Armello is not an educational game in the way I usually talk about here. A fantasy strategy-RPG that has been described as “Game of Thrones with animals,” it will not teach you about medieval life like Mount & Blade. But it will teach you a few things about game design. Continue reading
Our students are playing video games.
A lot of video games, in fact.
According to a Pew study of 2008 data, 97% of American 12-17 year-olds play digital games on a computer, console, or mobile device. That’s 99% of boys, and 94% of girls.
The Pew study involved over a thousand kids aged 12 to 17. While the 97% statistic may not come as a surprise, the study abounds in interesting, less-expected findings and I recommend reading the whole report. That said, a few points stood out in particular. If you’re considering using digital games in your program, you’ll want to get to know this data. Continue reading
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.
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.
William and I had a conversation about game aesthetics on Saturday, in the context of a board game meet-up where he acquired a game he had long yearned for, but which is out of print and difficult to find. The game is called Napoleon’s Triumph, and it models the battle of Austerlitz (with some ingenious mechanics, by the way).
When I introduced Sans-Papiers (the immigration game) to Isaac Joslin at the University of Denver, we had the luxury of playtime. We spent half an hour or so playing the game together, as I explained the rules in context and we navigated the situations that came up in our particular game. Isaac hadn’t played a tabletop role-playing game before, so the mechanics were new to him, although he picked them up quickly and, I felt, came away from the session with an understanding not just of how the rules functioned as we used them in that instance, but how the RPG models what it tries to model and how its rules serve the game. I was pretty confident that he would be ready to teach the game to his students, but the reality is that many students are not experienced in playing a wide variety of tabletop games; even with an experienced teacher, there is a learning curve to games that has to be addressed.
This week, Isaac Joslin of the University of Denver reports on playtesting Sans-Papiers with his students. Isaac is a specialist in African francophone literature and film, and this course dealt specifically with the immigrant experience in France. Check out his bio at DU’s website. Here’s what he has to say about the game:
Sans-Papiers: role-playing and social realism in the language and culture classroom
By Isaac Joslin – University of Denver
I devoted part of the last session of French current events this semester to collecting feedback about the students’ experience playing games in class. This week, I was able to take a look at the results.
While the survey proved to be more of a lesson, for me, on how not to write surveys, I did glean some interesting comments and overall impressions of what students experienced. Here is a selection of student comments, with my thoughts.