On Girl Games: Gender Inclusivity (or not) in 9 Video Games

If you haven’t seen the YouTube series Hey Ash, Whatcha Playin’ by sister-brother duo Ashly and Anthony Burch, I recommend taking a look (NB, it tends to employ language and jokes that are not appropriate for children or the workplace). This episode on “girl games” got me thinking: what makes a game suitable for female players? What games belong on that list? Continue reading

History Games: Why I Love Mount & Blade

Data Theory Play llama in historical viking costume holding sword

The Mount & Blade franchise is the work of an indie studio in Turkey, TaleWorlds Entertainment. It is a terrific game as well as a terrific history lesson, one the best examples I know of an educational game that is just superbly fun as well as imparting information and stirring curiosity for its subject matter.

Mount & Blade boasts a handful of unique play experiences. One of them is its excellent riding and mounted combat. The sandbox gameplay is also well done, with many different approaches to play; the game will congratulate players for a variety of achievements, rather than encouraging one particular path to “winning,” but satisfaction comes from watching your own plans come to fruition. Continue reading

Are We Overlooking Paper Games?

As an educator, I’ve sometimes had the feeling that technology in school was an end in itself rather than a means to better learning experiences. Perhaps you’ve been there, too.

Technology absolutely has its place in learning. A big place, even, especially when it comes to digital games. But I’ve had two occasions this week to think about the place of games that don’t require modern technology, and to consider that they might be undervalued in the exploding field of educational gaming.

Data Theory Play llamas holding board game pieces Continue reading

Create a Game Prototype Kit: 5 Versatile Components

If you create your own games, you have ideas that need to be tested. Create a lab space for yourself by keeping a game kit around, with some basic components in it that can be used for just about any mechanic you have in mind.

Game parts aren’t very expensive, and you don’t need much to get started. Here are five of the most useful, most versatile components, along with sources and, if you need them, even cheaper substitutes.

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A New Project: Verbs in Play

For this long-time language teacher, the game that teaches language skills is something of a holy grail. In the past few years, the classes I’ve taught haven’t been focused so much on language acquisition and grammar as on cultural understanding; with students already at least moderately conversational in the target language, I was able to design games that focused on other concepts (international conflict, the immigrant experience). But the game that teaches language is always in the back of my mind.

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Any grails?

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Napoleon’s Triumph Schooled Us

William and I are in the middle of a game of Napoleon’s Triumph, the hard-to-find board game that models the battle of Austerlitz. The game jumped to the front of our to-play list when William finally acquired a copy in excellent condition two weeks ago, and after a few hours of tense in-game decision-making, we are already much impressed.

Napoleon
Although Napoleon is not necessarily impressed.

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