Level: Upper intermediate/ Advanced
Topic: Murder Mystery
Language skill: Reading & listening
“This game is set in London’s Covent Gardens in the 1750s, and depicts a time when crime and vice in the city had hit such levels that the local magistrates began to introduce the first instances of physical policing of law and order. BOW STREET RUNNER is designed to be historically accurate, and therefore the game’s content and its settings may not be suitable for younger players.”
This games video scene clips recorded using actors makes this series of interactive murder mystery adventures incredibly engaging, authentic and life like. You actually feel you are seeing what London was like at the time. The sound effects can be a little disturbing but add to the dark and sinister atmosphere of the gaming experience. To pique your interest here’s a little trailer for the game:
While you explore the game looking for clues much in the way you play a standard point and click game there are plenty of opportunities for your learners to get some reading practice in as each clue is annotated with information on how the clue may be relevant to both the case and to how London was in the 1750s. As you journey through the games playscape you come across various characters from the time who each have something to say regarding the case you are following. You choose the direction of your enquiries and hear and read (there are subtitles) what each character has to say. Finally you have to present your evidence to the magistrate by listening to his questions and putting forward the evidence you have built up over the course of your investigation.
How to use it with learners
I think this is very much an autonomous standalone game. Either treat it as a reading activity in the computer room, where learners may use an online dictionary or you the teacher for language support, or seek to expose your learners to more English outside the classroom by suggesting it for homework. If you choose the later then it may be a good idea to introduce them to the game in the computer room. Whichever option you choose you may also like to think about encouraging your learners to make a note of some of the more interesting / useful language that they come across.
Extra game support
There are 5 episodes in total and you may like to have access to the Bow Street Runners walkthrough for use with your learners in contact time or even give your learners the opportunity to have access to it from outside class time.