Edited by David Millians
Paideia School, 1509 Ponce de Leon Avenue, Atlanta, Georgia 30307 USA
Volume 5, Number 1
Greetings to all! I hope winter finds you warm and well. There's plenty of exciting material this issue of Games & Education. We have articles by both publishers and students on various approaches to games and simulations; reports on two games which received negative reactions from their communities; a list of research concerning games, simulations, role play, development, and young people; additional details on the Committee for the Advancement of Role-Playing Games (CAR-PGa); and communications. If you have something you can share - an idea, a game, a story, a warning - please, send it right on in! We need your ideas and insights too.
Publishers interested in game reviews for the next issue should send their products to us now. Teachers are already planning at least their spring curriculum if not that for the autumn of 1998.
They filmed a thirty minute segment of "Days of Our Lives," our simulation of life in a small, rural community in Georgia during the Second World War. My students, ten and eleven year olds, were, of course, very excited, but they were also proud of their characters and their stories. They made impromptu additions to their costumes and props, and their increased attention to plot details was striking. It was also noteworthy how much of this carried over into all later turns. I was interviewed afterward, and most of these comments were used as voiceover during the five minute segment the following week: "The secret of life is figuring out what you love to do and getting someone to pay to do it." We were thrilled to be on television, and we learned about our own game too.
The game has now ended, for the war came to its dramatic conclusions around the world of 1945. We will be returning to these complex issues, stories, characters in 1998, as we begin our exploration of the postwar and modern USA.
Thanks to Emma and Sandy Antunes, Games & Education has had a webpage at RPG Net for over a year now: www.rpg.net. Here you can find an archive of all past issues in addition to some other short pieces. You may have something we could add to it, or RPG Net can make a link to another webpage. RPG Net is an excellent and growing site with many other resources of interest. You can get all sorts of insightful help with your own Internet needs from the folks there.
Now RPG Net has established an email list, Edu-Games, for us! For those of you not familiar with mailing lists, they allow participants to exchange easily email messages to all members. These conversations can range across the spectrum of interests related to Games & Education and its mission of furthering communication regarding the use of games of all types in educational settings.
If you are interested in participating, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the body of the message saying: join edu-games. There is also a digest form, called "edu-games-digest," that you can join instead. Posts to edu-games go to both the regular and digest format, the only difference being how they are bundled. The regular list sends each email out as it is received. The digest version just sends one email each day that consists of all the day's postings neatly concatenated together. Posts themselves can be sent to the other subscribers of both versions, regular and digest.
Atlas Games demonstrated Once Upon A Time at a local school, a Montessori magnet school, and the reception was hugely positive. The sales manager is actually working with them now to sell the game as a fund raiser. He mentioned the idea when he was there showing the game; two days later the teacher who had arranged for them to demo there called back to say she had sixty two orders already! This has them thinking that Once Upon A Time as school fund raiser may have some potential as a marketing ploy. The 50% that goes to the school is better than some fund raising items deliver. Atlas Games, P.O. Box 131233, Roseville, Minnesota 55113; (612) 638-0077; fax: (612) 638-0084; email@example.com.
Avalon Hill offers a 40% discount for teachers. Avalon Hill Game Company, 4517 Harford Road, Baltimore, Maryland 21214-9989; (410) 254-9200 or (800) 999-3222; firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chaosium offers a 20% discount on any purchase of five or more books. You can mix and match as you see fit. Chaosium, 950-A 56th Street, Oakland, California 94608; (415) 547-7681; email@example.com.
Flying Buffalo has special group rates for classes who want to participate in their play by mail games. Rick Loomis, Flying Buffalo, P.O. Box 1467, Scottsdale, Arizona 85252; (602) 945-6917; FAX (602) 994-1170; Answering Machine (602) 994-0658; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.flyingbuffalo.com.
Global Games offers a 50% discount on games, plus $5 shipping and handling. Global Games, 1647 St. Clair Avenue West Unit 215A, Toronto, Ontario M6H 1H7 CANADA; (416) 516-9118; fax: (416) 516-4690.
Mayfair Games will send FREE train games to classrooms. Simply request this on school letterhead. Mayfair Games, P.O. Box 48539, Niles, Illinois 60648; (708) 647-9650 or (800) 432-4376; fax: (847) 647-0939; email@example.com.
Raven Star Game Design offers a 50% discount when purchase requests are written on school letterhead. Raven Star Game Design, 31600 Schoenherr - M1D, Warren, Michigan 48093.
Strunk Games offers discounts for the educational market. They carry such games as Stack, Abalone, and Omnigon. Strunk Games, PO Box 64, Eustis, Maine 04936; 1-800-669-3315; fax: (207) 246-4263.
I am sure that the requirements and expectations vary among these educational publishers. Please, let the rest of know how helpful or nor these resources are.
Creative Publications, 5623 West 115th Street, Worth, Illinois 60482-9931.
This catalog offers puzzles, manipulatives, and problem solving activities.
Education Publishing Service, 31 Smith Place, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138-1000.
EPS lists activity books and books about the teaching craft.
Interact, 1825 Gillespie Way #101, El Cajon, California 92020-1095; 1-800-359-0961; fax (619) 448-6722.
Interact produce a clear, structured, educational simulations, ranging from history to stock market math, from values education to problem solving. They have Spainish versions of some of their products.
Social Studies School Service, 10200 Jefferson Boulevard P.O. Box 802, Culver City, California 90232-0802.
This catalog is everything social studies, from geography to adolescent interpersonal skills
Worldwide Games, P.O. Box 517, Colchester, Connecticut 06415-0517; 1-800-888-0987.
Worldwide Games lists beautiful puzzles, games, models, and toys. West End Games advertises Sherlock Holmes here.
If you receive a discount through your school library or a local bookstore, try ordering games through them. Many of them are happy to help in this way.
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, Texas 75418. Membership in the group is free, though supporting work is expected, and subscriptions to the newsletter are $8.50 for the USA and $13.50 overseas.
Dragonsmoke is a newsletter published by Bob Albrecht and George Firedrake and is dedicated to toys and tools for teaching math and science, project based learning, and "Whatever else come to mind." It's full of ideas, insights, and helpful connections. Just send them a SASE at P.O. Box 1635, Sebastopol, California 95473-1635, and they'll have the latest issue back to you.
Gaming Intelligence is a weekly ezine full of up to date news, reviews, commentary on a wide range of board games, role playing games, war games, and more. Visit its website at www.io.com/mjg/gi or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Interactive Fantasy is a quarterly publication out of Britain. It explores games as a serious pursuit, while remaining aware of their inherently playful nature. Topics have included game styles, game history, future games, game design, mythology, sexuality, narrative, education, technology, and censorship. It is fascinating reading at many levels and accessible to anyone. Subscriptions are A320 in Europe, $32 in the USA, and $40 elsewhere. Andrew Rilstone can be reached at Interactive Fantasy, 2 Sainfoin Road, Tooting Bec, London SW17 8EP, Great Britain.
Metagame, a publication of the Interactive Literature Foundation, can be found at www.ilfinfo.org. The purpose of the ILF is to further live roleplaying as a whole. A future issue will cover EMT training and business larping.
The North American Simulation and Gaming Association (NASAGA) is an international, interdisciplinary organization committed to supporting those who develop and use simulation gaming and has members with backgrounds in education, training, organizational development, and public service. It sponsors annual conferences, its own newsletter, and Simulation & Gaming, described elsewhere on this page. Regular memberships are $55 per year. Contact Barbara Steinwachs at 1128 East Bluff Drive, Penn Yan, New York 14527; (315) 536-7895; email@example.com.
Paper Mayhem is a bimonthly magazine dedicated to Play By Mail Games like Star Webs and Feudal Lords. Bob Albrecht, among others, recommends it, and PBMs could allow your students to meet the challenges of games in a much broader context than a single classroom or school can provide. A one year subscription is $31.00, and you can contact them at Paper Mayhem, Department PM, 1518 Adams Street, Ottawa, Illinois 61350-4770.
Shadis is a monthly game magazine for gamers by gamers. It has solid arti cles, good reviews, and a broad scope of announcements in every issue. You can contact Alderac Entertainment Group at 4045 Guasti Road, Suite 212, Ontario, California 91761; (909) 390-5444; (909) 390-5446 (fax); Shadis2@aol.com.
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 and can be very interesting. It is aimed primarily at academics and business or military simulators. If interested ($50), contact Sage Publications, 2455 Teller Road, Thousand Oaks, California 91320.
GAMA Newsletter: L. Lee Cerny (Stellar Games), P.O. Box 602, Swanton, Ohio 43558; (419) 826-4262; fax (419) 826-4242; firstname.lastname@example.org.
GAMA WWW page: Charles Ryan (Chameleon Eclectic), P.O. Box 10262, Blacksburg, Virginia 24062-0262; email@example.com
Industry Insights Newsletter: Ann Dupuis, P.O. Box 838, Randolph, Massachusetts 02368-0838; firstname.lastname@example.org
The Rose: Paul Myer (Crazy Egor's), 1699 Hamlin Parma TL Road, Hilton, New York 14468-9715; email@example.com
The first article, Stephen Dyer's "Slavery reenactment angers parent," was reported among other places in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Sunday, November 9, 1997. A traditional summer camp activity simulating the Underground Railroad on the Ohio River upset an African-American parent when he learned that his son, like all of the participants, had portrayed a slave. Living and teaching the history of the United States, I am very aware of slavery's importance and the issues it raises, often different from community to community. Its legacy and pain are truly among the most important issues of our own time. This dispute, which I hope has been resolved to everyone's satisfaction by now, like the simulation which precipitated it, led to a broad, meaningful discussion of the underlying meaning of slavery and race in modern education. The article was a balanced and broad presentation.
The second article was received indirectly from James Desborough (Grim@postmort.demon.co.uk) and is printed in full.
'They are highly imaginative and tend to take things to their extreme. There is a genuine worry the fantasy violence could spill over into reality.'
From the Daily Mail (UK)
We shall all have to judge for ourselves.
I should note that I have copies of "Adventure Gaming," an old GAMA pamphlet which describes the hobby and entertainment side of games of all sorts. Like this newsletter, it could be a useful tool when facing hostile or uninformed judgments from your surrounding community, giving your activity some legitimacy in many peoples' eyes. Write of you would like a copy.
Abeyta, Suzanne & Forest, James, "Relationship of Role-Playing Games to Self-Reported Criminal Behaviour," in Psychological Reports, 1991, 69, 1187-1192.
Ascherman, Lee I., "The Impact of Unstructured Games of Fantasy and Role Playing on an Inpatient Unit for Adolescents," in International Journal of Group Psychotherapy, Vol. 43 (3), July 1993, 335-344.
Blackmon, Wayne D., "Dungeons and Dragons: The Use of a Fantasy Game in the Psychotherapeutic Treatment of a Young Adult," in American Journal of Psychotherapy, Vol. 48, No. 4, Fall 1994, 624-632.
Carroll, James L. & Carolin, Paul M., "Relationship between Game Playing and Personality," in Psychological Reports, 1989, 64, 705-706.
Chesnut, Wayne Everett, "Role-Playing Games: A Technical Writing Approach", M.A., California State University, Fresno, CA, 1992; Dissertation Abstracts AAC 1351825.
DeRenard, Lisa A. & Kline, Linda Mannik, "Alienation and the Game Dungeons & Dragons", in Psychological Reports, 1990, 66, 1219-1222.
Douse, Neil A. & McManus, Ian Chris, "The Personality of Fantasy Game Players," in British Journal of Psychology, 1993, 84, 505-509.
'ine, Gary Alan, "Oscillating Frames: Fantasy Games and Real Reality," in American Sociological Association: Papers Presented at the Annual ASA Meeting, N.Y. 1980, 100 (Abstract).
Fine, Gary Alan, "Fantasy Games and Social Worlds; Simulation as Leisure," in Simulation & Games, Vol. 12 No. 3, September 1981, 251-279.
Fine, Gary Alan, Shared Fantasy - Role-Playing Games as Social Worlds. University of Chicago Press, Chicago/London 1983.
Fine, Gary Alan, "Humorous Interaction and the Social Construction of Meaning: Making Sense in a Jocular Vein," in Studies in Symbolic Interaction, 1984, Vol. 5, 83-101.
Fine, Gary Alan, "Mobilizing Fun: Provisioning Resources in Leisure Worlds," in Sociology of Sport Journal, 1989, 6, 319-334.
Honey, Margaret A., "Play in the Phallic Universe: An Analysis of Adolescents' Involvement with a Fantasy Role-Playing Computer Game," Doctor of Philosophy, Columbia University 1988; Dissertation Abstracts AAC 9102424.
Kallam, Michael L., "The Effects of Simulation Games Play upon Oral Language Development and Internalization of Locus of Control among Mildly Handicapped Adolescents," PhD, Oklahoma State University 1984; Dissertation Abstracts AAC 8427677.
Kallam, Michael L., "The Relationship between Simulation Game Play and the Oral Conceptualization Skills of Mildly Handicapped Adolescent Students," Master Thesis in Learning Disabilities, University of Tulsa 1980.
Kraus, Linda Ann, "Social Psychological Causes and Consequences of Fantasy Gaming: A Test of Identity Theory," PhD, Indiana University 1986; Dissertation Abstracts AAC 8628071.
Rilstone, Andrew & Wallis, James (ed.) Inter*Action, The Journal of Role-Playing and Storytelling Systems,, Hogshead Publishing, London, ISSN 1353-4548.
Shelley, Charles Arthur Jr., "The After-School Activities of Fifth Graders: A Study of Commonality, Teachers' Ratings and Educative Value," Doctor of Philosophy, Michigan State University 1984; Dissertation Abstracts AAC 8424477.
Sim'n, Armando, "Emotional Stability Pertaining to the Game of Dungeons & Dragons," in Psychology in the Schools, Vol. 24, October 1987, 329-332.
Starker, Steven, "Fantasy in Psychiatric Patients: Exploring a Myth," in Hospital & Community Psychiatry, Vol. 30 (1), January 1979, 25-30.
Wilkie, Rodger Ian, The Book of Making. M.A. English, University of New Brunswick (CANADA), 1993, AAC MM89250, ISBN 0-315-89250-1.
Zayas, Luis H. & Lewis, Bradford H., "Fantasy-Role-Playing for Mutual Aid in Children's Groups: A Case Illustration," in Social Work with Groups, Vol. 9 (1), Spring 1986, 53-66.
We need to learn of more resources like those above. If you have conducted research or are aware of some, even if it is still in process or being planned, please let us know. Several teachers have worked with researchers on these and other projects, and we can all help each other better understand learning, games, and development.
On a related note, what questions would you like answered? In what directions could research most usefully proceed? What are the issues you face? What factors ought a researcher to keep in mind in order to conduct experiments and studies that will be meaningful for you on their completion? Let us know.
The plan now is to produce as many as four issues per year again, and we need material. Share what you know. Each of you is an expert in your own areas, and you know things which would benefit others. Lend your voice.
This school year, every week two of my students visit a classroom of five year olds to tell stories. It's been more than we had hoped, for my students, not strong academicians or readers in some cases, return proud and enthused. The five year olds are now excited to share stories of many different types with each other as well. They admire my students and want to know how they learn, present, and read. Their teachers are as thrilled as am I.
Some of my students read from a text. Some learn or memorize a tale. Some tell a favorite of their own. Adam and Rembert chose to present their fairy tale as an interactive role play. Here is Rembert's account of the storytelling and the story.
"Talespinners Rembert and Adam go to Chris and Shelley's class at 1:45." Chris and Shelley's class is a first grade class. Talespinners are two people who go to their class and tell stories on Mondays and Wednesdays. The only problem after this is that Adam and I forgot to make up a story. The time was getting closer and closer and closer to 1:45, and Adam had an idea. The story would be a mix of Jack and the Beanstalk, the story of Camelot, and Robin Hood. Here is our story, the Giant's House.
Once upon a time, there lived eight men and two women (the children). They were very poor but courageous. They live in the same house, and they had 8 horses. One day, while they were traveling, they saw a huge mountain that went up to the clouds or farther. It had a circular path that went around the mountain, wide enough so the horses could fit. The next morning the 8 horses and the 10 people went up the mountain.
When they got to the top, the saw a giant house. When they went inside, they saw an emerald, a ruby, and a diamond. They also saw a giant! They ran as fast as they could, but he said, "I'm a friendly giant." They sighed. He said that they could sleep there for a while, since their horse were tired.
When the giant left, they got that devilish look in their eyes. One of them said, "If we stole the gems, we would be rich." When the giant went to sleep, they stole the ruby. The next day, when the giant went on a stroll in the clouds, they stole the diamond. When the giant went to eat out, they stole the emerald. When the giant got back from eating out, he saw them loading the gems on the horses and trying to escape. He ran toward them, grabbed them an ate them, the horses and the people, whole.
[Shades of the Brothers Grimm, anyone?]
by John Kazuo Morehead
Arthurian Roleplay is a four week short term course at Paideia High School in which a group of students take on the personas of characters in the world of King Arthur and embark upon a journey through Arthur's England. This was the second year that the course was offered. Originally the game was established last school year by seniors by Martin Aguilera and Seth Plockelman. I am now a junior and was this year's game master.
I had been in the class the previous year. The game changed with the new game master, and elements from other games such as AD&D and Call of Cthulhu were added. Another change was the assignment of basic player character types. The players were given a sheet of paper that told them their rank, profession, and alignment (good or bad or the player's choice). This was to ensure that the game would not be too heavily weighted with one type of character. I have mixed emotions about doing that again, for it leaves some people with characters that they have no desire to play as well as not allowing the players much freedom in creating their characters.
After the players had established their character through writing about his or her history, family lineage, and the like, we embarked on our journey to Dorchester. I chose this site because I had hoped to get the players there in time to take part in the final battle of Arthur and Mordred, which was near this location. Unfortunately, due to pitfalls and sidetracks along the way, the party of unruly pilgrims never reached Dorchester. Between stopping off in elven villages, being imprisoned on charges of murder, fighting within the group, and a run in with Morgan le Fay, the slow going was understandable. The group itself split down the middle from about the first week of game play. The group didn't work very well as a group. In the coming year this problem should hopefully be avoided to an extent, even though it makes for rather interesting role playing. Despite the occasional problems, I consider this year's game a success. I hope to make some changes for the good of the game, and I already have some ideas on what the quest will be next year. Right now, I'm leaning to a hunt for the Questing Beast.
I think that having a role playing game offered at school is a wonderful way to get people interested in gaming, and it also makes learning about Arthurian lore fun and exciting and exposes some people to it that wouldn't have been otherwise. I only hope I can find someone who will don the robe and scepter of the gamemaster after I have gone, who will continue leading groups of travelers through the lands of Arthur and his knights, faeries trickery, and sorcerous duels between Merlin and Morgan le Fay. I'm not worried, though, because the need for stories of King Arthur's world will always be there, and someone will rise to tell them.
As often happens when I'm just falling asleep an idea for a new role playing game (RPG) popped into my head and I thought I would throw it out for consideration. Maybe there's nothing new under the sun, but this struck me as what might be a genuinely new and different approach to RPGing.
One of the things which has always bugged me about RPGs is that they emula te fiction and legends which usually focus on a single dominant character but do it through a technique which involves a group of characters who are all supposedly equal. Most RPGs are pretty good at simulating the social dynamics of Lord of the Rings or some of the more recent game-based fantasy which features groups of adventurers, but they really aren't right for more traditional scenarios of lone heroes with the occasional sidekick.
So how do you fix it? How do you create a RPG for multiple players which still has the individualistic focus? It's a thorny issue for me, because I feel that one of the biggest problems in RPGing is the tendency of the social interaction between the players to dilute the quality of the roleplaying of the characters.
Thinking about this issue a weird and perhaps dangerous idea popped into my mind.
How about a RPG in which each player doesn't play a unique character, but instead all of the players cooperate to play a single character. I don't mean sharing a character or passing the character around. That really doesn't work. I mean multiple players all playing the same character at the same time.
The way I envision this working is that the rules of the game would break a character's personality down into certain key areas, and each player would play one particular aspect of the character's personality. Skills would be grouped under those areas and each player would essentially take over the character at those times when that aspect of the character was dominant.
I realize this sounds like a bad TV-series that was on Fox a few years ago, but I think it might work better as a roleplaying concept.
For example in a fantasy campaign the character is a heroic mercenary type. Excuse the triteness. Key personality areas might be:
Social - Interpersonal skills, talking to background characters, and so forth.
Physical - Takes over in combat situations, provides input in potentially volatile situations.
Rational - Considered decision making and kills other than combat. Background skills and talents. Might be tied to "inner child."
Emotional - Quick reactions. Conscience, Religion, and the like.
Obviously these things would need to be better defined, but in such a character each would be substantial enough to give every player something to do most of the time.
There would be lots of arguing about what the character would be doing at a given time, and the GM would probably have to call for a vote from time to time to resolve issues so the game didn't bog down.
I see a sample situation being something like this:
Mr. Mercenary is in a bar. His Emotional player is trying to decide whether or not to have another drink, while his Social player is distracting him somewhat by trying to pick up a barmaid and his Rational player is looking for a potential opportunity for employment. A drunken lout starts harassing the barmaid he's eying. The Emotional player decides how he reacts to this, and picks confrontation with the lout. The Social player then tries to talk to the lout and get him to behave. If it doesn't work, the emotional player and the rational player decide together what to do, and if they pick full-out confrontation then the Physical player takes over for combat.
That's a rough outline of the idea. Does anyone think it would work? What are the obvious holes in the concept? Would you actually want to play in a game structured like this?
[All contents of this post copyright 1997, David F. Nalle and Ragnarok Press.]
How could we use these ideas? Could a a simulation have each and every student in a class represent some aspect of what normally be considered a single character or persona? The idea as presented by Dave is certainly intriguing. There's no need to worry about the group splintering into scattered, smaller groups. Can we go further? Could students be types of critics or advisors all within the mind of a single author or historical character? Each player could represent a part of the body in a physiology simulation: "How doesyour role change if we become a crab instead of a human?" Some of us may have applied a related idea when we have divided a two person wargame or boardgame into smaller roles for a larger group of players. Let us know what you have done.
The MGF Approach
by Michael O'Brien
c.1997. All rights reserved. Permission is granted for classroom use only.
David Millians' description of his "Isla de las Ballenas" classroom roleplay (See Games and Education, volume 4 number 2), in which students played roles in an imaginary missionary village, got me thinking about a simple roleplaying system I have used at a number of RPG conventions. I think it could be ideal in a classroom setting, for students in the upper elementary years and older.
I call this style of play the Maximum Game Fun system (MGF). It uses a very simple storytelling model, ie. one where events happen and characters succeed or fail in tasks at the discretion of the Teacher/Gamemaster (GM) in the interests of sustaining the narrative. In other words, there are no hard-and-fast rules per se, and the GM should be prepared to go take the plot in all directions.
By now, you might be asking, "OK, if there's no rules, then where's the 'system'?" This comes in with the creation of characters: in the MGF game, players create characters of their own based on certain standardised archetypes. In David Millians' early America game mentioned above, these archetypes could include:
Each of these archetypes knows certain skills and abilities.
It would be an interesting research topic in itself for students to decide what standard skills each archetype in the game might have. A game set in the middle ages could have students finding out about the everyday life of a knight or lady. A game set in the Roman Senate might have students delving into Ancient History books. A simulation set in the trenches of World War One could see students looking at films like Kubrik's Paths of Glory, the memoirs of Robert Graves, or the poems of Siegfried Sassoon.
In other games I have run, archetypes have included ancient world hoplites, peasant serfs, and medieval monks. Each have their own short list of standard skills.
Once the setting is chosen and you have developed archetypes, players then get to create their own characters.
The real fun begins when the players decide how their characters differ from the chosen archetype.
Players do this by filling in their MGF character sheets, an example of which is in the second column on page 9.
Let's assume you're planning a roleplay set in a Middle Ages monastery. One group of students are going to be young novices, learning to become monks.
The first thing the group would do would come up with general things the average novice might know or do. These could include:
Each novice also might have a habit and rosary beads, a cloak for winter, and a straw cot in their small cell.
The players must now develop the ways their young novice differs from the norm. Here's some examples of what players might come up with!
In my experience, creating the characters can actually be as much fun as playing the scenario, particularly if you go round the group and get each player to tell everyone about their characters and even more fun at the end of the game, where everyone reveals the secret stuff! Have fun!
Where am I from?
How did I get here?
3 things I do better than average
3 things I do worse than average
3 things everyone knows about me
3 things no one knows about me
3 things I believe are true
A favourite possession
My ambition is
Back in 1987, the mass media was filled with attacks on role-playing games (RPG), accusing them of promoting crime, suicide, and unspecified satanic religions. After Geraldo Rivera's hatchet-job on the Entertainment Tonight broadcast of October 12, 1987, I wrote to Dragon magazine, suggesting a clearinghouse for information of all types of RPG and devoted to sound research.
That December, a couple of game players, who met at the Gen Con game convention in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and who corresponded thereafter, organized the Committee for the Advancement of Role-Playing Games (CAR-PGa), originally intending it to be an action committee within the Role Playing Games Association (RPGA). TSR, the publisher of Dungeons & Dragons (D&D), by that time apparently had taken the view that any attack on D&D was just so much free publicity and wanted no part of a game defense group. CAR-PGa became an ad hoc committee, and so it remains. Several months after this, I heard about CAR-PGa, joined, and became the first state coordinator and then a regional coordinator. I ultimately became the chairman of CAR-PGa.
While CAR-PGa was originally concerned primarily with game defense, we were also concerned with matters such as improving the state of the art in rules and playing techniques, the uses of games in school curricula and therapy, and other such matters involving games. David Millians is a resource for educational applications, and Dr. Omar Diniz, a practicing psychiatrist in Rio de Janiero has vastly helped our work in exploring ways of using RPG in therapy. We also have a sizable collection of publications which has grown out of our research and bibliography of works from scholarly journals which are of help. We will provide these either for the cost of copying, although generally the scholarly articles can be obtained without postage costs at the nearest university library.
We have no monetary dues. Documented work for the cause - which can range from clipping newspaper stories to publishing a scholarly book to leading seminars at a convention - constitute our dues. We do, however, have to charge for our monthly newsletter: $8.50 per year in North America and $13.50 overseas. While we have never been interested in gaining members for sheer numbers, we are definitely interested in getting new members to provide better coverage. Our information packet is available for a 55cent stamp domestically or for two international reply coupons outside the USA.
We would like to have you with us.
They mostly get it better than I do. We're practically born playing Let's Pretend, so it comes naturally for most. Some kids are nervous with the drama aspect, but then last year I had a withdrawn girl, new to the school, really come out through her character in the autumn simulation, and she was right in the mix from then onward. Some kids feel like they have to have know all kinds of things in order to begin play, but they soon see opportunities and get involved. The most difficult challenges are probably passive kids, but they don't get much more out of a straight lecture either. They're just less apparently tuned out. Classroom curricula and pedagogy have to be tailored to fit the teacher, the school, the classroom, the community, and the students as a group as well as for individual needs. They're not a magic bullet for educational reform or society's ills, but games and simulations do offer so very much to so many students and teachers.
Thanks for your letter! The PlainLabel RPG system in general and the Pocket Fantasy implementation of it in particular are ideal for introducing preteens to role-playing game concepts. I'm as anxious as a new father, waiting to see the final game come back from the printers and hoping we have hit the target and filled the gap for RPG beginners.
We'll be rolling out the game at Origins in Columbus, OH, July 17-20. If you don't make it there, expect local dealers to have access to it soon thereafter through most of the usual distributor outlets. We'll also have the game available for mail order from our web site right after the convention.
Greg Poehlein and I inherited a series of gamemaster seminars we did for many years at Gen Con from a professional educator and a professional storyteller, and their experiences with RPGs in the classroom taught me a great deal. I was pleased and surprised early in my career as a game designer to find that my own first game design, Grailquest (a solitaire game of the search for the Holy Grail), was being used by teachers and Sunday School classes as an exercise in teaching problem solving and ethics. I've tried to keep that in mind in my work since.
RPG and associated storytelling techniques are something that should be in the arsenal of more teachers.
Guy McLimore firstname.lastname@example.org; plainlabel.galstar.com
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