The Legend of the Lost Emerald: Designing a narrative for increased engagement within a historical practices video game

Sarah Gagnon and David Gagnon


In this paper, we explore the design process and inspriation of the narrative aspects of The Legend of the Lost Emerald, a grade 4-6 historical practices learning game. Our purpose was to use a strong narrative design to engage the players beyond a cartoonish perception that shipwrecks are "cool" to deeper history meaning-making. This team used an iterative diagetic approach to applying narrative to the game that we will outline in this paper. The discussion in this paper will also explore the key philsoophical inspiration: Lacan's notion of objet a. While the creative team is familiar with and relies on traditional narrative structures, we will show how we worked to create a unique narrative in this video game that acknowledges the psychology of our players in terms of their interest and their ability to make meaning about a traumatic topic: the many lives that have been lost at sea.