Friday, August 31, 2012

In Which The Warlock Contemplates a Class Change...

One of the neatest things about my real-life day-job is the amount of carryover between being a good GM and being a good teacher.  Believe it or not, the best practices that one carries behind the GM screen often are the same best practices advocated within a classroom setting.  Engagement, active description, differentiation, and varied methodology are all buzzwords that frequently flit about the classroom, but they similarly have a great degree of importance at the game table as well.

As such, game design and game management theory have become a fairly regular part of my curriculum, in terms of addressing macro-educational concepts.

Case in point:  my early days of teaching, at a local charter school.  Paired with an experienced social studies teacher, we often crossed over Risk and Monopoly games to demonstrate the relationship between economics and military strategy.  Students arrange into teams, which must co-ordinate their efforts between both boards, in the hopes to take over a certain set of territories.

You want a GMing challenge?
Try running this for a classroom of ADHD students!
It's at that same school that I experienced the ultimate challenging in GameMastery.  You see, that charter school focused specifically in educating students with ADHD and Asperger's Syndrome, with the majority of the population having multiple diagnoses.  However, as an experiential introduction to a science-fiction unit, I decided to run a simplified session of Paranoia for those students.  And, let me tell you:  there is NO greater challenge in GMing than running game for 16 ADHD teenagers.

However, the challenge of keeping all 16 students engaged and interested, coupled with the greater conceptual goal of addressing paranoia and fear of the "other" as a literary concept, made for a great lesson plan, which students were able to expand upon through essays and a larger assessment project.  I did something similar with a homemade game I called "Grail Quest"--no relation to the actual game-book series--in which students emulated roving bands of knights hoping to find various Arthurian relics, including the eponymous Holy Grail.

An ancient gameboard...
...but one perfect for The Crusades!
This all lead to today, wherein I got to use a game that I've been aching to pull out in a classroom setting:  Risk: Godstorm.  Using the board from Godstorm, groups of my seniors attempted to retake the Holy Land, following the Crusader rhetoric of Pope Urban II.  The activity ran fast and furious, with alliances taking shape over both ideological and political lines--precisely what I was hoping for!  The game ran smoothly, even though time limited us to a 30 minute rushed version of the rules.

As I've been working on expanding The Pendulum Method--y'know, when I'm not teaching, gaming, writing on Cold Steel Wardens, or doing any number of other multitasking--I've been looking seriously at including an essay on this very topic:  the use of educational theory in gamemastery.  Should be fun, children! I'm hoping for it to be out this year or next!

Oh, and this weekend?  We wrap up "The Flood"!  Water's gonna rise, children!

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