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My wife is an elementary school teacher with a Master's degree in Instructional Technology. The big focus of her work is in using technology to improve teaching and teaching methods.

She is, for good or ill, married to a gamer/computer geek. One of the things this means is that she is exposed to a lot of games (but she's not a gamer by any stretch) and has come to realize that some games can help with teaching. That's where I come in. One of my tasks when she works on lessons and lesson plans is to help her identify games that could help. Sometimes there isn't one. Sometimes we modify an existing game to help and other times we "create" our own game.

One of the things we look at when it comes to games is which "intelligence" they use. Multiple Intelligences is a theory that says there are different ways of being smart and that this impacts learning. We probably all know people who can't understand the rules until they play the game or who memorize the rules and still can't play. Those are different intelligences at work.

In my reviews I'm going to try to address the "intelligences" which might be in use for specific games. I'd love to hear feedback about my opinions. I think its easy to see a game a certain way based on who you're playing with. I'm reminded of a guy in our group who was the undisputed champ of Magic until he tried a local con. I think the same applies to many games, so gathering opinions will help.

The intelligences are divided into 8 categories. Some of them are more difficult to game (or find games for) than others and some intelligences lend themselves more to theme than to mechanics.

Linguistic intelligence (Words)
These people tend to think in words rather than pictures. They are good at listening and talking. Usually they are good at teaching and communicating. Games with lots of words tend to favor them - storytelling games and most word games are where they're at their best.

Logical-mathematical intelligence (Numbers and Logic)
These are people that like to make conceptual models of things. They think in logical, reasoned ways. They have lots of questions. They tend to do well at games where planning is key or where numbers are important.

Spatial intelligence (Pictures)
These people think visually. They create images to remember things. They enjoy maps and charts. They tend to do well at games where they can see the solution or where the game relies on understanding spaces.

Bodily-Kinesthetic intelligence (Body)
These are people who have to touch things to understand them and who are focused on their own bodies. They tend to be good athletes or dancers. They do well at dexterity games and non-verbal games (like charades).

Musical intelligence (Music)
Those in this group tend to have musical talent and they think in sounds and patterns. There are very few boardgames which favor them (at least that I'm aware of) although they may find some themes appealing (Battle of the Bands, for example).

Interpersonal intelligence (People)
This is the ability to relate to and understand others. They tend to be communicators and peacemakers. In gaming, interpersonal intelligence is very useful since it allows you to read the others at the table and to put yourself in their shoes as you try to guess what they might do next.

Intrapersonal intelligence (Self)
This is knowledge of the self. Those who excel here tend to have a firm grasp on their own strengths and weaknesses. They are another group which may have difficulty finding specific games, although they are most likely to be able to pinpoint what it is about specific games they like and dislike.

Naturalist intelligence (Nature)
This one is "newer" than the others. Naturists are born observers and they are able to classify things quickly and easily - for example, naturalist intelligences allows kids to recognize different kinds of dinosaurs. They are good at connecting things they see into groups. This one is harder to follow (at least for me) and thus far I think it's more thematic than mechanical in most games, although it might help with a game like Set.
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OH COOL!! You're the Say No To Grandpa Joe guy!!! That is an AWESOME site...I actually plugged that site last semester in a graduate children's lit class.

Well, here we go. I do believe Gardner's theory of multiple intelligences have relevance in gaming. A lot of games are geared towards children. I do disagree with you somewhat on color relationships and naturalistic intelligence, but that'll be for another time... (BTW, there is a new intelligence: existential; it may be pretty hard to gauge that one.

Thing is, there is some learning in different intelligences with many if not most games. Don't we, as gamers, have to learn to read and deal with our fellow competitors? (Interpersonal). Bluffing is a skill we learn over time (Both inter and intrapersonal, but also mathematics is often involved in bluffing). I could go on, but I have to put groceries away, and I have one more point...

One thing that is being drilled into us at the graduate level is not every theory is right for everyone. A child might not easily fit into one of Gardners intelligences. Don't forget about other theorists such as Renzulli, Felhusen, Yetta Goodmamn, etc.

I would be more than happy to discuss this stuff (if only briefly) any time.

Chat later,

Dave D.
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I had thought about doing a whole site on "heroes from the other side". The problem was that I didn't want to do as much work on the rest of them as I had done on Grandpa Joe. I still get hate mail on that site. It takes one of two forms: either I'm a ratbag for impugning grandpa joe or I'm a wastrel for not spending my time on something useful for humanity.

I agree that you can't really pigeonhole very many people into one kind of intelligence. What we look for is to provide games with different kids so that different kids might have a chance to shine and so my wife can get a better idea of the levels of the different kids in her class.

I'm really not qualified to debate the different theories. My wife has a master's in Educational Technology, but I've only learned the pieces she's shown me. I'm not sure I agree with all of it either since some of it smacks of just creating an intelligence so that everyone has one (like bodily-kinesthetic).

I'll have to look up existential. Thanks for the tip and the feedback.
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Interestingly enough, the multiple-intelligences thing is starting to edge into adult ed too. I'm a fire service nstructor and in the fire service in general, you have two stereotypes: The REALLY GOOD firefighter who'll never get promoted because he can't spell his own name, and the guy who's all books and all thumbs. Unfortunately, in the fire service, people actually seem to believe these stereotypes,and it gets very binary. By starting to use multiple-intelligence theory as a conceptual framework, some of us are trying to break the stereotypes: get some education into the guy who honestly has convinced himself that he's experienced but dumb, and work with the majority to rejoin the concepts of knowledge and physical competence.

Problems come up when people change the wording of their lesson plans a little bit and claim to be innovative. I hate it when good ideas become fad buzzwords.
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mib668 wrote:
I'm not sure I agree with all of it either since some of it smacks of just creating an intelligence so that everyone has one (like bodily-kinesthetic).
All information processing can be subcategorised one way or another. We do actually have different hardwiring optimised for different processing... we have visual processing, auditory processing, labelling (language) processing, etc. ... although they rarely function independantly.

The central nervous system is largely an extension of the wiring in your brain. I think it's valid to say some people process the body kinesthetic information better than others. I can see a dark room in a flash of lightning (visual processing) and walk five steps across it without bumping into anything and directly pick something up off the table (kinesthetic).

It's not just processing the spatial, but it's also creating and knowing the precise effects of one's own motion. Some people can judge exactly where a thrown ball might land, but have no chance of throwing a ball accurately themselves.

I wonder if it's possible to demonstrate (or even have) kinesthetic intelligence without decent spatial ability to go with it.
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I thought Gardner's theory of multiple intelligences was brilliant when I first discovered it. I bought his book and studied all that I could. I also read criticisms of his work.

Notably, it seems that many educational psychologists and psychometricians doubt the existence of multiple intelligences because of one fatal flaw: each of the intelligences tend to correlate highly with one another. This suggests that the Spearman's "g" entity of generalized intelligence (aka, the nemesis of multiple intelligences) is a more accurate representation of what we know of as intelligence. In fact, Gardner's intelligences have been perhaps more properly described as learned "abilities."

When it comes to children's games I tend to wonder how Piaget's stages impact the ability of a child to "get" a game.
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borkman wrote:
Notably, it seems that many educational psychologists and psychometricians doubt the existence of multiple intelligences because of one fatal flaw: each of the intelligences tend to correlate highly with one another.

I've read the same basic criticisms, but I find them odd because they seem to be arguing apples to Gardner's oranges.

The thing about Gardner's intelligences is that he doesn't use the word "intelligence" the way either ordinary people or psychologists use it. Most people think of "intelligence" as a measure of some innate mental ability. Or in other words, it's how well the various processing centres in our brains are wired.

But for Gardner, an "intelligence" is a type of mental ability that is valued by others. He doesn't divide them according to how our brain works, but rather how our society works.

Needless to say, since he's coming at the issue from a completely different perspective, I find it odd when he is critiqued because his "intelligences" don't seem to match how our brains are wired. That was never his intention.
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The intelligences may somewhat correlate, but it is a correlation
with a high variance and a high standard deviation - Gardner's
book addresses this with his criteria for what determines the
categories. Would you say a musical savant's musical intelligence
was similar to their interpersonal intelligence? No. Also, if you
look at people with brain injuries/lesions, you can see people
who have deficits in one of Gardner's intelligences while the other
categories remain intact. Both of these example categories indicate
that in at least some meaningful way, the intelligences are NOT
simply learned abilities.

That said, the intelligences a person is "born" with are simply
general tendencies and strentghs which schools, parents, our culture
tend to develop - a kid who likes counting a lot early in life will
be encouraged more while doing math, etc. So of course you will find
people who learn abilities and improve some of their weaker
intelligences. People with more motivation, better resources,
more educated parents, and so on, will be more likely to have
improved abilities across the board. I think Gardner indicates this
in his book - that the categories are general trends in the "average"
population, not rules.

Chris Senhouse
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I don't see how playing games can improve intelligence of any kind. Games are repetitive in their play, brief, and lack the intensity required for improvements of practical skills. If an individual plays a game often, they will only get better at playing the game. If you want to excercise Linguistic skills, read books often and engage in conversations, or learn a new language. I think it is somewhat misleading to assume that games can excercise or enhance any intelligence. As stated before, they just aren't intense activities.
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I think that you're partly right in that you will get better at the game faster than you will get better at the skill, but I'm not sure it matters.
The idea of using games is to get another way to "sneak" in a lesson. Kids who are playing Poison don't immediately realize they are doing a lot of addition. This chance to practice the skill is valuable, kind of like flash cards except the kids will do them on their own.

Likewise, by using games that embrace different intelligences you can help kids to understand that there is more than one way to be smart. By giving different groups a chance at different games you allow the kids to see that there are games where someone can win that they didn't expect.
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mib668 wrote:
I think that you're partly right in that you will get better at the game faster than you will get better at the skill, but I'm not sure it matters.
The idea of using games is to get another way to "sneak" in a lesson. Kids who are playing Poison don't immediately realize they are doing a lot of addition. This chance to practice the skill is valuable, kind of like flash cards except the kids will do them on their own.

Likewise, by using games that embrace different intelligences you can help kids to understand that there is more than one way to be smart. By giving different groups a chance at different games you allow the kids to see that there are games where someone can win that they didn't expect.


The problem is that this application of addition is far too brief to have any long term benefits. They would be better off doing several sets of varied addition problems daily rather than playing a game like Poison. The intensity of the activity is just too weak to be of any long term benefit.

Flash cards do not teach addition. The repetitive cards just causes individuals to memorize the answer to the cards rather than to calculate the solution. This is one major problem of math games like 24 where the repetitive and non-random cards are eventually memorized.
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aristotle73 wrote:
mib668 wrote:
I think that you're partly right in that you will get better at the game faster than you will get better at the skill, but I'm not sure it matters.
The idea of using games is to get another way to "sneak" in a lesson. Kids who are playing Poison don't immediately realize they are doing a lot of addition. This chance to practice the skill is valuable, kind of like flash cards except the kids will do them on their own.

Likewise, by using games that embrace different intelligences you can help kids to understand that there is more than one way to be smart. By giving different groups a chance at different games you allow the kids to see that there are games where someone can win that they didn't expect.


The problem is that this application of addition is far too brief to have any long term benefits. They would be better off doing several sets of varied addition problems daily rather than playing a game like Poison. The intensity of the activity is just too weak to be of any long term benefit.

Flash cards do not teach addition. The repetitive cards just causes individuals to memorize the answer to the cards rather than to calculate the solution. This is one major problem of math games like 24 where the repetitive and non-random cards are eventually memorized.


Intelligence is really difficult to determine. It's a really fuzzy concept. I think that the intension of games varies a lot. It's nonsense to claim that playing a game like Chess doesn't have affect to your intelligence. I would really like to see a comprehensive study that confirms that playing games has no lasting effect to your intelligence. Recently Pisa-test showed that Finnish children excel in mathematics and linguistic skills. And Finnish children have a lot of spare time playing games and such. I think that the amount of actual academic study is a lot less than the average in the OECD countries. Children learn through play. Everyone who disagrees is an utter moron in my humble opinion.

I find the multiple intelligences approach really fascinating. And totally support mib's view that all kind of abilities should be cherished in school. Not just academic skills. Teacher's should get rid of the attitude that if some child is better than the rest at some point that he's intelligent. As I see it intelligence is the potential that exists in all people, especially in children. As a child I enjoyed math a lot. But I made it an adventure in my head. I remember that I saw positive numbers as good guys and negative numbers as bad guys. They were having constant battles, but in the primary school the "good guys" always won. Mathematics is a game and it should be tought as such. In classrooms it's usually a multiplayer solitaire, but I don't see any problem in using interactive games to study math. Or something else.
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Have you heard of the book "Please Understand Me 2"? It's a great book about particular temperaments, not just different intelligence. I think it is useful looked at from what people do in life, whereas multiple intelligence theory is good for what you are studying (about how people play board games). But I think it can be applied to the "Please Understand Me 2" system (it's called the "Keirsey" system, after the man who wrote the book).

For example, "logical/mathematical intelligence" and "spatial intelligence" could be put into one temperament (which would be Keirsey's INTP, nicknamed the "Architect"). There are four temperament groups, which have four individual temperaments within each one. The "NT" group (nicknamed "Rationals") are generally good at logic and strategy (I am an "NT" myself, more precisely "ENTP"). The others have other intelligences, such as "tactics", "logistics", and "diplomacy". It is all very interesting.

Please check it out!!! www.keisey.com

(What's YOUR temperament? sauron )
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My type is INFP or idealist healer. Having a diplomatic nature makes it easy to see why I love Diplomacy.
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I didn't know anybody knew about the keirsey system on BGG other than me!!! Isn't it a great way to understand other people?

As for me, I like abstract games (or don't care if they have theme or not), which fits in with the ENTP Inventor's way of looking at things.

And I am actually an inventor of board games. Fitting, isn't it?
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This is an interesting project. You should create GeekLists for each intelligence. For example, I'm curious whether you have reviewed any games with intrapersonal intelligence?
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