Girls Write Now: Gaming dorkShop

The GWN Narrative Gaming dorkShop was a hybrid game design and writing workshop for high school girls. This project was a collaboration between Parsons designers/technologists and Girls Write Now to introduce young writers to how they could turn their work into digital stories and games.



In a city where 40% of high school students fail to graduate on time, only 31% are shown to have proficient writing skills. Girls aren't heard and typically receive less attention than boys do in school. Women’s voices of all ages are sorely underrepresented in the public sphere. Only making up 26% of the computing workforce in 2013, 3% were black women, 5% were Asian women, and 2% were Hispanic women (TechRepublic). 


Client: Girls Write Now (in partnership with Parsons, The New School for Design)

Project Role: Curriculum Design, Game Design, Researcher, Educator

Team Members: Kristen Kersh, Lauren Slowick

Process: Collaborating with designers, professional writers, and educators, we worked to develop an curriculum that introduced game design concepts into storytelling. This involved researching system design and gaming principles, interviewing stakeholders (program participants, professional writers, educators, and GWN administrators), and prototyping storytelling games to determine what was realistically achievable in our timeframe. 

Solution: We developed a three part dorkShop series exploring the intersection between writing, digital media, and games. Using choose their own adventure style fiction/gaming, students worked to create a multilevel game. 

Challenges: It was occasionally difficult to balance the time between the writing and digital portions of the lab time.

Narrative Gaming dorkShop Series

This collaboration consisted of three workshops. We provided insight for interactive storytelling, games, and system design. We facilitated the “translating narrative to digital” portions of the Digital Lab, which included web design, games, and interactive storytelling. Using Wordpress and QR codes to build narrative online games, each student worked to create their own choose-your-own-adventure game that can be played on any mobile device. 

Plot Your Destiny: Students began to write a story that would be transformed into a game during the Digital Lab. They turned their writing exercise into wireframes of the story's plot. 

Major Players: This focused on building their characters through background stories and tense situations. In addition to the plot of the stories, they created choice points for the main character. Each choice point helps to develop the character and leads them down a different path.

Make Your Own Rules: They began creating rules and play testing their games. It was an exciting day because they finally put their QR codes up and began sharing their stories/games. In this session, students learned how to conduct a play test and record feedback for iteration. 

Here are some pictures from our final dorkshop.