Middle Earth prompted a rethink of the random narrative game dynamic. The best way forward was to
create a larger serialized narrative that could be broken down into chapters. The importance of a strong
narrative thread to carry long (more than an hour) turn cycle games was being demonstrated in classroom
game design at ASB. In The Habbit, we’ve developed a series of six “leveling up” points and wrote a seven
chapter short story told in the fictional land of Harrad. In the story, players must find one of the lost
dwarven rings of power and when they find it, they have an “epic win.” The fate of some of these rings is
not told in any of the canonical work of Tolkein, so fair use was assured.
Maps of Middle Earth indicate Harrad is to the south. A newly imagined map of Harrad in the style of
previous iconic maps was created to allow authorship of place names that harkened to the names of the
intended player/teachers. The fair use challenge led to a more conscious narrative element that would
also act, it is hoped, as another emotional game reward in addition to the leveling up when the
player/teacher gains experience, and the collection of treasure (gold redeemable for things like local
As shared above, the next iteration of The Habbit will begin in the next school year with a few teachers
test-running it. During the development of the game, a handful of beta testers from the middle school
were used to help find bugs and test available PD missions that could be taken. In the next stage of
development, the rollout may be slow at first as teachers get used to the software and as it is refined with
their suggestions to better serve their needs.
As we look to the future, we will need to see how The Habbit is received by both teachers and the
leadership team. It will be a changing environment as we gather more feedback. We hope to make the
game adaptive so that as different areas for growth and learning are identified in our organization we can
use the game to continue to playfully support teachers in targeted areas of professional development.
We may see shifts in things as simple as changes in the story and the types of PD tasks that are available.
It is also our wish to see a utility where we can visually map which teachers are working toward mastery
in specific strategic end results and then develop a way to connect them with teachers who are mastering
other areas of PD. We can then potentially create teams that work together to accomplish even greater
The envisioning and development of this game continues to be an exciting journey. And we look forward
to sharing in the next volume of Future Forwards, the next chapter in this journey.