A Tutorial for Teachers
Welcome to chooseyourstory.com, an ancient and magical haven for creative writing. Like all ancient and magical places, you may find treasure, or you might get eviscerated by traps and monsters like- This analogy has gone far enough. I'd like to get to the point!
Storygames are fun to write, and sometimes, with the right amount of skill and experience behind them, they're also fun to read. The only problem we've had is that time and time again, young writers who haven't found the place on their own have demonstrated themselves to be pretty incapable of writing above our minimum standards. This is not an insult, nor is it a challenge. It's a warning, for your sake and the sake of your students. The fact of the matter is that the odds are stacked against the kids for more than a few reasons.
1. Not everyone wants to do it. Yes, it may seem unthinkable to someone who teaches or enjoys English/Creative Writing/Whathaveyou, it baffles me every time I remember those people exist as well, but not everyone capable of getting a passing grade came because they want to be there. There are a shocking amount of students, even in elective courses like creative writing, that came just because they want to play the game for the credit and would rather not take Geometry II. Which is fine as long as they're actually putting forth the effort for the grade, but I'm sure you and I both know that being passable as a school assignment doesn't automatically mean it's going to be a good read.
2. Not everyone knows HOW. It's true, there are plenty of resources on this site to teach people, and plenty of writers are willing to help when asked... However, as this isn't exactly as popular or intuitive a medium as regular stories, and a good writer may not necessarily make a good game designer once they allow their stories to be malleable and take different paths. It's very easy for younger writers to get overwhelmed
3. The hobby usually takes a lot more time than is usually given for a school assignment, (Nobody who writes less than 500,000 words a day could write/script something as expansive as Eternal or Dungeon Stompage in a week) to say nothing of the planning and structure involved. Plenty of short and sweet games do exist, and plenty of writers write passable games in a number of hours. But, when prompted off the cuff to create something in a week, especially when the concept of the Storygame is new to them, obviously not everything's gonna be a winner. A few writers here routinely unpublish their works to truly finish them even after being given a month's time in contests.
For these reasons among others, we highly suggest that you do not tell your class to publish their stories to the public, and avoid the forums. If you would like to write storygames as a class assignment, tell your students to only write with sneak peek enabled, and send you the link. That way you can all write these games however you'd like, without compromising the games' quality.
Now, you may be asking, "Why? What is this about minimum standards? Why does a hobby site have minimum standards? Isn't this a site for writers? Isn't quality purely subjective?"
Well, the fact of the matter is that Chooseyourstory.com isn't just about the writers. It's also for people who like reading storygames, so rather than fall into the traps of writer-centric websites like Wattpad or Fanfiction.net where authors are free to fill the site with crap with little to no quality control or regard for people looking to read interesting things, we have a set of very simple rules that determine whether we let a work stay.
These handy rules are available for your consumption right here:
Time and time again, we have been approached by classes for school projects, who haven't done their research on the site, and time and time again, we receive about one story that meets these standards out of the dozens or so that warrant deletion. Well, that should be simple enough, right? If you add these basic requirements to the requirements of the assignment, everything should be fine, right?
The writers and readers of this site take their interests very seriously, and as this is not specifically a site for children and speech is more or less unrestricted, a story that isn't very good is going to recieve comments that will make this point in no uncertain terms, and rather school-unfriendly terms at that. Of course trial by fire can be healthy for a kid trying their hand at publishing their words, but perhaps that's something they best find out on their own, rather than on your watch. Many sites such as Youtube, Vimeo, etc. have a private or educational mode to keep students from finding or being exposed to inappropriate content or users. Consider Sneak Peek to be that mode for optimum safety.
-Please, thank you, and happy writing, The CYS Userbase.