Origins Game Fair 2018 and Roll Player

As I mentioned in our last blog I recently attended Origins 2018. I attended this with the mindset less about me personally this year but much more about how I could use this opportunity both for the EDL 290T class as well as for the various student organizations I work with. We have made several connections that will be beneficial for one or the other (or, in the case of a couple I’ll be blogging about soon beneficial for both.)

Today, however, I wanted to continue blogging with a second game I found that could be an awesome addition to the class. While walking around talking to different companies about the class I got almost fully positive reactions. (There was really only one negative reaction my whole time.) One of the best was from Keith Matejka from Thunderworks Games.  Keith is the designer of Roll Player.

Roll Player

Roll Player

Roll Player is a dice rollin game for 2-4 players where you create a character for a Role Playing Game. I’ve played some RPGs were that is the most fun part, so I was intrigued by this game. In Roll Player you choose (in player order) your race and are randomly dealt your class, alignment, etc. However, Tom Vasel can do a much better job explaining the game in the following video than I could.


Back to Origins. I told Keith about my class and he told me “you should consider Roll Player for your class about “building your character.” In that class we talk about the basic building blocks of what makes you who you are-setting up the following two classes on values and identity. Keith offered a copy of the game to try to see what I thought about using it as an addition for the class.

I think Roll Player could very well be an excellent addition to the class. Students have to make very strategic choices based on several aspects of the game. They want to get their values aligned. They have a class with requirements they want to match and a character history to match. These basically show the goals, values and the aspects of personality they need to have. What is important to you and what do you need to let go to accomplish a more pressing goal you may have? What is important to you and what do you need to do to accomplish that goal. The use of the cards in the card drafting portion of the game again exemplifies these. This is an excellent way to look at “what are the building blocks of your character” and transition into the much more in depth look at values and identity over the coming weeks.

In short-I think Roll Player may be an addition that we may be making if things work out for the future in EDL 290T.

Origins Game Fair 2018 and The Mind

I have been attending Origins Game Fair this year with several students-three of which have taken the class (one of those, John, is teaching with me this spring) and one who taught the class with Aidyn this spring. While we are primarily attending simply because we love games, as I mentioned in an earlier post it is impossible for me not to make connections and ties and such while doing things. Because of that, while at Origins we have been looking for ideas and consider things in the lens of the class as well.

Origins Game Fair

Origins Game Fair

Origins is a game convention in Columbus, OH. This is my second time attending and it is fantastic to get to come to a fair that is actually so much about the games and keeps the focus exactly there-the games. We got to playtest a large number of games over the weekend and discuss with creators and others the games while we were here.

I want to briefly discuss one of those now. The first is a game we played (and John is one of the few who got to buy because it was just on pre-release) and that we are considering adding in to the class in week two when students currently play Hanabi (as a second option, not a replacement). That game is The Mind.

The Mind

The Mind was one of, if not the, hottest games at Origins 2018.

The Mind is a cooperative hand management game by Wolfgang Warsch and published by Pandasaurus Games for 2-4 players.  It is a card game where the primary component is a deck of 100 cards numbered 1-100.  The Mind takes place over a series of rounds or levels, depending on the number of players. The number of the level corresponds to how many cards the players get. The goal each level is to play all of the cards in your hand in ascending order. So say a person has card number one and another card number 2-the person with number one would have to play before the person with number 2. (This is a rare case, as the deck is shuffled so it is more likely someone has number 3 and another number 11.) The challenge here is that the players cannot talk, hint, or in anyway indicate what numbers they have in most ways through the course of playing the cards.  This particularly gets hard at higher levels when, for example, in a four player game on level 4 you have 16 cards you are trying to play. This is a very simple explanation, and I believe people want to watch more than listen-so here is a video from our friends at The Dice Tower that explains more on how it works and gives you their opinions on the game:

This game has many similarities to Hanabi in the discussions we could have, but adds new and different layers to things. If we end up adding this to the class we would ideally have everyone play both games (which would be a rarity but they are both shorter games) and then discuss the concepts of the day. This day we are talking about how teams and groups work and the challenges of leading in teams and groups. The Mind would be an excellent addition to that and I believe will help students see how some of the concepts that week come to life. One of the two supplemental readings that week is Kouzes and Posner’s Student Leadership Challenge and this game will really help bring to life some of the five practices and ten commitments of exemplary student leadership. As an example the third practice is Challenge the Process and the two related commitments are “search for opportunities by seeking innovative ways to change, grow and improve” and “experiment and take risks by constantly generating small wins and learning from mistakes.” This game exemplifies those statements and really will help students discussions go far in those areas.

I look forward to bringing you more of these snippets and short reviews of how I see leadership lessons learned through the class.

Games in Schools and Libraries Podcast

This is going to be the most casual, conversational blog I write most likely. Just because…well…I am blown away.

I won’t lie…in 2012 when I had the idea for this class after attending the NASAGA conference (which you should absolutely attend this October) it was little more than a dream I thought was a cool idea. The EDL department (and in particular Dr. Kathleen Knight Abowitz) supported the idea. It was really Bethany MacMillan who made the idea a reality. Dr. Bob De Schutter and the IMS Department supported us as we got started in making it happen. It couldn’t have happened without CTE and the grant we received through them. Thankful for Jennifer, my wife, always supporting what I do. However…all of that said it still feels like a dream that this is a thing we did…even though the class is very much a reality that around 70 students have taken so far and another batch is prepared to take this fall.

It seemed so weird to me I still have the screen shot when the course list first came out and I saw the class listed. I had been teaching classes for a decade but this was something totally different.

Course Listing

This is the original course listing for EDL 290T for the first time.

I was surprised when the university wanted to send in a photographer to take pictures for use in marketing materials to show the awesome classes we have at Miami. Now another step that seemed dream like but isn’t: at the end of March Bethany and I were recorded as guests for the Games in Schools and Libraries podcast. Really…why would anyone care about this little class we created? But people seemed to and now we were being recorded for a podcast.

That podcast is now live. Which just doesn’t seem real to me. I won’t lie…it always baffles me when people consider me knowledgeable or an expert on any type of content…primarily because I know me and I don’t consider me an expert on anything, for the most part. People asking me for advice or looking to me as this great wise person just baffles and humbles me. However, I’ll ride this train (I have a Ticket to Ride!) for as long as I can and enjoy it while I can.

Games in Schools and Libraries Website

Feel free to follow the link/click the picture to go to the GSL website to hear our podcast.

Thanks to all those that have taken the class, helped make the class possible, and that have believed in me! Don’t worry…this is just the beginning!

Who’s Hitler?

For the second week of class, we played Secret Hitler. Much like Avalon last week. Secret Hitler is also a hidden role game pitting liberals against Hitler and his fascists in a bid to get their party’s policies through government. Having previous experience with this game, the hardest part for me was trying to lead my team to victory without drawing too much attention to myself lest I risk getting killed. If I’m too outspoken, the other party would view me as the figurehead and by getting rid of me could bring down my party. This is also a part of leadership, knowing when to talk and when to hold your tongue. Leaders need to be able to motivate through their words and actions but also need to be able to sit back and listen to others. For much the same reason as last time, my friend Josh would like this game and in fact he owns his own copy.

Choose Your Own Adventure – The Day Hike

Hello world! I just finished up this choose your own adventure story using Twine. Twine is a really cool tool for building choose your own adventure stories, or even for building simple games. A little programing skill goes a long way, but it by no means necessary with this tool. Anyway, I hope you guys enjoy playing through this story as much as I enjoyed writing it! Enjoy!


Week 9 – Sonar

Last week we played Captain Sonar, a quick and loud game.  Two teams of four face off in a submarine hunt, with each member filling a different role.  This game was fairly challenging in that you need to be able to focus on not only your role but also what the rest of your team is doing and how it will affect you.  This is something leaders have to deal with everyday, understanding what they need to do and how others can help them along the way. My friend Ben would like this game as he always had his mind turned towards the ocean if that makes sense.

Week 8 – Werewolf

We played Ultimate Werewolf this past week which is one of the classic hidden role games, up there with Mafia.  The hardest part of this game was trying to read other players to figure out what team they were on. This ties to leadership with figuring out how to get people to trust you and see from your point of view, of course the opposite is also true.  I already know my friend Natalie likes this game, she’s told me about playing with a huge group at a comic-con type event.

Week 7 – Free Play!

This week the class broke into smaller groups and got to choose their own games to play.  My group ended up playing Linkee in which teams write down answers to trivia questions and then try to figure out what links all of those answers.  The hardest part of this game was to not yell out the answers when I figured out a clue. As far as leadership and this game go, leaders need to be able to use everyone’s strength to properly function as a team.  Some people are good at trivia while others are better at the logic puzzle of figuring out the link. My whole family would like this game as we’re fans of trivia.

Week 6 – Ladies & Gentlemen

This week we played Ladies & Gentlemen.  As the name would suggest, there are teams of 2, a lady who shops for outfits and a gentleman who tries his hand at the stock market.  I did not particularly enjoy this game as the two roles had very little interaction nor did there seem to be much skill involved, more luck in picking the right cards or going to the best store.  My friend back home, Stephen, would probably like this game though as it is very fast paced. This game relates to how leaders need to balance different groups of people who may not interact in order to achieve a goal.

Week 5 – Survive

Last week we played Survive Escape from Atlantis.  Everyone tries to evacuate their tribe from the sinking island of Atlantis only to run into more trouble at sea.  For me, the hardest part of this game was dealing with all of the randomness that would happen on everyone’s turn.  A new part of the island would sink, boats and sea creatures move about, people fall into the ocean all while you are trying to keep track of which of your people are worth the most points.  This is very similar to what leaders, especially management and upper levels, have to deal with, unpredictability of the economy, what the rest of their field is doing, ect. I think my friend Nathan would enjoy this game with how much you can mess with other players.