We have been advertised in several gaming magazines, for which we are very appreciative. Several dozen people have as a result joined our group. In any way you have available, spread word of our efforts.
Please, note David's e-mail address as given in the banner.
This issue is chock full of good stuff. David reviews the games and activities he has enjoyed in his classroom this year. Bruce and Marvin describe some of their approaches to using wargames in their classrooms. We have some more reviews and comments on published materials. Many of you have written with exciting ideas, and we decided to include several of these comments and projects in these pages. Enjoy!
The summer conventions are already here. Be on the lookout for other people who might be interested in our work. Let them know how to contact us. David will be at Dragon Con in Atlanta and at Gen Con in Milwaukee. At both conventions he will be leading seminars: Gaming & Young People, Gaming & Education, and Gaming & Prejudice. The first explores developmental issues as they affect games. The second focuses most closely on the topics explored in this newsletter. The last examines how real world issues of gender, race, and age leak into our games and how this should be addressed. If you are at any of these gatherings, please join us with your thoughts.
If anyone is offering activities of interest, please let us know so that we can spread the word. We also need to hear about conferences and meetings of possible interest to others. This communication enriches everyone!
David's announced workshop at the University of Georgia never occurred. We never heard back from the organizers. If anyone knows the location of Sean Patrick Fannon or any other UGA gamers, please put them in contact with us.
There are several other publications which may interest some of you:
The CAR-PGa Newsletter is published by the Committee for the Advancement of Role-Playing Games. Originally founded to address attacks on gamers, gaming, and the hobby, it has evolved into a more general support organization, promoting a variety of projects, including our own. You can reach Paul Cardwell, Jr., the chairman of the group, at 1127 Cedar, Bonham, TX 75418. Membership in the group is free (though supporting work is expected), and subscriptions to the newsletter are $7.50 ($12.00 overseas).
Inter*action is a new publication out of Britain. It explores gaming as a serious pursuit, while remaining aware of its inherently playful nature. Articles in the first issue attempt to define different types of games and styles of gaming, seek links with other forms of entertainment and study, organize the short but rich history of published games, and imagines the games of the future. It is fascinating reading at many levels and accessible to anyone. Subscriptions (quarterly) are $40 or =A320 and can be sought at 29a Abbeville Road, London SW4 9LA, Great Britain.
Pallas Podium is an APA (Amateur Press Association) published by Clarissa =46owler and White Rose. It is a forum for discussing issues about and facin= g women and girls in gaming. It is open to all. Contact Clarissa at P.O. Box 933, Amherst, MA 01004-0933.
Simulation & Gaming is a professional publication of the Association of Business Simulation and Experiential Learning (ABSEL), the International Simulation and Gaming Association (ISAGA), the Japanese Association of Simulation and Gaming (JASAG), and the North American Simulation and Gaming Association (NASAGA). It is scholarly and rarefied but can be very interesti ng. It is aimed primarily at academics and business or military simulators. If interested ($50), contact Sage Publications, 2455 Teller Road, Thousand Oaks, CA 91320.
If you know of other interesting titles, please let us know!
Framing the entire year was a simulation of my own design in which my students headed a US family, beginning in the year 1900. Families were assigned by a lottery. Some were wealthy business folk, but most were humble crafters, farmers, and factory workers. Different students had different goals, ranging from simply making money to getting a job (any job!) at Yankee Stadium or getting a kid into college. Each year, events and die rolls produced victories and challenges and new family members! My students discussed presidential candidates, responded to economic troubles, participated in rallies and protests, and explored their own history.
In the middle of the century, we played Avalon Hill's Midway and D-Day, and toward the end we had over a month of Supremacy. We played each game several times to explore variants and possibilities. Some of my students strove to overcome the odds that had produced the actual events of history. I settled rule disputes, but the actual strategies and machinations came from them. They liked these games.
I ran three main role-play stories. The first used Chaosium's Call of Cthulhu rules, and the players were Croatian orphans arriving in looming and mysterious New York City just before the Great War. There were hints of the enigmatic and supernatural, but for the most part, the real world was scary enough! The second tale - "Animal Form" - took place during the Great Depression and used Palladium's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Anthropomorphic bears, frogs, skunks, and armadillos find themselves driven off their lands by a CCC project and into a society highly prejudiced against them. Reading aloud from Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath added to the drama. The third story used White Wolf's Mage and Werewolf rules and was called "The Age of Aquarius." As you might expect, it was odd. The players tried to understand the mysterious forces surrounding the first moon landing in 1969. Knowing the real history of the times, the enjoyed the whimsy and paradox.
History and stories! The adventure continues!
Second, the game must be simple. Most of the students won't know what a "movement phase" is, much less a "zone of control" or "quick reference combat resolution chart." Start from the knowledge the students have and build from there. What wargame knowledge do they have? Risk. Build your game around the movement and combat mechanics of Risk.
Finally, the game must work the first time. Most wargamers tolerate a poor first game. They intend to learn from their mistakes, refine their understanding of the rules, and evaluate their performance. If a game shows potential, the gamer will expect to have an entertaining two or three sessions down the road. You do not have this luxury in the classroom. The students are going to play the game once, and it has to playable and historic the first time out. Yes, it must be historical. Remember, the students will remember the game far better than they remember their text book. Unless you want them describing hoe Germany invaded Vancouver to win World War II on their final exam, you had better make sure the game pretty much follows history.
This article was previously published in "The Canadian Wargamers Journal." Bruce has developed several simulations for his classroom.
Sam Chupp arrived in my classroom on the last day of school, bearing an overflowing box of the new Streetfighter game, hot off the press. My students boiled back into the classroom from recess. The listened to Sam's appreciative comments, then eagerly looked for their names in the game's credits. Most had Sam autograph their copies. They're fans!
The game itself looks fun and colorful, full of heroism ad greatly expanded from the video screen version. My students were delighted.
Cary is entertaining almost a dozen of his peers, running the short scenario "High Stakes" at our summer camp. Elizabeth has experimented with converting the rules for use with westerns!
When doing the causes of the war, I used my game 1898. Essentially, this was a simulated meeting of President McKinley and four advisors representing the army, the navy, the Department of State, and a political expert. Each advisor briefed the president, and he or she made a decision. This process took place in groups of five. There would be several such groups in each class.
After running 1898 a few times, it dawned on me that I could also game the early parts of the war. I used one of my classroom maps - a world map. I put some colored markers on the map. I made my markers by cutting a piece of bright colored cardboard into a square about 3/4 inch on a side and putting a loop of masking tape sticky side out on its back. These I used to mark the location of Spanish fleets (red markers) and American markers (blue markers).
I pointed out the Spanish fleet crossing the Atlantic and asked my presidents, "How will you react to this?" I also pointed out Admiral Dewey in Hong Kong and the Spanish fleet in Manila Bay and asked, "What are your orders?" Usually the presidents would send Dewey to Manila. Then I could tell them that the navy had won a great victory.
The Spanish fleet crossing the Atlantic usually made it to Cuba and safely into Santiago Harbor. Then the question was, "What do you do now?" Typically they would move the American fleet to Cuba and often send the army as well. At that point the class would revert to a conventional discussion of the war.
I also had the requirement that students make oral reports. One possibility was that the student fight a wargame replaying a historical battle and report on the battle and wargame. One student chose to refight Manila Bay. One day after school we shoved all the desks off to the side and laid out Manila Bay on the floor. It's about 25 miles wide, so it took up a lot of space. We marked the shore line with string held in place by masking tape. For ships, we used cardboard cut into ship silhouettes. The student commanded Dewey's fleet, while a friend of his played the Spanish commander. In this case, the Spanish were more aggressive, and Dewey lost the battle! Part of the reason for the outcome was the rules.
I selected some rules from Donald Featherstone's Naval Wargames, but I have looked at other rules too, and none makes it likely that the Spanish will shoot as poorly as they really did at Manila Bay. They hit about one in one thousand shots. No matter what the outcome, the game provided my students with the basis for an oral report. He had been pretty reluctant to do oral reports before, so in one sense he won.
Some reviews are only a paragraph, and some go for pages. Don't be shy or withdrawn. Your input is valued and necessary. We want to draw on the largestpool of teachers and gamers and the widest array of games. Thanks for your help!
David received a copy of Bob Albrecht's and Greg Stafford's The Adventurer's Handbook. It provides an introduction to Chaosium's basic roleplaying system and a survey of game, now somewhat out of date. David is running games of Runequest at his summer camp (in preparation for a possible mythology curriculum) and has used this book as the kids' copy of the rules. This skill-based system is quickly learned and broadly applicable to lots of game settings. All of Chaosium's games are based on it, allowing a teacher or student to begin play quickly. This is also possible with such shared-rules games as Steve Jackson's GURPS, the Palladium System, and White Wolf's Storyteller.
For the last 13 years I've been in Asia mostly teaching English. About half my time is spent teaching adults in large classrooms and the other half teaching children in small groups. Currently I am writing teaching materials for both adults and children.
For my purposes, the ideal RPG for teaching English to students with a vocabulary of about 750 words and who have just begun to use English to communicate would have the following characteristics:
Michael A. Butler
c/o Bridge Printing Co.
=46u Hsing South Road, Section 2
[Author unknown, received by e-mail]
Greg Novak, who does some stuff for GDW, mostly Command Decision related, was my history teacher in the 8th or 9th grade and the school librarian around the same time. He introduced me to miniatures, and several boardgames, in part by taking me down to Champaign for the miniatures games there with the U of I group and in part by running a History Club after school in which we played various simulations, some academic, some commercial wargames, some miniatures. It was the best thing I did in junior high and high school. We also did some playtesting, for GDW's En Garde.
The thought of having to game for homework just makes my mouth water.
The GWU Gamer's Society
Return-Path:When I was in school as part of American History class we had an instructor who was very interested in the Civil War, he went through every major battle of that ugly episode in our history. Even with all the commentary he was able to give on this, the ferocity of the conflict never made sense to me. I played Gettysburg in the pre-hex map version shortly after that and it reinforced the senseless and bloody nature of the conflict.
Date: Wed, 20 Apr 1994 00:02:49 -0700
As a result of this, I never had much interest in Civil war games, and when I returned to gaming through science fiction, StarShip Trooper, etc., that lead me to SPI's Strategy and Tactics magazine. One of their published simulations was 1847, Winfield Scott's campaign against Mexico.
1847 gave me the key piece of information I needed to make sense out of the conflict. It described battles of large armies in which after one or two volleys of shots, one of the armies fled the field. Sometimes the Americans fled, sometimes the Mexicans fled. In the course of examining the leader counters for this game, I found almost every major figure in the American Civil War, usually as a Lt. or Captain. These were later to fight on both sides, North and South.
The leaders in the initial engagements, and some of the troops, expected a repeat of the warfare in Mexico, two volleys and you win. Both sides expected this. What occurred was that after two volleys and no sign of a break, the third volley initiated the tragedy because the casualties meant that the losses were guaranteed to bite into both sides in a "personal" way, which changed it from a war into a blood feud with each survivor seeking revenge for a friend or family member. The generals on both sides instead of getting a quick and decisive victory were suddenly holding an enraged tiger by the tail as it sought to completely destroy the source of its anger, they were appalled because warfare had changed its character from what they expected into this new and deadlier form.
What my history teacher couldn't get across to me became quite clear by looking at the warfare which was shown in the SPI simulation.
I also learned an invaluable history lesson about where to look for things that aren't clear as to the root cause, look back to what shaped the leaders of the conflict.
Last school year, a junior English teacher, Mrs. Shannon, approached me about a problem she was having with a student named Scott. Blessed with great creative skills, Scott was lax in completing assignments and was frequently absent from school due to migraine headaches. She knew that one of Scott's interests was D&D; he and some other grade sevens played the game most days at lunchtime. Since she knew that I knew the D&D game, she asked if there might be a way to put the game to some academic use.
At first, I simply sat in as a player in Scott's rather wild and winging it game. Gradually he and I talked and decided that I might try to lend some organization to the game. I became the DM and introduced the boys to my long established campaign in the World of Greyhawk.
Since that time, Scott's attendance has picked up tremendously, and his homework got done with some regularity. He is still a typical teenage boy, but he has shown some growth in responsibility and maturity. I have become the teacher to whom other teachers and his mother come to when they are having a problem with Scott. The rapport we established through the game has helped me to be a positive influence on his behavior most of the time.
Meanwhile, other teachers tell me that some of the other boys in the group have used the adventures to help them write character sketches and create adventures for their English classes. And, since we play most days at lunch time, the boys have some place to go and people who count ontheir being there. There is no attendance problem. I monitor about fourteen boys in two gaming groups at the present time.
If I am ever assigned junior English again, I will do a section of fantasy literature and character sketches and development based on the rules of the AD&D game. I think it would also be a positive influence on behavior.
Joseph A. Hackett
2505 Cote Vertu
St. Laurent, Quebec
Canada H4R 1P3
I elected to re-fight the first major battle of the war, Manassas. The actual commanders on both sides were as inexperienced as Greg's student commanders, and the battle was fairly straightforward. Greg selected the school library for the site, and we set up a game area about twelve by six feet.
Each student received on brigade and one battery. Two brigades made a division for the north, and one of the brigade commanders was designated division commander. On the south side, three brigades were a division. We were using Fire and Fury rules, so the students got a brief run through the rules and then split into their two sides.
The overall commanders picked teams and organized for the battle. Both sides assigned a reconnaissance team to map the battlefield, and the rest headed to lunch. The tables were in a "well" in the center of the library, and we were drawing big crowds of interested teachers and students. A number expressed envy of those selected for the honor. The Principal was especially interested. As of yet, very little had happened.
After lunch both sides developed their plans using the consensus method. Once the plans were made, the troops were deployed, and the battle begun. Both sides had reasonable dispositions. Both were told that they had advantages yet known to them if they knew something about the battle. The south had rail reinforcements from the valley, if they could tell me about them, and if the north had only half their numbers on the field. The north was told over and over that they had equal forces to the confederates on the board.... Unfortunately they relied on the encyclopedia which had scant info on the battle. The south figured it out at the last minute and got their fresh divisions, which saved the day.
The north had the best plan. The commander selected his weakest divisions to demonstrate against the southern center while two stronger divisions conducted double envelopments on the flanks. He placed one division in the rear as a reserve. The southern commander spread his brigades across the whole table, defending the stream banks. Only in the center were any of the brigades mutually supporting. The union attacks defeated the defenders, destroying the unsupported brigades and forced the southerners out of the works in the center by enveloping them. The students quickly mastered the rules, and in the four hours we played they understood the game and the nature of combat in the American Civil War.
The game was going so well that the Principal gave permission to extend it by two periods. The last part of the exercise was a debriefing. Each side explained its plans and objectives and evaluated its performance. Although the south was saved by the intervention of the fresh divisions, they had lost four complete brigades and had six mangled (50% losses), plus three batteries lost by the time it arrived. The north lost one brigade and had three mangled, plus one half battery when the game ended. As judge, we had to give a marginal win to the confederacy but a tactical win to the north. Both sides had started with 25,000 men. The south lost 9,000 and added 5,000 during the battle. The north lost 4,000, and had they figured it out, they could have added 12,000. A second day would have had 21,000 confederates facing 33,000 unionists.
Greg has expressed a desire to do other things, and we are considering an Ancients tournament between middle schools or perhaps just another demonstration game. Each student got an HMGS historicon afteraction report and Cold Wars program. All seemed to have a good time.
We have many examples of games used as part of a history or social studies curriculum. We need more examples from other areas of study. How have you used games as part of a literature study? to teach a science lesson? as part of a math class? Are there topics for which games are not useful? Be ready for a lively exchange of ideas! Let us hear from you! Six pages and growing....
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