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Flaming the Inferno - Game Based Learning

Updated: Nov 14, 2022

Throughout the years, one of my go-to endurance strategies, in the classroom has been incorporating my love of video games to the creation of some memorable learning experiences. Flaming the Inferno is one case in point. I developed this hefty (about 1-month) learning experience based on the phenomenal video game, Little Inferno, by Tomorrow Corporation. This particular creation connects well with my podcast episode, "What's On the Agenda?".

The experience itself focuses on a variety of Language Arts elements including:

-parts of speech

-high level question stems

-text structure

That being said, the true beauty comes at the end with the student's culminating paper. For it is with this paper that the students dig in and connect to the allusions of this surprisingly deep game. If you think that the game is simply about . . .

  1. buying toys

  2. burning toys

. . . you're missing the deeper thematic meanings. The first key hint comes with an advertisement (propaganda) sent to us by Miss. Nancy, who owns the Little Inferno company.

So, at the end of this month-long learning experience, the students were tasked with choosing a writing option to delve deeper into this "flaming" world and its true meaning.

The most popular prompt was . . .

  1. Little Inferno is an allusion for cellphone addiction.

This prompt was born from the fact that the characters are encouraged to spend their days, all day, staring into the fire, while burning their toys. This is obviously meant to keep their attention off of what is going on within the world outside. Hence, keep one's attention on pointless matters, while being oblivious to what is truly important.

Below, you'll see two of my 8th grade student's papers.

In the video game Little Inferno the character is found in a small room with a fireplace, a catalog, and no windows. As the game continues he learns the fireplace isn't only used for heat, it can also be used for entertainment. After this point the little boy begins to get addicted to burning toys, and he has never been outside. Because of never seeing the outer world the only reality that he knows is his Little InfernoFireplace. This corresponds to how electronics affect one's life. The original idea for phones was to make communication simpler, but now as the entertainment and social media industry has grown, the phones have become more time consuming as the entertainment from social media has increased. The evidence provided alludes tothe Little Inferno videogame being a metaphor for over media consumption.

One could find many similarities between the Little Inferno Fireplace and social media, but one of the notable similarities is how the letters and packages are interchangeable with notifications. The particular reason for this is, notifications in social media are typically used to bring people's attention back to the app and persuade the user to spend added time on said app. By spending time in that virtual reality, people are earning someone else money. Consequently this is similar to letters and packages in the video game, as those tools are used to convince the character to burn additional items and as a product, earning The Tomorrow Corporation an increased income. Another instance of this pattern relates back to bringing in more money for the company, as a good deal of these reasons do. When one burns toys in the game just to buy new toys, it parallels burning what could be time spent with real people, for people on the internet. Nevertheless people continue to do this just to obtain additional followers or likes. In light of this information, it is clear that the Little Inferno video game mirrors real life and social media in an almost unsettling way.

Provided with this information it's obvious that the Little Inferno video game references back to real life and social media. On account that notifications correspond to packages and letters and burning toys to buy those toys again mirrors spending time online instead of using that time for things of greater importance. Players can clearly see that this video game demonstrates how prevalent the media is in society, just as the Little Inferno Fireplace is in the characters' lives. One can draw the conclusion that the game creators are emulating how addictive social media is with the example of the fireplace. It's important to note that these acts are unsettling in the form of a video game, with some sinister music, but in physical life it's the standard. Now players have been left with all but one question, where has all the time gone? One can assume it has gone up, up, up the chimney, just like everything else.


Everyone uses phones, tablets, and computers to use up a huge amount of time that could be used for something else. What is not realized is that these devices take up a great deal of one’s time. All these devices are very similar to the Little Inferno Fireplace, taking up valuable time. Every toy one burns is exactly like the hours spent on social media. The inability to differentiate between truths and lies. The Little Inferno Fireplace reflects the problems in the real world.

To begin, the Little Inferno fireplace is like an electronic device. When one is in front of the fireplace or on a phone, one can spend hours on end without having any connection to the outside world. In the Little Inferno fireplace commercial, the man says “There’s no need to leave your house, just stay in front of your fireplace and burn all your toys, over and over again,”. Like the Little Inferno Fireplace which uses propaganda, people on the internet use fake news to promote their biased views. These pieces of propaganda are widely believed. People get easily shaken by this. There is nothing like that with the Little Inferno Fireplace. Still, with both, one has no idea of the real world. There are so many ways someone can be manipulated to believe something. In the case of this game, the character spends hours and hours burning toys and is manipulated by Miss Nancy and she takes all the money away. The Little Inferno is like an average day on social media.

To conclude, the Little Inferno Fireplace is like a mirror to social media. Time goes by, and one stares mindlessly at a screen. The toys are being burnt, which is an allusion to a normal day of scrolling through TikTok or Instagram. Each toy that was burnt just shows how much time that’s spent on average. Everyone spends time, valuable time, on social media, and they are perfectly fine with it. The allusion just shows more and more. All those hours and days, that can never be brought back. At the end of the game, the character meets Miss Nancy. What does she give him in return for business? Nothing. She leaves him stuck on Earth while she flies away. In the end, social media does the same thing. While one can spend time scrolling through posts of other people's lives, that doesn’t really help in the long run. Now, there may be friends on the internet, but when one is in something sad, the only people there for them are their family. It’s just a mindless pursuit, social media, to fill up time, and time is valuable.


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