I came up with this game when I was teaching English in China with EF. They had a chapter in one book about deserts, so I thought this would be a fun game to make. I was also heavily influenced by the old Sierra computer game, King’s Quest V. This game came out back in 1990 and the map you’ll use for Desert Escape is a very similar to that game.
How This ESL Game Works
- Map: There is a map included with the game. I’ve got both a .jpeg and a Word document so you can print it out or put it up on the screen. You’ll need this map to see where the students choose to go. The rule of thumb is that if the students go 5 screens, or squares on the map, without finding water, they die. When they find the desert nomad you can give them the map.
- Temple: In this game there is an ancient temple. Students might be able to wander up around the cliffs and find it, but they won’t be able to get in. You see, the temple door is locked and they need to get a key. To do that, they’ll probably have to wander around some more, or find the map. The game will ultimately end inside the temple.
- Bandit Camp: At the far corner of the map is a bandit camp. These bandits have the key to the temple, but the students need to think of a clever and creative way to get it. There are also 5 smaller tents that students can look in to find useful things. You’ll also have a chance to fight some bandits, which you’ll do with dice.
- Oases: There are several squares on the map marked as Oasis. These will allow the students to get a drink and continue on. When they reach one of these they start walking fresh, meaning you start over at zero squares moved.
- Aliens: When I made this game originally I had aliens in it. It was part of the book I was using and it’s a big part of the story. I’ve taken most of the stuff out, but you have to realize there are some aliens looking to get in that temple. They’re walking around the desert, so when you and the students get bored, go to the aliens screen. Here you can fight, which is pretty much just rolling dice. My students always liked it and I know yours will too.
- Map: You’ll need to print out a few copies of the map. I’d make this on heavier construction paper or card stock if you’ve got it. When I printed them like that I crumpled the maps up in my hands so that they look used. If you have a map that is all wrinkled and torn it really makes it look authentic and your students will get a kick out of it when you finally pass it out to them. Make a few copies for however many groups you’ll have.
Extra Materials Included
- Audio: This game has some audio files, which you’ll see when you go to those slides. I’ve never embedded the audio, which means if you want to listen to it within the game you’ll need to delete the current audio file icon, got to insert and click on movies and sound. Then insert a new audio file. You’ll be able to search and find the file. When a message box comes up, type in ‘play on click.’ After that you’ll have to redo the custom animations so those audio icons show up last. It’s a pain, so you might just want to minimize the game and play from the folder.
- Dialogues: Also included are the actual transcripts of the dialogues. If you don’t want to fiddle around with the audio files you can simply print out these character dialogues and read them at the appropriate time. It’ll be easier for many teachers and you can change them around a bit. One note, Khan is the name of the alien’s leader, or was when I first made this game. You can change it if you want.
- Teacher Notes: There’s a detailed set of teacher notes that I wrote up for this game when I was doing workshops and telling other teachers about it. I’ll include those as well, and they’ll really get into the details on which slides take you where, how to find the nomad, and what happens when the kids die. It will answer most questions and should help a lot.
Well, I hope you like Desert Escape. My students really loved it when I broke it out and many other teachers gave it a try. It’s a huge game so it’ll take you 45 to 60 minutes. You might even want to break it up over 2 classes. Let me know if you like it and if there’s anyway to make it better.
If you want to get even more time out of deserts, check out this FREE Deserts of the World ESL PowerPoint.