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Subject: Teaching game design....the next step rss

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Madame Mercury
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Hi everyone,

I'm in the process of writing a book prospectus to turn my board game design unit into a classroom resource for teachers to use in their classes. I've got chapter summaries, assessment, resources, all that's easy to do, but I'm working on the rationale. I can talk about it for years, of course, but to distill it succinctly for non-gamers can be tricky, especially when games are seen as outside the curriculum, not a really substantial part of it.

I would appreciate any suggestions you have about the benefits of gaming or game design, and if you teach game design, any lessons you've learned or ideas you'd like to share. I really appreciate it.

Kathleen
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John Fetter
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I think playing and understanding boardgames can be a great educational tool. I am not a teacher, but enjoy playing with my two boys. Boardgames offer such a great variety and depth of experiences. Playing them requires flexibility and creativity in thinking that isn't necessary in typical classes. They also help develop the ability to interact with other people in a complex situation. I think these are valuable and practical skills that will help kids do better in their future careers. Most kids probably don't have much exposure to the depth of games that are available so having a class can open up new horizons for them. Good luck with your book.
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Liam Liam
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Quote:
I would appreciate any suggestions you have about the benefits of gaming or game design, and if you teach game design, any lessons you've learned or ideas you'd like to share. I really appreciate it.


So a bit of brain storming after some strong coffee - none of these are original.

The benefits of gaming (somewhat tailored for children):

i) Fun - enjoying other's company and co-creating an enjoyable experience that requires cooperation and creativity.
ii) Developing critical thinking skills: Including planning, perception, constructing optimum strategies and tactics that are unique and need to by dynamic, learning to apply situational value onto goods and situations, learning how to interact to pursue your own ends.
iii) Learning to lose and learning win - learning about power-differentials.
iv) Social skills of playing with each other, competing with each other and playing by the rules, even when it's not in your interest.
v) Developing patience and lengthening attention spans.
vi) The perception that it's healthier than other competing interests - tv, computer games, street corners.
vii) The safety net of structured activity even without an authority figure in the room.
viii) Many games have additional educational properties - eg teaching the child about certain things - eg WW2, bookkeeping and making a child use and strength literacy and numeracy skills in a practical way.
ix) Confidence.

game design

i) All of the above but with the added magic of changing the child view from the passive consumer of streamlined entertainment to the radically more open perspective of the designer. This is a radical paradigm shift and can empower a child to create whole systems of logic and learn/develop whole new ways of seeing the world and it's structures - for the first time understanding that all building started out as lines on paper.

This is a whole new system of teaching based upon turning children not into the recipient of knowledge based on a static top down structure but the creators of knowledge - from pupils to inventors from knowledge transfer to knowledge exchange. Provided in this process is the ability of the individual child to taylor their curriculum to their own needs and strengths, something that's rarely available available prior to University.
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Pieter
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There is so much to learn from game design and development.

There's the technique: what interfaces work, what mechanisms work, what is engaging, what makes something boring, how to work the statistics, how to explain the rules both in a rulebook and on the board, etc.

Then there's the artistic side of things: what is fun, what looks nice, what is original.

Then there's the organizational aspects: how to head a design team, how to communicate within the team, how to divide the the work, how to come to an agreement, how to collaborate, how to find testers.

Then there's the quality control aspects: how to test the game, what kind of strategies might be employed, how to decide whether a strategy is broken, how to decide what does and does not work, how to fix problems.

Game design is great as a subject because it can be used for many teaching purposes, AND students find it fun to work on. I try to use games in ALL my classes (which are mainly on computer science), as students know games, like to think about games, and like to do projects with games. The theory they learn they could also get from building an inventory management or accounting system, but they would be bored out of their skulls with that stuff. There is no reason why learning cannot be fun, as long as the fun does not come at a cost of theory.

I would be interested in seeing your course material, by the way, as I have been considering teaching a course on game design.
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Chris J Davis
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You're basically designing a miniature universe, with its own inhabitants and laws of physics and everything. How could anyone ever consider a course in godhood not useful?
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Liam Liam
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The publishers may want you to go with philosopher kings/queens over godhood
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BoardGameGeek » Forums » Gaming Related » Games in the Classroom
Re: Teaching game design....the next step
I find game design helps me design systems for inter-personal interaction in real life. Like if you're going to run a business, a game designer should have an easier time designing systems that motivate people to do things, while not being open to abuse.

The thing that makes real-life interaction designing difficult is that you can't count on people's honor inside the game-arena to play nice. When it comes to real money, prestige, seniority, etc, certain people will play as dirty as they can. Making a system robust under those conditions requires knowledge of how people subvert rules for their own purposes.
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Madame Mercury
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monkeyhandz wrote:


So a bit of brain storming after some strong coffee - none of these are original.

The benefits of gaming (somewhat tailored for children):

i) Fun - enjoying other's company and co-creating an enjoyable experience that requires cooperation and creativity.
ii) Developing critical thinking skills: Including planning, perception, constructing optimum strategies and tactics that are unique and need to by dynamic, learning to apply situational value onto goods and situations, learning how to interact to pursue your own ends.
iii) Learning to lose and learning win - learning about power-differentials.
iv) Social skills of playing with each other, competing with each other and playing by the rules, even when it's not in your interest.
v) Developing patience and lengthening attention spans.
vi) The perception that it's healthier than other competing interests - tv, computer games, street corners.
vii) The safety net of structured activity even without an authority figure in the room.
viii) Many games have additional educational properties - eg teaching the child about certain things - eg WW2, bookkeeping and making a child use and strength literacy and numeracy skills in a practical way.
ix) Confidence.

game design

i) All of the above but with the added magic of changing the child view from the passive consumer of streamlined entertainment to the radically more open perspective of the designer. This is a radical paradigm shift and can empower a child to create whole systems of logic and learn/develop whole new ways of seeing the world and it's structures - for the first time understanding that all building started out as lines on paper.

This is a whole new system of teaching based upon turning children not into the recipient of knowledge based on a static top down structure but the creators of knowledge - from pupils to inventors from knowledge transfer to knowledge exchange. Provided in this process is the ability of the individual child to taylor their curriculum to their own needs and strengths, something that's rarely available available prior to University.


Thanks so much for your thoughts. I think the latter points are explained beautifully. So often when they come in the room, I don't hear, "So what are we going to do today?" but they come in armed with a list of self-generated tasks that they need to accomplish. I have a closet full of bits and pieces, blank boards and boxes. They have about 8,000 decisions to make before the end has arrived. Thanks so much for your thoughts.
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Madame Mercury
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Flyboy Connor wrote:
There is so much to learn from game design and development.

There's the technique: what interfaces work, what mechanisms work, what is engaging, what makes something boring, how to work the statistics, how to explain the rules both in a rulebook and on the board, etc.

Then there's the artistic side of things: what is fun, what looks nice, what is original.

Then there's the organizational aspects: how to head a design team, how to communicate within the team, how to divide the the work, how to come to an agreement, how to collaborate, how to find testers.

Then there's the quality control aspects: how to test the game, what kind of strategies might be employed, how to decide whether a strategy is broken, how to decide what does and does not work, how to fix problems.

Game design is great as a subject because it can be used for many teaching purposes, AND students find it fun to work on. I try to use games in ALL my classes (which are mainly on computer science), as students know games, like to think about games, and like to do projects with games. The theory they learn they could also get from building an inventory management or accounting system, but they would be bored out of their skulls with that stuff. There is no reason why learning cannot be fun, as long as the fun does not come at a cost of theory.

I would be interested in seeing your course material, by the way, as I have been considering teaching a course on game design.


I like how you categorized the different processes differently than I've seen before. Game design can be really personal to a child's interests and abilities. One student is working on the mathematical distribution of flowers and their nectar contents in a honeybee game whereas another is working more organically and artistically on the board layout for a fox and eggs game. In this way, they own and control the process to an even greater extent.

Send me a pm with your email and I'll send you the goods.

Thanks for your thoughts. :)
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R Moore
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I GM'd you some. I've been "playtesting" some your ideas as it were with my own "Board Game Design Club" this year instead of the standard Board Game Club. We spend 1/2 hour talking about games once a week and 45 min playing. Some things I stole from you and recommend to everyone who starts a similar club:

1. Start with identifying what a strategy game is and how it differs from luck based games.

2. Each of my kid has their own binder with a copy of curriculum materials and their own notes. Each week we all read from it together and write in it together.

3. Discuss theme without mechanics. Tell a story. Get kids to fantasize about favorite movies, shows, books, whatever. When we develop what the theme of the games are kids aren't allowed to use the words "it's like a cross between this game and that game" because mechanics don't matter at this point.

4. Teach and demonstrate a wide variety of mechanics: resource management, area control, tile placement, variable player powers, etc.. My kids all have tried out and taken notes on a wide variety. I found this to be very useful.

I know have half a dozen kids with ideas that could become real games. and another half dozen in and out of the group, just having fun. This format has really worked for me at keeping a core of kids really engaged. This is an after school program though so it may be different for classroom.

If I were to purchase something, I would like a work-book feel with real usable info right there mixed in. Something maybe with 3 rings already punched for me.
 
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Sebastian Sohn
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Kathleen,

I teach video game design. In many schools, game design is taught separately from programming. Design is hard and programming is hard and teaching both in one class is way too hard. Thus it's not unusual to make a board game as final project in video game design class. It's known as paper or physical prototyping. There is a really blurry line between video and board games and they are more alike than different.

You may not need to reinvent the wheel many video game design textbooks refer and use board games. I co-taught an online workshop for instructors on how to use board games to teach video game design last summer with Ian Schreiber. Ian Schreiber has written a video game design book that teaches using board games. He also reviewed several video game design text book. In Ian's book, he has hundreds of board game design exercises.

Ian's book: http://www.amazon.com/Challenges-Game-Designers-Brenda-Brath...

Ian's game design textbook reviews:
http://teachingdesign.blogspot.com/2007/06/textbook-reviews....

I like Ian's book and Tracy Fullerton's book: http://www.amazon.com/Game-Design-Workshop-Second-Edition/dp...

My fellow design instructor loves The Art of Game Design:
http://teachingdesign.blogspot.com/2009/10/textbook-review-a...

Since in class I have to introduce and teach design, I use video game ports of board games. Video games are a quick way to learn how to play a board game. Ian calls homeWORK homePLAY. Here is my homeplay assignment list: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/51318/
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Bob Long
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Kathleen
Great job on your book. I will be sending you info as soon as I can. I gave a county presentation on gaming as a rationale for creative thinking and curriculum enhancement. My partner presented from the perspective of elementary ed, mine was secondary ed.

Just wanted to give you my own personal kudos for teaching me "how to teach G/T" game design.

I'll be in touch and thanks for all your hard work!
 
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Shawn Sullivan
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Kathleen,

I am a high school teacher that created and developed a Career Technical Education (CTE) animation and a game design pathway. My program consist of animation 1, 2 and 3 plus CTE Animation and a CTE game design class.

I created the animation part of the program 18 years ago. When I first started I ran into the same problems you are facing "This is entertainment not education". I had to prove that it would work and I was on a short leash. I actually had to purchase the equipment and write the curriculum myself. To make a short story long after huge success the program took off and the district agreed with the need for this in education.

5 years ago my students started asking questions about the game industry. As an educator I have always used the philosophy to teach by using my students’ passion. I call it "stealth teaching".

Lucky for me my success with the animation program allowed the game design class to be created without much resistance. What I learned from all of this is passion creates purpose. The student’s interest inspires them to learn more they understand that every thing is connected. They need English for (writing story and rules) Math for (probability, plotting points and timing) and science for (research, physics and design).

With all of that the "non-gamers" in education needs more than just ideas. They want to know about educational strategies, goals and objectives. Below are some statements that I used to help start my program.

• Animation and Game Career Pathway provides an industry-linked CTE program that enables students to reach their college/career goals and prepares them to be competitive in the global marketplace.

• This program delivers high-quality instruction within an enriched learning environment that creates confident, effective thinkers and problems solvers.

• Gaming is also very appealing to a diverse range of adolescents, including students of color, English learners and other groups that are consistently underrepresented among college-going students.

• Provide an authentic educational environment in which many students who have never achieved academic success can begin to envision themselves as college material.

• Students need enriched educational settings, such as hands-on, project-based learning experiences, in which they can develop higher order thinking. As noted in the California Department of Education’s Framework for CTE programs, the Arts, Media and Entertainment Sector requires varying combinations of artistic imagination, metaphoric representation, symbolic connections, and technical skills that involve both in-depth and broad academic preparation as well as the cultivation of such intangible assets as flexibility, problem-solving abilities, and interpersonal skills.

I hope this helps you.

When you finish your book I would be interested in seeing it.

good luck,
Shawn

For more information you can check out my program and some lessons on youtube

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b9Y24Bkr18k





 
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Mike Petty
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I am a game designer (mostly traditional board and card games) and I work in educational technology. I have posted a lot of information about projects I do in the classroom on my blog. I'd suggest taking a look at these posts as a starting point.

http://classroomgamesandtech.blogspot.com/search/label/game%...

And my instructor, Jeff Kupperman, quotes his mentor, Dr. Fred Goodman, as saying, "You might learn if you play a game, but you will certainly learn something if you design a game." That is very true, but it's hard to get teachers to take game design projects on with so many standards to cover. I have had the best luck targeting elective classes in grades 6 - 12.

Please message me if you have any questions. I'll be glad to direct you to any resources I'm aware of if I get more information on what you need.

 
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Pete Henninger
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Great information everybody. Thanks.
 
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Excellent thread! I'm arranging a series of game design/publication workshops as part of my master's degree, so have a pretty strong interest in what you're all saying.

The only thing I'd add: the tabletop industry is ahead of the curve in a lot of ways (crowd funding, self publishing, et cetera) which means skills learned here can be applied pretty much anywhere in the creative economy. Even if your focus is mainly on game design itself, including at least a small section on game publishing (and the changes taking place) might make your argument even stronger.

Also - don't forget RPGs! Fascinating from both the design and the publishing side of things. Just showing someone a copy of Fiasco speaks volumes about the state of RPGs.
 
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I'm doing something similar and it is difficult to package it that it looks not only relevant but succinct enough for students and teachers to use in the classroom.

I've called it 'Think Inside the Box - turn your lessons into card games'. I'm trying to create enthusiasm in the UK to embed learning concept in our curricula into card games.

I'm still new relatively compared to the boardgamegeek community but I am advanced here in the UK. We have a LOT to catch up on. And am really excited for the journey alone.

Still trying to get my head round where/what/how/why/when business in this website...
 
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