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Phil Garland
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Charlotte
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Henry VIII and the Reformation Parliament is a role-playing simulation for classroom use. Perhaps it doesn't really belong on BGG, but since it is here, and I've finally run several sessions for my classes, I figured it's time for a review.

Henry is one of a series of games developed by Barnard College in New York each focusing on a specific historical event or period. The series is called Reacting to the Past, and each game is composed of a student book (the ones listed on the geek) and an instructors guide (downloadable from the publisher). Individuals in each game are given roles, either generic in some cases, or specific named individuals (as with Henry). Each character has his/her own goals in the game, which lasts over some 10 or so class periods (75 minute classes). Students will also generally meet outside class with their various allies or factions as well.

As for Henry specifically, the game focuses on the years of the Reformation Parliament from 1529-1536. Various events, debates, and legislation are worked through from session to session. Among the characters portrayed by the students are Thomas More, Thomas Cromwell, John Fisher, Charles Brandon, Thomas Howard, and Thomas Cranmer. King Henry is portrayed by the gamesmaster at the start and end of each parliamentary session, and is on hand for several key debates to pressure members. Characters can rise in power and influence, fall, and be sent to the block or the stake.

I doubt that the games can be effectively run outside of a classroom. The group is too big and the time too long. For a fifty minute three day per week class you would need about three to four weeks to complete a game. Most have shortened versions detailed in the instructor's manuals, but less than two weeks is doubtful.

I ran two sections of the game in the Fall 2011 semester, and the students thoroughly enjoyed it. Class participation increased dramatically and absenteeism dropped to a minimum. The games depend not only on role-playing but reading and using various original texts to support arguments and positions. I now have several classes of community college freshmen who are familiar with Utopia, The Prince, Defensor Pacis, and various writings of Martin Luther. I find this to be quite pleasing.

Next semester, I'm trying another of the series, The Threshold of Democracy: Athens in 403 BC. My aim is to eventually work one of the games into each of the survey classes that I teach, both halves of World Hist and both halves of US Hist.

If you're looking for some sort of gaming to use in class, I can heartily endorse the series. The Reacting website is excellent, including videos of students in game sessions. A number of conferences for faculty are held around the country each year, with the main one at Barnard College itself in early summer.



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Roberto Vaccari
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Very interesting idea and review, compliments!
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Sean Chick (Formerly Paul O'Sullivan)
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Fag an bealac! Riam nar druid ar sbarin lann! Cuimhnigidh ar Luimnech agus feall na Sassonach! Erin go Bragh! Remember Limerick! Remember Ireland and Fontenoy!
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Well, I'm afraid it'll have to wait. Whatever it was, I'm sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman round here?
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Do you know where one can find these games? I could really use something like this for teaching the American Revolution.
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Derek Green
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Quote:
Next semester, I'm trying another of the series, The Threshold of Democracy: Athens in 403 BC. My aim is to eventually work one of the games into each of the survey classes that I teach, both halves of World Hist and both halves of US Hist.


All of this sounds like a very cool idea. Do you know where the game on Athens can be found?
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Phil Garland
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gittes wrote:
Do you know where one can find these games? I could really use something like this for teaching the American Revolution.


Pearson is the publisher for the nine games in the series that have been published--here is their link:

www.pearsonhighered.com/educator/series/Reacting-to-the-Past...

Barnard College's Reacting website is more detailed for the entire series, as there are some 23 or so games in development with files available once you join the faculty forum. Their website is:

http://reacting.barnard.edu/about

Enjoy!
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John Moser
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Ashland
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I'm a big fan of this series. I've used Henry VIII, as well as the French Revolution and American Revolution games. I've also developed my own, set in Tokyo in 1940-41.
 
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