple of the speakers on the Using Serious Games to Engage Readers panel cautioned against including long textual entries in games because they tend to turn off game players.

“You can’t provide reams of text, because they won’t read it,” said Duane Dunfield of
Red Hot Learning, a video game company based in Canada that worked with the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communications on a game about political redistricting. The point is particularly important for educational games that need to be informative without being boring.

In the journalism class that’s helping develop the 7th Street video game we had just debated this very topic a few days before – how much written text we should present in the game, especially biographical information when introducing a historical character for the first time.

After I told my students what had been said at the ONA conference, we decided to re-structure how we presented characters in the game and pare back the text used to describe them.

One of the students is writing a note for this blog about our discussion and what we finally decided to do. I’ll post that here soon.