The foolish lady project


This project aims to motivate youngsters in theater-going. To achieve it, we have chosen videogames. The foolish lady is the first videogame created using the real theater play as inspiration. Our experiment tries to clarify if videogames could be used as motivators towards the fine arts. If so, we would like to create an internet  repository with classical plays videogames to substitute the leaflets that they give to us when attending a theater or an opera play.

Youngsters and classical theater

In western countries, young people are losing their interest in theater. The average age of theater audiences is rising up. The gap between the theater and Spanish teenagers is one of the problems that could empty the theaters in the medium term. If we cannot attract that generation to go to the theater, and that lack of interest becomes settled, theater would become a cultural activity for the intellectual elites.

For classical theater, the panorama is even worse–the few young people who go to classical staging are normally on a school trip. In those educational activities, it is common to see the young audience getting bored or using their mobile phones.

One of the key factors to explain the low consumption with respect to scenic arts in Spain is the lack of appropriate policies addressed to catch the interest of young audiences. 75.4% of the population declare to go to the theater almost never, whereas only 3.0% consider it a positive leisure option and frequently attend it. People who went to the theater at an early age present a higher consumption at the moment (69.1% of the spectators). Besides, the high interest in drama detected among regular spectators leads us to think that it is possible to increase theater attendance.

To overcome the gap between young people and theater, it is essential to save the future of the theater. To stop and to invert the current actual tendency requires to work from the theater industry, as well as to influence other activity sectors, especially in education. One of the priorities of the theater industry in Spain is to increase the attractive of the theater in educational programs.

In the last few decades, a new trend has risen, which argues that the educational system must adapt to the new needs of information society. One of the most promising solutions in the field of educational technologies is videogames. According to several studies, videogames have positive advantages over other approaches, such as increasing motivation, enhancing problem-solving abilities, or fostering active learning (learning by doing). Educational games (also called serious games) could help students to build a more reflexive and personalized understanding, and improve their attitude; therefore, games are currently used to address the lack of motivation and abandonment in formative activities.

Game goals

We searched for games to teach drama, but we could not find any. The lack of similar experiences leads us to explore the causes of the disinterest of young audiences in classical drama. We consulted diverse bibliography and interviewed several high school teachers. These were some of the causes detected: 

1) Lack of understanding of the language used during the play. The language used in classical theater plays is written for a different society and culture. Students find it hard to follow the plot; therefore they finally give up and disconnect from the performance. This is different in students from South America, whose language is closer to old Spanish–they are able to follow the storyline better than Spanish audiences, and even get the jokes the author included in the play, which is difficult for the average Spanish spectator who is not used to that language. 

2) Difficulty in understanding the plot due to the play’s pace. Younger generations, due to television and internet, are used to processing huge amounts of information in short periods of time. Drama (especially classical) requires longer periods of time to transmit the information to the spectator and to assimilate it. 

3) Young people feel theater going is old fashioned. In a technified society, there is a gap between young people and drama because they consider it belongs to another era. 

4) Going to the theater is a mandatory activity for teenagers in Spain. In school activities, students have to go to theater mandatorily. Therefore, the activity is not chosen by them but imposed on them. 

5) Lack of awareness about the plot. While, in general, educational centers discuss the play beforehand, we perceive there is a lack of understanding in the storyline. 

Lack of interest appears to be the main problem that separates young people from the theater. Thus, using serious games seems to be a good starting point to tackle the problem. 

The main goal of this study is to evaluate the formative experience with a large number of high school students. Before large-scale experiments, we had to adjust the instrument that would be used as motivational tool. To achieve it, La Dama Boba game was evaluated by master’s students from the E-learning group of the Universidad Complutense de Madrid. That evaluation allowed us to collect their opinions about the game. Afterwards, the game was re-implemented to better fit in the large-scale experiment.