The World According to Edu-LARPs

The World According to Edu-LARPs: The analog learning games
Sande Chen
Re-Posted from: Games & Learning

Excerpt from this article:

LARPing It Up
Any adult who has been through a mock interview can tell you about the benefits of role-play and simulation. Universities have been using role-play and simulators for years in the fields of healthcare, business, science, and social policy. Former teacher Peter Shea, now director of Professional Development at Middlesex Community College in Massachusetts, recalls one incident in which a student doctor was weeping after she had killed off her virtual patient.

Adults, in general, understand the value of role-play for professional development, but may not see how the imaginative play of LARPs helps education. Call it a historical re-enactment and it sounds educational, but that wouldn’t fully describe larping since players affect the story of the game. They are not just hearing about or re-enacting a story, but are a part of the story.

Like improvisational theatre combined with the game mechanics of tabletop RPGs, LARPs have systems for character progression through the narrated story. In Archer’s edu-larp on the Industrial Revolution, there are experience points (XP) given for various activities and yet, winning may not be about gaining the most XP. Winning might be in co-authoring an extremely satisfying story regardless of whether or not the player’s character dies or amasses the most wealth in the game.

Archer’s company, Iocari Games, recently branched into developing curriculum-compatible edu-larps for schools in addition to its after-school programs and summer camps. The after-school program relies heavily on tabletop RPGs with familiar gaming systems like Dungeons & Dragons but with original content. The summer camp combines engineering, physical activity, tabletop RPGs, and larping by allowing the kids to play out their created characters. For example, in one summer session, he did a Star Wars themed week where the kids got to manufacture foam light sabers using parts from Home Depot.

Archer anticipates the need for professional development and maybe a digital/analog solution. Teachers would use the digital portion for analytics and to track student progress. All his edu-larps comply with Common Core standards and he understands the need to mesh with curriculum. In some cases, the subject matter, particularly math and science, may lend itself easily to both edu-larping and more traditional learning methods. For example, a chemistry-oriented edu-larp could naturally flow into lab sessions. He can envision situations whereby a school would want Iocari Games to come in and run the edu-larps or alternatively, the school might want to train teachers to run the games themselves. The development costs for this digital/analog hybrid might end up similar to the ones for digital games in “The Real State of Learning Game Funding.” [LINK to Article 2] but in general, development costs for edu-larps tend to be lower.
For full article link HERE



Game Changers: exploring games for expression and learning

From the gamify site:
The GameChangers programme focuses on the design and implementation of playful learning experiences, promoting the emergence of a more playful, exploratory, creative culture in everyday academic contexts. We are a team of game designers, researchers, academics, and media producers. We work together to produce and facilitate playful experiences in Higher Education. We aim to demystify the game development process using design-led techniques to give people the skills and confidence to create their own games.  We’re constantly developing games and playful experiences for Higher Education. Current projects include computer games, paper-based games, board games, card games, interactive fiction, escape rooms and alternative reality games.

Alliance Mega Game with 60+ Participants

The game is a combination of board games, live action social games, John Hunter’s World Peace Game, UK Megagame Maker’s Watch the skies, and includes some board game mechanics from Settlers of Catan, Archipelago, Risk, D & D, and a unique battle mechanics system.

Why Are Learning Games Not in the Cards?

By Christoper B. Allen

Re-posted from Games & Learning

It may be a digital download world for many, but more and more 21st-century gamers are breaking out decks of cards to play hybrid digital card games.

With roughly 30 million registered users in its first year of release, Blizzard Entertainment’s Collectible Card Game (CCG) Hearthstone has attracted more than twice as many players its aesthetic forbearer and longstanding revenue juggernaut World of Warcraft, which at its 2010 peak boasted about 12 million users.

Turns out people really love colorful cards with goblins, demons and gnomes and spells, and smashing them into each other on a beautifully animated, interactive digital game board online for free.

Click HERE for remainder of article at Games & Learning


Civic Mirror: Simulated Nation Building for Middle Schoolers

kaio-simulated-national-building-civicmirrorOriginally posted on edutopia by  Aaronkaio

When I was in middle school, I had a U.S. history class that I can remember almost nothing about. The only thing I recall was that during a really exciting jeopardy game, the teacher asked me about a French word somehow connected to fur trappers during the colonization of North America, and I didn’t recall ever seeing it in the book. Honestly, that is the only thing I remember. Oh wait, I also remember that we took a lot of true and false quizzes.

When I became a teacher, I knew that I wanted my classes to be different.

Enter the political/economic country simulation called Civic Mirror. I first heard about Civic Mirror six years ago when a colleague tried it out. He said the kids were wildly excited about it and were learning like they had never learned before. I didn’t get a chance to use it until two years later, and I had similar results. This year I was able to introduce it in my sixth/seventh grade U.S. history class. I wonder why everyone doesn’t do it.

This is My Country

In the Civic Mirror, students become citizens of a new country that they set up and create for themselves. The simulated country runs through a website managed by Reagan Ross, the project’s creator. Once in the country (represented by a 36-hexagon map), students are able buy property, run businesses, participate in a government, develop resources and industries, and really anything else they can imagine.

The way I introduced students to the Civic Mirror this year was to put them through the normal colonization and revolution units that most U.S. history classes have, while letting them know that, in the same ways that the U.S. became a country, they would become a country within the class, and deal with many of the same problems that a real country would face.

To prepare for the simulation, students studied the Mayflower Compact and the Declaration of Independence, some of the foundational documents of our country. This continued with a look at the United States’ legal rulebook, the Constitution, which would be our rulebook as well. Then we chose a name, a national flower, different cultures and a national slogan. Although some of these are kind of weird in my opinion (Volcanoville, vampires, zombies, “Never back down from a fight”), to the kids they are relevant — they own these ideas.

Continue full original article at edutopia

Using the Game “Diplomacy” in the Classroom

This is an “article” about a teacher’s use of the boardgame “Diplomacy” in his 12th grade humanities classroom (who had just read Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War and Machiavelli’s “The Prince”).  I ran across this “article” awhile back when I was searching for examples of the use of existing games that have been used to teach topics in a real classroom.  I put quotes around the word “article” here because the work is not a published article but appeared in the form of a very long post on the “Boardgame Geek” forum.  As such there is no indication of the real name of this person or where his school is located.  In the opening paragraphs of his post he identifies himself as a teacher and states the following:

“This is written by a teacher, about a teacher’s experience using the game in the classroom, for an audience who is either interested in general in the world’s best game, or for teachers who are looking toward using gaming to enrich their instruction.”

diplomacyteacherThe poster (Calavera Despierta) includes great detail and photographs of his efforts to teach his students the game and apply it to the lesson he his hoping to teach them. He also goes to great lengths to analyze and give a detail debrief of his success.  I find the narrative fascinating and all the more so when one reads that this brave teacher actually did this simultaneously in four of his classes.

Calavara address many concerns that I have seen in other published accounts about using games in the classroom such as:

  • The time it takes to teach the game and the use of class time to do so as well as play the game.
  • Dealing with students who don’t “get into it” or just are non-participatory
  • Running simultaneous games
  • Gender issues with girls maybe not being as involved as boys (especially in war themed games)
  • The pitfalls of competition and (especially in this game) the pitfalls of Machiavellian behavior in the game that may carry out of the game.
  • How to actually make the game meaningful and apply it to the topic being taught.

Calavara does a good job explaining in detail how he deployed the game and how he attempted to address these issues.  I wish he had (or will) think about publishing his reflections on his experience.  In the meantime I highly recommend reading his post here:

Diplomacy in the Classroom: A  Massive Report

And then read his follow-up post about some of the written reflections of his students after experiencing the game in his classroom here:

Diplomacy in the Classroom: Part 2: Kids in their own words


Down the Rabbit Hole: How To Turn Your Class into an Alternate Reality Game

Re-posted from Ludic Learning : By Paul Darvasi

the_rabbit_hole_by_blargofdoom-d6i6w0pAre you Ready to Ascend to Epic Awesomeness?

Have you lost sleep wondering how to turn your class into the most epic adventure of all time? Can you imagine your students climbing over each others backs to get to your class and collectively groaning when it’s over? If you think you’re ready to ascend to a whole new level of awesomeness, brace yourself. Today begins your initiation to learn the ancient and jealously guarded secret of how to turn your class into an alternate reality game (ARG for short). You’ve never heard of alternate reality games, or you’re not quite sure what they’re all about? Leave your doubts and hesitations at the door and enter – all will be explained and the path will become clear(-ish). All mysteries will be demystified, and all secrets will be, well, unsecreted.

An Alternate Reality Collaboration


This tale begins two years ago, when John Fallon and I met at the Games in Education Symposium in Upstate New York, where we were presenting on the ARGs we’d designed for our classes. We quickly discovered a shared appreciation for games, books and secret societies and forged an instant friendship. It wasn’t long before talks turned to designing a game to be played between our two schools. Undaunted by the international border that separated us, we Skyped, Googled, Facetimed, Facebooked, Instagrammed, Tweeted and Retweeted, until Blind Protocol was born. What ensued was an immersive 30-day game that pit our two classes in the US and Canada in a mock-cyberwarfare simulation. By the time it was over, our students were well versed in the pitfalls of privacy, surveillance and online security. And they had fun. Yes, fun. Yes, in school.

This past summer, we were lucky enough to present on our work at the International Boys School Conference (IBSC) in Cape Town, South Africa and the Games in Education Symposium (GIE) in Albany, NY. One of the many promises that were made to the session participants was that we would publish a one-stop-shop resource to help ease them down the ARG rabbit hole. So here you have it – the recipe to channel the transformative power that will let you run your class as an immersive alternate reality game.

This first post will ground you in an overview of ARGs and their uses in education, and the next post will provide all the resources you need to get started.

Continue the complete blog post by Paul Darvasi HERE.

Center for Games & Learning

CGL_Logo_Web2Site: Center for Games and Learning: text from the site

The Center for Games & Learning at MNU’s Mabee Library sponsors game design and game research for use in educational settings.

Effective learning for 21st century leadership demands expertise in skills such as communication, collaboration, problem solving, flexibility, creativity, and innovation.  Tabletop games can function as powerful learning engines, requiring players to practice these 21st century skills.

As educators learn how to use—and even design—games as learning systems, they engage learners with cultural relevance.  To this end, the Center for Games & Learning at MNU:

  • Curates an extensive game collection
  • Disseminates cutting-edge research on games and learning
  • Help educators adapt games for educational purposes
  • Seeks renewal within P-12, homeschool, and post-secondary classrooms
  • Trains librarians seeking to support their communities through gameplay

While you are here, please explore our up-to-date interactive games collection list.

We believe that today’s learners want to explore new ideas socially and playfully. And if you agree, then please let us know! We are always looking for conversation partners who share our interest in game design for learning. When time allows, please come by the MNU Mabee Library in person to check out our game collection, to meet up with other educators or game designers, or just to try out a new game with friends!

Link to site: Center for Games & Learning

Reacting to the Past

ReactingtothePastFrom the Site @ Banard
“Reacting was completely unique in my college experience…. The words of Gandhi, Socrates, and other historical figures became mine, transcending the academic distance to which I had grown accustomed… Their thoughts, their histories, their biographies are real and alive in my mind.”
—Amanda Houle, Barnard College alumna

Reacting to the Past (RTTP) consists of elaborate games, set in the past, in which students are assigned roles informed by classic texts in the history of ideas. Class sessions are run entirely by students; instructors advise and guide students and grade their oral and written work. It seeks to draw students into the past, promote engagement with big ideas, and improve intellectual and academic skills. Reacting to the Past was honored with the 2004 Theodore Hesburgh Award (TIAA-CREF) for outstanding innovation in higher education.

Pioneered by historian Mark C. Carnes, Reacting to the Past (RTTP) has been implemented at over 300 colleges and universities in the U.S. and abroad. The initiative is sustained by the Reacting Consortium, an alliance of colleges and universities that promotes imagination, inquiry, and engagement as foundational features of teaching and learning in higher education. The Consortium provides programs for faculty development and curricular change, including a regular series of conferences and workshops, online instructor resources, and consulting services.


This text is taken directly from the Reacting to the Past site at Barnard College

An Alternate Reality Online Class

Re-posted from Center for Game & Simulation Based Learning
Posted in
Blog, Featured By David Seelow, PhD. On February 17, 2016

This past Fall I taught one of the first ever, if not the very first, 100% online class as an Alternate Reality Game (ARG). As a pilot, the course ended a solid success and I am revising it for the summer session. Secrets: A Cyberculture Mystery Game is an upper level Humanities course that focuses on the rise of cyberculture and its impact on changing ideas of personal identity. The game was designed by my trusted colleague, Lee Sheldon, an expert game designer and Professor – at the time from nearby Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), and now somewThe Collective Logohat further away at Worchester Polytechnic Institute (WPI). The game/course illustrates the principles outlined in Lee’s path-breaking book The Multiplayer Classroom: Designing Coursework as a Game (Cengage, 2012). Secrets is not gamification. It is a game.

The heart of the game is a science fiction mystery story about the Internet that starts with Professor Grey (that’s me or whomever teaches the course) being contacted from the future (the rabbit hole of an ARG) by an organization called The Collective. As the story unfolds, The Collective promotes a new belief in “primal empathy,” a utopian form of bioengineering. They are opposed by a freedom fighting resistance group or counter force called Fortress Nine. As the course progresses a humanitarian group, The CareHart Foundation, comes into play and later a more nefarious corporate entity called Chromogen. The unfolding layers of mystery keep the students engaged and motivated in striving to solve the mystery. They also identify with the characters and the ideas these characters represent. Videos convey the story to the players/students. The characters are played by amateur actors just as I play the role of Professor Grey. I created a fictional bio and Facebook page for the professor. Each episode’s class forum or discussion board requires players/students to respond to the story’s events.

The course makes use of an ARG’s key elements beginning with the rabbit hole mentioned above. Each organization has their own fictional website (requires a domain purchase and IT help) and email contacts so that players/students can contact the organization directly and those emails get routed to my game center email. When I respond to the player/student, I respond as if from that organization maintaining the illusion of the 4th wall. Drama includes the course (a Blackboard site) being hacked (when players/students log in that day their grades have disappeared and assignments are scrambled), a riddle solved by the class, and a final arrest! …….

Read the rest at: Center for Simulation & Game Based Learning