In this issue, other members of the group of educators working with GAMA introduce themselves. Feel free to contact any of them directly, if they can address you better. We range from elementary school through university, and we have different experience with published games. This group has never actually met in its entirety, for we are all over North America. If you see a gap that you can fill, please get in touch with me. I am especially interested in hearing more from parents and also teachers of younger students.
Also in this issue, we will begin to present reviews of games used in classrooms, especially those donated by companies. We are limited to our class budgets and our own resources for games, so if you are a publisher interested in our feedback, send us a copy (or, heck, lots of copies). We get these into the the hands of those who can use and review them, and we'll be sure to let you know what we think. More on this follows. If you are a teacher interested in reviewing games, let us know.
Finally, my students and I had a chance this February to playtest White Wolf's upcoming roleplaying game version of the popular and controversial video game, Streetfighter. It was a rich and enjoyable experience. Sam Chupp of White Wolf Studios and I will both give you our impressions of the experience.
Please, note the new mailing address. The old one - at 991-A Adair Avenue - is still accurate as of this writing, but it will not remain so.
Enough administrivia! I want to explore the relationships between traditional class activities and the increasingly diverse game products on the market today....
Teachers have been using games in their classes for millennia, for as long as there have been teachers. Simulations, re-enactments, roleplays, military games, and the like have always been valued tools in many teachers' bag of tricks.
Much of the richness of these tools has been lost in the modern classroom. State teacher education programs rarely encourage the creativity necessary for quality teaching through games and other equally powerful techniques. Teachers often find themselves in schools that have been leveled to the lowest common denominator, babysitting students until they can graduate. Traditional published games and simulations cater to this diluted, simplified environment.
Many teachers do lead exciting classrooms, but individual innovation or even variance requires constant effort. We hope that this newsletter will support teachers, parents, publishers, and students.
One way to open up the modern diversity of published games, still mostly locked in the entertainment field, is to point out their similarities with what has already gone before:
We are limited only by our imagination.
I introduced myself in the last issue, so here are the others:
Martin C. Campion is a professor of history at Pittsburg State University in Pittsburg, Kansas, where he teaches various military history courses in which he uses hobby wargames which he modifies as needed to make them usable in an educational setting. From 1969 to 1980, he also did quite a bit of writing about military history, wargames, and their educational use in Strategy & Tactics, Moves, and in Robert Horn and Anne Cleaves (eds), The Guide to Simulations and Games for Education and Training (4th ed., 1980).
Since 1980, he has been designing history games on or moderated by computers. He designed RAILS WEST! (Strategic Simulations, Inc.,1984), MEDIEVAL LORDS (SSI, 1990), MASTERS AND SLAVES (Perspicacity Software, 1991), and, with James B. M Schick, JAMES TOWNE IN VIRGINIA (Perspicacity, 1991). Although the first two of these were sold by the publisher as hobby games they were originally designed as classroom games. M & S is purely a classroom game, while JT is a single player game suitable for an outside assignment.
Martin is active in the North American Simulation and Gaming Association (NASAGA), an organization of gamers in education and training whose main activity is to produce a convention every year generally in mid-October.
Pittsburg State University, Pittsburg, KS 66762
(316) 231-7000 Ext. 4313
G. Bruce McFarlane was born in Montreal and grew up in Ottawa, Ontario. He received his B.A. at Trent University and completed a B.Ed at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario. After two years working as a social worker, he took a teaching position with the County of Parkland in Alberta, just west of Edmonton. Bruce has been with the Parkland board for 15 years, starting at the junior high school level in Social Studies, English, and Drama. For the last 10 years, however, he has been in the Social Studies Department at Memorial Composite High School in Stony Plain, Alberta. He has served on many provincial committees for generating, implementing, and evaluating curricula.
Bruce has been designing games since he was a child, when a die and the back of a cereal box were the only materials necessary. He was active in the Queen's University Gaming Club and founded and in 1982 was first president of the Edmonton Table-Top Generals.
In 1985 Bruce began a fruitful relationship with the Canadian Wargamers Group. He soon became an associate editor of the "The Canadian Wargamers Journal" and a full business partner. He first published Habitant and Highlanders - a miniatures guide to the Seven Year's War in North America, CWG's first miniatures booklet. Recently, CWG published Flower of Chivalry, a similar package devoted to the late Middle Ages. In addition he developed Breakaway Hockey for the Avalon Hill Game Company, but franchising difficulties with the National Hockey League prevented publication. Bruce has several upcoming publications, covering the War of 1812 and World War Two. His articles have also appeared in "The Courier," "The Mid-West Wargamers' Association Journal," "The Seven Years War Association Journal," and "Potomac Wargamers Review."
Bruce now lives in Spruce Grove, west of Edmonton, Alberta with his wife, Debbie, and two children.
6 Goebel Drive, Spruce Grove, Alberta
Canada T7X 2A4
Marvin Scott currently teaches World Studies, Western Civilization, and Economics at Ames High School in Ames, Iowa. During his 26 years at Ames High, he has also taught U.S. History, U.S. Government, World Communism, and World Issues, as well as being debate coach and sponsor of the Model United Nations delegation.
Marvin has been interested in games for teaching since his student teaching days. In 1958, he ran a parliamentary debate for the students of the Iowa Braille and Sightsaving School. In the 1960s there was the "game explosion" in teaching social studies that reinforced his interests. Sometimes in the 1970s, he got a copy of Peter Young's The Wargame and discovered battle gaming. He is a member of the Solo Wargamers Association and a contributor to "Lone Warrior." He is also a member of the Midwest Wargamers Association and the Experimental Game Group. He has a particular interest in the history of wargames and World War II aerial wargames.
Marvin has published two books on games and teaching, Games and Strategies for Teaching U.S. History and Games for Teaching World History. He is marking time until his grandson is old enough to play with him.
909 Furman Drive, Ames, IA 50010
(515) 233-1849 home
(515) 232-8440 work
William Speer is 43 years old and has been teaching U.S. history for 22 years. He graduated from Pennsylvania Military College in 1972 and taught in Pennsylvania for five years. He then moved to Houston, where he has lived for the last 17 years. William attended graduate school at West Chester State University and the University of Houston.
William has been a wargamer since he was 13. Along with Scott Duncan and Gary Gygax, he founded the International Federation of Wargaming in the late 60s. William uses role-plays and simulations extensively in his classroom. He has designed numerous games for his class and has modified commercial games for classroom use.
His passions are bass fishing, gaming, and computers.
3511 Covey Trail, Missouri City, TX 77459
(713) 499-0298 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Again, please feel free to contact any of us with ideas, questions, offers, insights, wild schemes, and so forth. Our group exists to increase communication. We are all learning.
On a final note (for now), the University of Georgia in Athens, GA has invited David as a guest for a conference on simulations and games in May.
We hope this column, however, will be initial comments on games. We are developing an annotated bibliography of games as a resource for teachers. We also plan to give more extensive and direct comments to publishers, writers, editors, and artists. If you have a review, please send it in. If not, it's time to write one!
First, I want to thank the following companies for their donations: Chaosium's Pendragon and Call of Cthulhu, Four Star Publishing's The Great AMERICA Board Game, Marquee Press' Lost Souls, Palladium's Valley of the Pharaohs, R. Talsorian's Cybergeneration, and Vernon Paul Rood's Distant Seas. All of these are now in classrooms, and we should have reviews of them, as appropriate, for the summer and autumn issues.
Call of Cthulhu (Chaosium), another role play, offers a grim, literary insight into the late 19th and early 20th century. Many of Chaosium's historical reference materials for the game epitomize the gold mine of material available in this entertainment industry. David has used this game in his class of 5th and 6th graders. Everyone loves a good ghost story.
D-Day and Midway are both part of Avalon Hill's Smithsonian Series of introd uctory historical war games. David has used them with 5th and 6th graders with great success. Younger students require more guidance, but these games are a wonderful chance for junior high and older students to play generals!
Sam Chupp joined us in this planning and proposed that my students might also get involved in the development of their newly licensed role play version of the controversial video game Streetfighter. My students fit their target market. We would be able to be a part of professional game development and publishing! And the possible controversy surrounding the game was one known and meaningful for 11 year olds. Curriculum possibilities and "teachable moments" were multiplying rapidly.
The field trip went off as planned one afternoon in January. Sam met with half of the group to discuss publishing in general and the development of Streetfighter in particular. Everyone asked good questions. The other half toured the studio, meeting writers, editors, and artists in their natural environment. We even wandered the warehouse and their BBS center. Then we all switched groups.
We returned to school with draft copies of Streetfighter. I looked them over for playability at our level and for appropriateness (considering the macabre nature of some of White Wolf's games), then gave them to 6 eleven year olds experienced in gaming, though two had never run a game before. They read rules while everyone else developed character ideas: She-Ra, Bruce Lee, The Shadow. Many took animal companions, ranging from ferrets to a lion. The actual formal character creation was rich with ideas and took about an hour in groups of five.
We played the introductory scenario, "High Stakes," in two one and a half hour blocks. Six different groups had six different styles. Overall the game has the feel of a superhero comic book game, but from that they varied widely. Michael used the detailed martial arts rules, while Elizabeth and Dave were more free form. No one survived Lindsay's game, but Patricks's players outwitted the bad guys and lived happily ever after.
Throughout this, my students were generating mountains of questions and feedback for White Wolf.
They stretched the system to see what it could do. They challenged the character creation system. They loved the background for the world of Streetfighter, and they wanted more. The Storytellers in particular went through the rules with a fine-toothed comb, revealing everything from typos to a missing map, from contradictions in character creation to unclear language and examples. I don't mean to be critical of White Wolf; this is what they want! Everyone completed a standard playtest form, and the Storytellers met with the game's developers.
My students will all be named in the credits of the final publication, due out in June, and each will receive a copy of the game. We had fun!
by Sam Chupp
When I first met and spoke with David about his class becoming involved with White Wolf, I was a little surprised that a teacher was actually interested in exposing his children to our company, especially with the dark themes of our games. It turned out to be a fortuitous event, however, a "happy accident," that we were just gearing up to playtest our newest roleplaying game, Street Fighter.
And we actually had a lot to offer the children: as I sat and talked with David I realized that, if nothing else, we were all people who were following our own dreams, dreams with a magical quality that just might touch one of his students.
It was exciting to have the children come in and file through the office - there's a lot of stuff here that is neat to look at - and to talk with them, knowing perhaps that one of them might eventually end up becoming a writer and following his or her own dream. I saw myself in some of the children's eyes. When I was their age I was a dreamer as well.
Having David's class playtest Street Fighter reaffirmed my belief that here would be a game that would drag children away from their TV sets and their 16-bit graphics and put them straight into a virtual reality created by their own imaginations.
I would encourage any roleplaying game company to work closely with teachers and classes, to spread the dreams around. An hour today could end up inspiring an entire career tomorrow.
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