GIPI · Grupo Imágenes Palabras e Ideas

Video games and narrative thinking: meeting Lara Croft


We consider video games, elements within children’s daily lives, to be an excellent ally for them to learn strategies to adapt to their reality. Thus, in this research we played with ‘Tomb Raider: Chronicles’ with primary education students. Together with their teachers and the researchers, they worked on the issue of “non-violence” by building the script for a theatre play and creating a web page where they could share their reflections.


Our goal was to analyze the role of video games as tools that eased the process of building narratives and allowed us to work on values through the development of a critical thinking process by the participants.


Project Development

This study was conducted in an elementary and primary education public school in Alcalá de Henares during the 2002/2003 school year. Its main characters were 27 students aged between 7 and 8 and their teacher.

For this, we organized a workshop within school hours where we intended to connect two different worlds that are related between them: the real world, made up of the different settings in which children interact (neighbourhood, family, school and classroom) and an imaginary world created in the classroom and whose main character is the video game.

The workshop was divided in three main sections, which revolved around the video game, theatre and webpage.

The video game was introduced during the first sessions. We inquired about the children’s preferences to end up playing with the one that came out as their favourite, ‘Tomb Raider’. Subsequently, they re-built what we had lived in it though the creation of texts, thus working on narrative construction.

Following this, and by combining the experiences in the game with their own imagination, participants prepared a theatre script. Once created, children represented their story by means of their body language. From there, they discussed the issue of the violence present on the video game.

Finally, researchers took control of the class to focus on the design of a web page that, although not published in the end, forced participants to reflect upon what they had done throughout the sessions, based on group dialogue. 


Building narratives

The video game plays an important role in the development of narrative thinking. Boys and girls managed to not only write their own stories from their interaction with the video game, but also to go further, by re-building the narratives lived by the heroine, with whom they identified, through the representation of stories they made up.

Thinking critically

The video game proved to be an excellent tool from which to evoke in class reflection processes that enabled the teacher to introduce an education in values. In this way, the approach to the non-violence issue became more attractive, helping children to start acquiring strategies, from a critical perspective, to become active participants in their community.

We learn by playing with others

When working with video games in the classroom, the different goals pursued by children and adults (whether teachers or researchers) becomes evident. We think it is important for the teacher to steer those activities derived from the video game so that students, since they are not passive spectators, may become aware of what they are learning while interacting with the events taking place on the screen.



Research project ‘La presencia de la tecnología en la vida infantil: nuevas alfabetizaciones’ (The presence of technology in children’s life: new literacies”) financed by the Ministry of Science and Technology. Aids to R+D projects, National Program for the Promotion of Knowledge. Duration: 01/01/2002 – 31/12/2005.

Also participating

Students and teachers in year 3 of Primary Education in the Elementary and Primary Education School ‘Henares’ in Alcalá de Henares.

Project website

Related publications

  • Martínez Borda, R. (2006) El papel de los videojuegos en el desarrollo del pensamiento narrativo: una experiencia extraescolar. Doctoral thesis.
  • Lacasa, P.; Méndez, L.; Martínez, R. (2008). Aprender a contar historias y a reflexionar con videojuegos comerciales. In Gross, B. ‘Videojuegos y Aprendizaje’. Barcelona: Grao.
  • Lacasa, P., Méndez, L., & Martinez, R. (2008) ‘Bringing commercial games into the classrooms’ Computers and Composition,25, pp. 331-358.
  • Lacasa, P.; Martínez-Borda, R.; Méndez, L. (2008) ‘Developing new literacies using commercial digital games as educational tools’. Linguistis & Education, 19 (2), pp. 85-106.
  • Lacasa, P.; Méndez, L.; Martínez, R. (2009). ‘Learning using videogames as educational tools: Building bridges between commercial and serious games’. In Marja Kankaanranta & Pekka Neittaanmäki (Eds) ‘Design and use of serious games’, (107-126). Milton Keynes, UK: Springer.



Website Research Group Imágenes, Palabras e Ideas. Madrid. 2009.
Coordination: Pilar Lacasa. Editing and digital support: David Herrero Martínez. Web Master: Luis Briso de Montiano Aldecoa. Graphic Design: Rebeca Ochoa Bernabé

Website Research Group Imágenes, Palabras e Ideas. Madrid. 2009. All rights reserved | Credits - Last Update: 22/10/2011