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Subject: Starting an after school gaming club rss

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Gérard Kraus
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I'm an English language teacher in Luxembourg, and I'm about to start a gaming club at a loval high school.
The school caters for 12-19 year olds, but I expect the oldest student members to be no older than 17.

My idea is to cover some game concepts, obviously play them, and talk about them. Doing this according to the techniques used in the games seems to be the thing that springs out to me at the moment.
I thought of using Forbidden Island as a starter to show the difference to some of the 'classic' games that the kids might already know. Subsequently looking at the big guns, like Catan, Dominion, etc.

I'd be thankful for any comments, ideas or hints.
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Jakob Bavnshøj
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Great idea!

When introducing young non-gamers to real games we often uses Ticket to Ride. Low complexity, high re-playability, easy concept, etc...
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John Welch
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Hello Gérard - I wish you all the luck getting your game club together. I'm a high school history teacher in California and have used games with my students. I designed a game on the French Revolution called Levée en Masse which now has a French version in addition to the original in English. If you go to the game page here on BGG, you'll see lots of pictures of my students playing it. Just a thought if you were planning to use games to teach a little history.

Again, all the best with your game club!
 
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I have voluntarily run a gaming "class" in my local secondary school for two years now (I am a teacher at a commercial school). I had high expectations into this class regarding explaining them types of games, giving them examples for each type of game etc....

You now what? All they want to do is PLAY! Which is fair enough for me. Recommendations really depend on the number of student you have and on your class length.

I have made very good experience with:

Werewolfes
The resistance

Dominion
Thunderstone
7 Wonders

Pandemie

Fantasy Roleplaying
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Dig around the forums. I know there're threads around here about high school game clubs, including severe details on how to run them successfully.

Is the objective to teach them English?
 
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Calavera Despierta
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I run one. It just finished this evening in fact.

Around 10 kids come each week, from 3:30 - 6:00 PM.

I have a library of games that I purchased for the kids to play. Usually I run one table of games with kids, while some of the older students who know the rules of the games well will run a game or two at other tables.

Popular games include:
Quarriors
Battlestar Galactica
Cosmic Encounter
Citadels
Arkham Horror
Robo Rally

Other games the clubs own that some kids enjoy but others find too complex or full of too much negative conflict:
Game of Thrones
Intrigue
Acquire
Genoa
Diplomacy
Agricola

I will also sometimes bring in games from my personal collection to share with the kids, including Runewars, Descent, Space Hulk, Carcassone, etc etc.

I also have Go sets, and decks of cards, etc.

Most of the games were purchased via fundraising in the club, or were given to the club by donation.
 
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JayRa wrote:
I'm an English language teacher in Luxembourg, and I'm about to start a gaming club at a loval high school.
The school caters for 12-19 year olds, but I expect the oldest student members to be no older than 17.

My idea is to cover some game concepts, obviously play them, and talk about them. Doing this according to the techniques used in the games seems to be the thing that springs out to me at the moment.
I thought of using Forbidden Island as a starter to show the difference to some of the 'classic' games that the kids might already know. Subsequently looking at the big guns, like Catan, Dominion, etc.

I'd be thankful for any comments, ideas or hints.


Cheers friend! I did the same a few years ago.

If I were you I'd dig around for good 2 player abstracts and quick 2 and 4 player games for when kids get antsy and don't want to see your Euro all the way through. Things that work really well as fillers for these two purposes are Rumis, Chaos, Chess, Blokus, Quarto, etc..

Two games that I've found really catch on: Dixit with my girls and LOTR:Confrontation with my boys. Both games get lots of requests.

A really important concept is to build familiarity. Once they know a game it becomes infinitely more enjoyable. It might take a nudge to get them to play a game for the first two times, by the third, they will be asking to challenge one another.
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Gérard Kraus
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Thanks for all the comments.

To add a bit of context I should say that:
- I want the kids to explore games that they might not necessarily become exposed to otherwise.
- In addition, I would like to be able to get them to look at them and understand what makes them work, respectively, talk about them with an informed opinion.
- Of course this means a lot of playing, but I'd like to be able to talk about what makes the game work while, or after we play.
- The school already has a high level chess team, I don't want to compete with them, and I doubt I will.
- I have no intention in furthering the English agenda here, even though a lot of my games are in English because my wife's Canadian, and they are often easier to obtain.

I was wondering if there was a point to exploring the games on the 'Spiel des Jahres' list. I get the impression that they are different enough from year to year, and a lot of them are well thought of games. I wouldn't want to go exclusive, but the proximity to Germany, and the gravitas attached to the 'best of year' moniker seem to be worth a go.
 
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Calavera Despierta
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JayRa wrote:
Thanks for all the comments.

To add a bit of context I should say that:
- I want the kids to explore games that they might not necessarily become exposed to otherwise.


I would say that this is easily accomplished. However, don't forget that they are kids, and kids have different desires, attention spans, and likes and dislikes than adults. In my experience kids are willing to TRY most any new game, but what they will like and play again is another matter entirely. Generally, they prefer games with high interaction, and they like conflict. They also don't seem to care much for complexity, and are only barely tolerant of fiddliness. That means multi-player solitaire style euros are likely to fall flat, at least they have here.

Quote:
- In addition, I would like to be able to get them to look at them and understand what makes them work, respectively, talk about them with an informed opinion.
- Of course this means a lot of playing, but I'd like to be able to talk about what makes the game work while, or after we play.


I think this is noble, but unlikely to occur, to be quite frank. Kids who show up to a gaming club are going to want to PLAY, not be lectured at. That doesn't mean you can't have informal discussions about this stuff while playing, but in general I've found even the most serious, intelligent, top honors students are not really interested in discussions of game mechanics or game theory or the nuances of strategy and tactics - they mostly want to interact with each other and have some fun, at least in my experience.

Quote:
- The school already has a high level chess team, I don't want to compete with them, and I doubt I will.


I don't think that will be an issue. Chess is such a finite and specific thing, that you are likely to attract people to your club for very different reasons.

Quote:
- I have no intention in furthering the English agenda here, even though a lot of my games are in English because my wife's Canadian, and they are often easier to obtain.


I didn't realize it was some sort of conspiracy or agenda.

Quote:
I was wondering if there was a point to exploring the games on the 'Spiel des Jahres' list. I get the impression that they are different enough from year to year, and a lot of them are well thought of games. I wouldn't want to go exclusive, but the proximity to Germany, and the gravitas attached to the 'best of year' moniker seem to be worth a go.


Er... sure?
Many of the early ones are just sort of dry and uninteresting. Though Liar's Dice is always popular. But stuff like Carc, Tikal, Torres, Alhambra, are just dry and likely to fall flat - at least they did here, and some of the others - Zooloreto, Niagara, etc are a bit too... young? Dominion has been hit and miss here, as has Dixit. The best bet is to just try them out? But again, let me reiterate, they are kids, kids are social, and any game that will let them do that will be a big hit.

 
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Peter Marchlewitz
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Citadels always worked well in my afterschool game clubs.
Good luck!
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James Fung
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JayRa wrote:
- In addition, I would like to be able to get them to look at them and understand what makes them work, respectively, talk about them with an informed opinion.
- Of course this means a lot of playing, but I'd like to be able to talk about what makes the game work while, or after we play.

Tell the students that there are many, many games out there, many that they will like and many they won't like, and therefore you're going to try to expose them to a wide variety of games to find out the sort of games they like. After each meeting, have each student tell you (in discussion or on paper) what was their favorite game and why. Or their least favorite game and why. Or compare games to ones they played before.

As MScrivner said, maybe the kids won't join into an informed opinion discussion wholeheartedly, but hopefully they'll be interested in helping you pick out games they'll enjoy. And under the above, you can at least test the waters a bit, and maybe a few kids will be interested in continuing the dialogue.
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Gérard Kraus
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I've compiled a first list of games to use at the gameclub, which I've titled 'Ludology: Play Games, Understand Games'

Forbidden Island
Qwirkle
Hive
Ticket to Ride
Quarriors
Survive: Escape from Atlantis
Dixit
Thurn & Taxis
Citadels

-edit-
Settlers
Roborally
Dominion

I'm trying to think of an agressive race game, à la The Great Space Race but not coming up with anything at the moment. I'd like to avoid using my copy of it in school as the cards are a bit flimsy.
 
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Clare Zigmond
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I began a club at my school in November. The first week I had 2 boys, I'm now up to 5 regulars. They are so keen to try anything, there have been a few times when I've thought a game was falling flat and suggested quitting and playing something else but thy never take me up on it. Despite initial fears they are very respectful of my games, understanding that they are mine personally they count everything back into the bags and are careful with everything they use.
They enjoy everything I take along so much that I'm tempted sometimes to take along something that I think they might not like just to see their reaction.

We've played:

Alien Frontiers (2010)
Carcassonne (2000)
Citadels (2000)
Dominion (2008)
Forbidden Island (2010)
Guillotine (1998)
Kill Doctor Lucky... and His Little Dog, Too! (2007)
Pandemic: On the Brink (2009)
Quarriors! (2011)
Revolution! (2009)
The Settlers of Catan (1995)


Dominion and Alien Frontiers are their favorites but they'll try anything.

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Kathleen Mercury
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I made a new post with last semester's games. Check it out.


http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/749550/show-my-students-...

Also, if you look at my game list, most of my games students play. I look for games that can be played in 30-40 minutes, have clear, innovative, elegant mechanics, a fun theme, good balance between luck and strategy, player interaction. I highly recommend the game Survive amidst everything else.
 
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David Laine
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My wife runs a high school after-school program, and gaming is one of the hot tickets that keeps drawing kids back. Some of their favorites include Dominion, Pandemic, and Blokus. At one point, they lost some of the fiddlier Blokus pieces and fashioned replacements out of paper clips or something. I think they also get good mileage out of Carcassonne and Ticket to Ride. Mostly gateway games--these aren't hardcore gamers, and they're a small segment of the 200+ kids that come in per day.

MScrivner wrote:
I run one. It just finished this evening in fact.

Around 10 kids come each week, from 3:30 - 6:00 PM.

I have a library of games that I purchased for the kids to play. Usually I run one table of games with kids, while some of the older students who know the rules of the games well will run a game or two at other tables.

Popular games include:
Quarriors
Battlestar Galactica
Cosmic Encounter
Citadels
Arkham Horror
Robo Rally

Other games the clubs own that some kids enjoy but others find too complex or full of too much negative conflict:
Game of Thrones
Intrigue
Acquire
Genoa
Diplomacy
Agricola

I will also sometimes bring in games from my personal collection to share with the kids, including Runewars, Descent, Space Hulk, Carcassone, etc etc.

I also have Go sets, and decks of cards, etc.

Most of the games were purchased via fundraising in the club, or were given to the club by donation.


That is one strong game library for a HS after-school club! And they're able to set up and play games like AH and GoT in those 2 1/2 hour slots? Good for them!
 
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Ryan Sturm
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I have experience in running an afterschool gameclub for 4th to 8th graders and have been sitting on an article I wrote about it, so I maybe I should post it, let me go find it...

here it is!
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Gérard Kraus
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RyanSturm wrote:
I have experience in running an afterschool gameclub for 4th to 8th graders and have been sitting on an article I wrote about it, so I maybe I should post it, let me go find it...

here it is!


Thanks Ryan. It was actually you and Jeff that inspired me to attempt this, listening to Ludology made me realize that there might be some worth in teaching this, beyond all the usual benefits of boardgames.
 
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Gérard Kraus
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After approaching the headmaster of the school with the idea, I got the all clear and was told to pick a room and promote the activity.
Since our school has a video-screen announcement system I had them run a slide announcing the activity for the last week. In addition I put up a couple of posters and distributed flyers to all the classes.

The activity will run for 105 minutes on Wednesday afternoons (The school runs on 50 minute lessons with 5 minute breaks inbetween)

Today's the first day. I'm going to take the following in for day 1, to present and scope out the situation:
Survive: Escape from Atlantis!
Forbidden Island
Dixit
Dominion
Citadels
Qwirkle
Ticket to Ride

Covering all the bases that Ryan's article suggests, and then some.
I'll be back later today to report on how it went.
 
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Gérard Kraus
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Off to a good start.
2 graduation class kids that I thaught 2 years ago showed up asking about the content of the "lessons".
A lot of the kids that showed some interest, so my colleagues say, were participating in the mathletics competition that was held at my school today.
Better luck next week I suppose.
 
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Hi Gérard, congratulations on your new game club!

How many students came to the club today?

One of the things that I find important is to take some games that are easy to teach and to remember - so that if there are enough players for more than one game, one group can just go off and get started. Citadels and especially Qwirkle (and possibly Dixit/Survive - I haven't played those two) would be great choices. In my experience, Dominion needs a little more attention and TTR quite a lot more attention - as does Settlers - so some easy games like these and maybe some cardgames ensure that students can teach one another while you focus on the more complex games.
 
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melissa wrote:
Hi Gérard, congratulations on your new game club!

How many students came to the club today?

One of the things that I find important is to take some games that are easy to teach and to remember - so that if there are enough players for more than one game, one group can just go off and get started. Citadels and especially Qwirkle (and possibly Dixit/Survive - I haven't played those two) would be great choices. In my experience, Dominion needs a little more attention and TTR quite a lot more attention - as does Settlers - so some easy games like these and maybe some cardgames ensure that students can teach one another while you focus on the more complex games.


I agree. I have a board games group as part of our Friday afternoon extension programme and I always start students off with a few fillers so that they can then start games themselves when they come the following week. I have found Blokus, Hey, That's My Fish!, Zombie Dice and Formula Motor Racing (plus others) very good for this. Once these shorter games are established I try to teach a new big game each week, sometimes two, and I often join in the first time round. What happens is that often those boys that play will want to play again the next week, so I only have to act as rules lawyer and arbitrator, whilst I move on to teach another game. Other games that I have found to work well (bear in mind I teach at an all boys school) - Eketorp, Small World, Ave Caesar, Memoir '44 (they play in pairs), and Kingsburg.
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Gérard Kraus
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Well, it's been three weeks of me waiting for somebody to show up, and nobody did. So I call it quits.
On the other hand, I've had some success at the other school I'm teaching. There, Monday afternoon is Gaming Club time, has been for a year now. While the basic idea was to have a time slot to play Magic: The Gathering, it has now attracted more attention. Previously, there were about 3-5 teachers and up to 2 students playing the CCG, now a group of 3-5 12-13 year olds have showed up, who are quite into the games that I've been able to show them.
So Far we had a go at Ticket to Ride, Survive: Escape from Atlantis, Roborally, and Castle Panic. The original plan of looking at the games in details has, age-oblige, been cut out, and I am currently working on their attention spans, ability to comprehend and stick to the rules, and some basic tactical thinking, pausing the game and explaining choices, etc.
Last week, when we played a 6-player game of Castle Panic, I had also taken the White Goblin version of Dragon Gold which the kids got interested in, so I'll give that a try, but I'm pretty sure it will be a crazily chaotic session...
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sorry to hear that Gerard. I wish my kids have teachers like you
 
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Gérard Kraus
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Another Monday game club is over, today's menu: Dragon's Gold.

I came in late as I was in a meeting beforehand, some of the other teachers and kids were there already playing a 5 player game of Magic, and unpacking the newest edition Boosters. The kids, had apparently already tried to set up a game of Pandemic, but never having had the game explained to them gave up after it looked too complicated.
When I came in they quickly turned their eyes to Dragon's Gold, and I even got them to pay attention and not interrupt my explaining the rules. We were quickly on our way to slay dragons and amass vast fortunes. The kids seemed very eager to share loot, only now and again having arguments over an uneven split. The time pressure seemed to take precedence over a deal, with none of the deals failing. They even accepted some ludicrously one-sided deals when it came to within 5 seconds of the minute.
In the end, the scores sat at 56, 51, 47 and 46. And all parties seemed pleased.
I particularly tried to focus on getting them to let each other take their turns without butting in, or trying to get the other player to make a move beneficial to them. Coaching on who to steal from was pretty quickly obsolete, when one of them had obtained the black gem - they didn't care about the cure aspect of it ('7 points, man, that's huuuuge!')

In the end it looks like I'll take the game back after the upcoming week's break as some of the Magic playing crowd were very impressed with the commotion we created.
 
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Gérard Kraus
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Yesterday I returned to the school's gameclub to find 9 people there waiting, two of the students for the other teachers to arrive to play some M:tG, the others, the younger bunch, eager to see what I'd brought along. During the week-long carnival holiday I'd dug up Toc-Toc-Woodsman, which went down a treat. Although the kids seemed to go at it very methodically, hitting the top bits first, and thus getting a lot of cores off. They played two round, with the second one being much shorter, as one kid knocked the whole thing down on his second go.

Then I brought out Formula D, which we played with 8 players, as by that time it had become clear that one of the M:tG playing teachers wasn't going to show up. We played the Monaco course, and I had the worst dice luck ever. I stalled at the start and managed to get my car damaged at 50% of the collisions that I was involved in, leaving me with little space to take risks. The whole group was in a big group, stretching and shrinking as turns and straights alternated, but even two turns from the end all but one of the cars were no more than 10 spots apart. In the end, we had to rush a couple of last rolls around the last bend and into the finish. The 105 minutes that we have are somewhat restrictive nevertheless
Everybody was having a lot of fun and we are getting to a point were the kids actually know how to adapt their behaviour when playing games at the club.

That said, there are two cases which are still providing a bit op a problem: One is always telling others what to do, despite constant reminders to respect everybody's right at their own decisions. The other has real trouble focussing and planning ahead (e.g. while everybody spend the other players' turns counting squares and trying to figure out what gear to use for next turn, he would play with dice, leftover cars or his watch and then feel really pressured and get AP when it came to his turn. Both teachers involved tried to remind him to look at things differently, but I guess we'll have to wait until next week to see the results. I was going to talk to both of them ahead of next weeks session and remind them what we had discussed before.

I was wondering how other people had handled cases like this?

*Edited for geek-links*
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