Gamebook Computing

Subjects: English
Key Stages: KS2 KS3

Everyone loves a good story. Great stories will inspire you, keep you hooked and transport you to a different realm. Stories engage young and old alike. We traditionally consider stories the realm of the English department in schools, but did you know that you can teach computing and computational thinking through storytelling?

Interactive fiction, also referred to as gamebooks in fact use quite a bit of computational thinking. These are stories where the reader is able to determine which path their story follows and what the ending is. 5 different people can read the same book yet at the same time read 5 different stories. Logical thinking, algorithmic thinking, abstraction, decomposition and evaluation skills can all be covered through interactive fiction. This activity outlines one way in which these can be effectively used within the classroom.

Inspired by the work of Ian Livingstone who authored the original Fighting Fantasy series, this lesson plan encourages students to examine existing interactive fiction before developing their own. This activity can be delivered equally well by Computing and English teachers, or as part of a larger project involving the art department. Encourage students to write their own story, develop their own ebook and perhaps even publish it online.