Revenge of the Thought Police?

Thoughtcrime logo

You may have seen other posts on my blog about Thoughtcrime and wondered what it is all about. Thoughtcrime is an online role-playing game based on George Orwell’s classic 1984, a common text in the secondary literature canon. I designed Thoughtcrime to help students engage the text, connect to its characters, and experience its ideas a little more directly. In other words, I am trying to use technology to support what we know about literary reading. If you’d like to know more about the game, check out the Thoughtcrime support site.

Tenth-graders in Anne Lagrand’s English Honors class are currently playing Thoughtcrime in a high school in rural Michigan. So far, the Thought Police have eliminated all but one member of the Underground. Anne set up a threaded discussion at, where her students are discussing the connections between playing the game and reading the text. A few of their comments so far:

By playing thought crime it is easier to see why people can be so easily controlled and why they are all suspicious of eachother. the only thing i dont completely understand is how the party gained all of this power and control in the first place.

this is so much fun…i want to play next year too.
or maybe i have no life…

Playing thought crime is a very interesting experience. It helps you relate to the characters in the book and see how it might really have been to live in “1984”. It makes the book more fun to read.

I think this is fun and its wierd to try to figure out who is who because no one really keeps in character at all or even so much talks about anything reguarding thought crime but it would be more like the book if people did it right.

I think that ThoughtCrime is a fun game. It’s a nice way to sort of involve everyone, because everyone is talking about it that is playing it. It would be a lot more fun if everyone stayed in character, and really tried to sound like the book, though.

Well I think Thought Crime would be a fun game if everyone played it right and didnt just go places accusing everyone of being a thought police. Alot of people just screw around and pretend to be underground. It also isn’t very fun when people use your name as a screen name and then say things about other people. I had people come up to me after class and were like why did you say that and I was like that wasnt me. You can also tell who is teamed up with eachother. Generally whoever is sitting next to you knows who you are. It really hasnt changed my view on the book. I still really dont like it and all this New Speak stuff is crazy.

The game of thoughtcrime has inluenced my reading of the book in the fact that I can now see how difficult it is to identify the thoughtpolice. I have also learned how difficult it would be to meet with underground members. I don’t think it has helped me with the aspect of trying to understand the amount of restriction that is put on the lives of the characters.

Thoughtcrime has really lead me to understand the book alot more than i would without it. I think it has changed my view on the book because now i can sort-of imagine what it would have been like to live like that. Bring back the BAR!!!

By playing the game it makes it easier to understand what the characters in the book have been going through. it makes the little things in the book better explained. plus its alot of fun.

The game has created a bigger picture of the setting in 1984 where there is tension and anxiety everywhere because of the thoughtpolice. It has showed me what it is like not knowing where the police are or who they were.

The game of thoughtcrime seems to intrest me more after playing this because I can relate with how the book is “played out”. The book also helps me to find out what certain characters do in their lifes.

No place is safe. In order to tople the oppressive government one must organize a rebellion which has been made almost impossible to do with the constant observation of conversation and actions. One cannot gain support unless one is willing to put oneself at risk. Any person being recruited to the underground knows they are at great risk by talking to underground let alone joining them. There’s no way of knowing who is who and who is what.