Using Telltale's The Walking Dead to Teach High School Ethics

Zombies have crawled, lumbered, and shuffled their way into every facet of pop culture... and now they've made their way into high school.

(Please note that the video posted above is Norwegian but you can turn on Closed Captions and select your preferred language.)

Once upon a time, gaming on the school computers meant the secret Doom install that the teachers kinda-but-not-really knew about. Later it was Mavis Beacon, various Tycoon games, and other miscellaneous software that taught you how to count but that you never really found fun. (Just the latter, the Tycoon games were the bomb.)

Fast forward more than ten years and video games have gained an even bigger foothold in the education system. Elementary schoolchildren use Minecraft to learn about the building blocks of their own creativity, and now Telltale Games's rockstar video game release of The Walking Dead has invaded the classroom of Nordahl Grieg High School in Norway to teach ethics to high schoolers.

Telltale's The Walking Dead series has been praised time and again for its ability to place characters in difficult situations where tough ethical decisions have to be made - and made fast

The implementation makes sense. Telltale's The Walking Dead series has been praised time and again for its ability to place characters in difficult situations where tough ethical decisions have to be made - and made fast. This visceral, time-constrained gameplay with real emotional impact might be the key to delivering to jaded high school kids what round-robin discussions and textbook scenarios on paper could not.  

After all, while the slow, lumbering invasion of zombie culture has long since begun to wear on popular culture, anything that doesn't smack of Shakespeare, standard classical Americana literature, and Bill Nye rarely manage to breach the classroom. To see The Walking Dead make it so far (and so soon after release!), is an impressive feat indeed.

Plus, as the folks over at The Walking Dead say, what’s a better way to make learning fun than using video games and zombies!?

There is no hint yet of any similar program making its way back to North American school systems, but we can only hope that with some success, the migration might still happen someday.

Published Jan. 18th 2014
View Comments
  • Federico Senence
    Featured Contributor
    I'm going to age myself - but once upon a time, gaming on a school PC meant finishing typing tutor so you could play Oregon Trail! That being said, The Walking Dead game is actually a really good tool for ethics. Smart move by the class on a way to get a point/lesson across while letting the students learn by having fun. Kudos.
  • Stephanie Tang
    Featured Columnist
    Hahaha, my experiences with Oregon Trail were with the Deluxe version. Played that at home, my school was not cool enough to have it on its computers. I loved it.

    And I agree. It doesn't teach in the usual ways, that is which route is the most moral, but it gives some insight into how people think and what kind of consequences you might have to face.

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