Teaching with Choice of Robots in a college reading class

Hi folks!

I am a lecturer (read adjunct) at a community college. I’ve long been a fan of using interactive fiction in the classroom–especially for developing readers, since there’s the automatic “chunking” of the text into bite-sized pieces, plus the fun “gamification” aspect. I’m planning on using Choice of Robots with my developmental reading (as in, below “college” level) students to get them interested, engaged, and stretch their minds.

I’d love to hear what you folks think about this project.

  • Will it be fun for the readers?
  • What do you think will be the most popular paths?
  • What big issues do you think we’ll find ourselves discussing?
  • What would you like to talk about in a class like this?

Whaddya think?

  1. It will be fun for the readers
  2. Any path but the military path (even though that one was my favorite)
  3. Morality
  4. Talking about whether robots should be treated like humans or not

I think this will definitely be fun for the avid reader of the class and even introduce reading as another form of entertainment for those not interested. We all want to escape this world from one time to another. Some use video games, books, etc. While there is customization options in some visual games, they are more often very linear, you now have an option of putting yourself in the story. And this is a fanstaic option for that escape.

Can I ask what you teach?

1 Like

Just make sure the class adheres to the appropriate outcomes required by the college, and you should be fine.
Let us know how it goes.

That definitely sounds like fun. I would see Empathy or Grace being the most popular paths, or at least the paths most of your students will get on their first try. I’d be super impressed if any of them unlocked Lunatic or Hero achievement during that.

There’s this part during the Grace ending where the robots decided to ignore minor crimes because they felt it’s not worth the energy to pursue them (It’s been a while, but I think that’s how it goes). Then there’s something in an early chapter where the Creation asked if USA is a good or bad guy. I think these topics will be interesting to talk about.


Well, this does seem like a thread I should weigh in on…

The game’s designed so that the Autonomy and Empathy paths are the most common of the climax chapters, since they don’t require much special to accomplish. It’s also designed so that players fail a lot the first time through and probably get something bittersweet at first for an epilogue. Better endings typically require some effort and replays (I think). I guess that might help you focus discussion on the more common paths.

Something CoR’s great for is discussing the traditional parts of a narrative. The thing it does very differently is having different climax chapters depending on how the player tended to resolve conflicts earlier in the game. So you could talk about what a climax is, how it should be set up based on the rising conflict earlier in the story, and so on. The last chapter is decidedly an epilogue, and you could talk about how stories after the climax are typically just wrapping up loose ends and giving a trajectory for the future after the climax is resolved. People often say Choice of Robots is extremely branchy, but I think it’s largely the different climax chapters that (intentionally) give this impression.

Another topic you could discuss is point-of-view. Even though the player has a lot of decisions to make, there are definitely fixed things about the point-of-view; you’re always a genius robot-maker that has some degree of trouble thinking about topics that aren’t robots. So, for example, the stat changes for robots are called out, but relationship and humanity changes are not. There’s also a possible scene where the main character gets distracted trying to figure out the algorithm that produced the camo patterns on soldiers’ uniforms; that definitely happens in that scene and isn’t tied to stats, but is just part of the POV.

A final topic that might be interesting is how every work of fiction is in a dialogue with fiction that has come before. The four climax chapters are definitely all robot fiction tropes – robot revolution, robot romance, robot conquest, robot utopia – and I think big choice-of games often try to serve up the tropes that fans demand. There also has to be a some conscious acknowledgement that these tropes exist within the world of the game, because anything set in the real world has characters who have also consumed media. You could have a discussion about whether the students like or dislike it when fiction references common tropes; if they claim to all dislike it because they think that’s what they ought to say, find out how many of them like genre fiction of some kind, which almost always invokes some familiar tropes even as it does novel things at the same time. I think serving up something that the reader wants is always a tension between providing something new and providing something comfortably familiar.

I hope you have fun!


Cool idea!

I’ve often thought it would be interesting to teach “6th Grade Detective” to upper-elementary or middle-school kids.

I’m back and teaching this again! This time, it’s to 100-level community college students. I appreciate all the thoughts and input.

Right now, I’m sifting through my additional related reading: education ideas, technology espionage, automation and social change, etc.

Good times. Thanks again, @kgold!