Tonight began a new semester. I’m once again teaching game design for 16 seniors in Graphic Design at WVU. I’m happy to say that I am optimistic about this group. They seemed engaged and excited about the topic. Of course, that could have something to do with the fact that we kicked off class by playing games.
My family went on a mini-vacation to see my Aunt and Uncle at Capon Springs as a last hurrah before school starts. We drove home today, but timed it so we could stop in Morgantown for my class. Since I had my family with me anyway, I decided to put them to good use. I broke my class into 4 groups of 4 and assigned each group to one of 4 games: Munchkin, Gloom, Takenoko, and Betrayal at House on the Hill. I selected these games because each one has distinctly different mechanics and gameplay. My wife and daughters each took one of the games and taught my students how to play. After an hour and 15 minutes, two of the games were over, and two were still going, but I had to call time.
Not only was this a really fun way to start the semester, but it gives me examples that I can reference when talking about game mechanics, narrative, experience, themes, etc. throughout the semester. The exercise showed my students what truly great game design can do, broadening their awareness from the shallow pool of Monopoly, Uno, and Taboo.
Because I only have one classroom available to me, I ended up leading Betrayal at House on the Hill in the middle of a hallway. I was interrupted a few times by passersby who were intrigued, and ultimately jealous, that we were actually playing games in class. My students think it’s pretty cool too. I hope they retain their enthusiasm as they find that game design, while all fun and games, is also a lot of work.