Classcraft: Storytelling

2013 - 2021


I spearheaded the creation of Classcraft's original IP designed to support its game-like classroom experience. I led the creative and art direction and built out a team of illustrators, animators, and writers with whom I worked along side with to produced it.


Creative Direction

I had the pleasure of initially working with Susan O'Connor to identify the broad principles that would act as the foundation to the world we were building. When setting out to create a fantasy universe with the explicit goal of fostering collaboration between students and driving social-emotional development, we noted a few important considerations.

Given students would be engaged with the IP on a daily basis throughout the school year, it was important for it to be grounded in a utopian reality versus dystopian one.

When thinking about collaboration, a key element was to establish different points of view and then a common purpose so that everyone would be incentivized to work together. As a result, we created three main islands in our world, each with its own unique tribe, and then started our story when they were all brought together for the first time in centuries to begin solving an ancient mystery. This created fertile ground for the protagonists to develop empathy, explore their differences, and learn from one another.

We also mapped the narrative experience to the emotional experience students were having during these formative years. As they move through middle and high school, their understanding grows and they generally gain more independence and autonomy. To reflect those important trends, we structured the world so that it started out small and grew over time, placing a strong emphasis on creating mystery and experiences of discovery.

Lastly, it was key that the experience foster social emotional learning in a meaningful way. We used CASEL's social and emotional learning framework to guide the narrative development by picking core competencies and then writing stories where the main protagonists modeled them. We eventually wrote curriculum for teachers to help students master the concepts portrayed in the stories at a deeper level.

World Building

Classcraft’s lore begins with a powerful ancient civilization called the Voek. The Voek personify the universal theme of the pursuit of knowledge and specifically, what happens when we take this to its limit. Having pushed too far, now all that is left of their lost civilization are ancient relics that mysteriously start coming back to life.

Here is the initial trailer shown to students when starting to using Classcraft in their classes:

Here is another animated cut seen a bit later in the timeline:

These animations were created by our amazing in-house team and then I collaborated with the exceptionally talented composer Garth Stevenson to score them. Video game veteran Jean Guesdon (notably having been the creative director on Assassin's Creed) was also an instrumental mentor in the process, helping us put best practices and tools in place to establish a lasting, versatile franchise.

Character and Creature Designs

The characters were designed around three main tribes: Healers, Guardians, and Mages. We created a gear progression that got gradually more powerful as students unlocked them.

We also created various creatures that served as bosses in our Boss Battles and companions for students' avatars.


We created a rich world comprised of many different locations. In this initial map, we can see the three islands previously mentioned (Morian, the home of the Guardians, Elda, the home of the Healers, and Karaz, the home of the Mages), as well as the long-lost Voek island in the middle of the map which appears in the intro trailer. Various other locations follow.


When traveling to different locations, students would update their backgrounds in the main interface to reflect where they'd been. Here are some of those environments.

Powers and Skills

As students progressed, they unlocked powers and skills, giving them more autonomy in class. Below are some of the illustrations we created for them.

Narratives and Storyboards

We wrote an entire season of adventures teachers could use in conjunction with their lesson plans (21 episodes total). These are some of the illustrations created to accompany these stories.

Student Reaction

The responses from students was overwhelming. Many became very identified with their characters and teams. It led to some surprising outcomes, everything from students coming to school dressed up in cosplay, to having full-blown, school-wide themed days with dance competitions in the gym.

Other work