Games – Make ‘Em, Play ‘Em, Hack ‘Em, (and most of all) Tell ‘Em!

Games – Make ‘Em, Play ‘Em, Hack ‘Em, (and most of all) Tell ‘Em!

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This Make was created by Joe Dillon and Terry Elliot

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CLMOOC 2014 Make Cycle #3 is all about games. And the games we are considering are ones taken from the widest continuum imaginable: childhood games, board games, made up games, online games, World Cup games and the greatest meta-game of all—telling stories about games. Games and gaming have burst into the learner zeitgeist over the last several years marked by the coining of the term “gamification” in education circles. Game sales are bigger than movie box office revenue worldwide. Game apps can create overnight millionaires.

But games are also intimate and unconcerned with big bucks. Often they are about narrative. In the lead up to our work on this cycle we began by talking about games in our own lives. Joe told about how his backyard trampoline was not just a magnet for playmates in the neighborhood, but also a source of ad hoc gam-ery. Terry related how his mother was an afficionado of hard ball, marbles, and knife games. He learned “danger games” about knives while playing mumblety peg. Christina Cantrill told about how her father played “halfball,” a game that involved half a ball and car traffic. Michael Weller admitted to a continuing passion for table top ice hockey. Kim Douillard (who said at first that she couldn’t think of how gaming was important in her life) shared a project that is a fixture of the San Diego Writing Project’s Summer Institute: participants remix the classic board game Monopoly. We invite you to not only play, make and hack games, but we invite you to be your own bard about games past, present, and future.

Let’s Get Serious

The main subtext underlying games is play. Play researchers like Peter Gray have argued that our culture is play-deprived, something that “unschools” like the Sudbury School have taken to heart in restructuring learning from the ground up. Gray also argues that play dovetails into human adaptation and survival. In other words, without play we will not survive as a species.

This week (and beyond) we ask you to tell stories about play, to make up games and play them, to find others’ games and play them, and to hack/adapt games as you wish and you will. I think you will find that connected learning principles and values fit hand in glove with the idea of play.

Our invitation? Choose your own adventure!

Make games

  • Anna Smith gamifies Fridays by sending us on a reflective scavenger hunt in Find Five Fridays #F5F.

    Kim Douillard gamifies the way we look at our world by issuing photography challenges each week. You might make a game out of your participation in CLMOOC this week. How will you approach your participation? Can you gamify it and share your game with others?

Play games
  • Document and record the games you play—online or off—this week. We’ll invite you to play (or host) Pop up #twitcastrophe. This mooc-ified remix of a hackjam game introduced to us by Andrea Zellner and Chad Sansing might get CLMOOC playing and creating together.
Hack games
  • In More Than a Game Kim Douillard, shares how she remixes the classic board game Monopoly with the San Diego Writing Project’s Summer Institute to explore issues of equity. In Hacking Four Corners, Kevin Hodgson tells how his students hacked a simple game they played in class to make it more interesting. The popular programming language and online community Scratch might be a space where we can remix games and practice programming.
Most importantly, tell stories about games
  • Our voices and our collective stories can surface how games have always led to learning and how play already happens in educational spaces. In Terry Elliott’s post, Danger Games: a Mother’s Story, he tells about knives, marbles, and his mother’s encouragement to “get outside and play.” How might stories like this reframe games, play, and learning?
Choose your own #CLMOOC adventure

Image by Joe Dillon CC BY

Let’s Spark Our Thinking

Each link below opens paths into this week, and like the old “choose your own” books they can lead you to play in new spaces and places where you will make, play, connect, and learn.

Remember that however you wish to game, play is the operative verb. Just blaze your own trail.

Make Cycle 3 - Games - Make 'em, Play 'em, Hack 'em, Tell about 'em

Image by Terry Elliot CC BY



You can edit this newsletter here if you want to add more “sparks”: Hackable version of newsletter.

Here is a social bookmarking group for reading about games and sharing your links and thoughts: Diigo “Let’s Go Play”

Maybe read Ready Player One?: Earnest Kline’s great summer read. Also, a trés cool website.

Asynchronously discuss along with us and play expert (oxymoron intended), Jane McGonigle’s global thumb wrestling initiative.

Asynchronously discuss, along with us and play scholar Peter Gray, the evolutionary imperative that play represents.


And whatever you do, make sure you share your examples and/or tutorials at the bottom of this Make Bank entry or on G+, Twitter, your blog, or wherever else you hang out.


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5 Examples Completed for this Make

  1. Not a Game!
       submitted by Celeste Layton

    Reflection of the importance of games in my personal and professional life and how games can be created and used in a classroom.

  2. Rescue
       submitted by JoLynne Walz Martinez

    Rescue is an old parlor game my grandfather taught me when I was a little girl. My students enjoy collaborating on narratives using this game. I updated it by photographing the stages in a sample game played by my daughter and myself. Then I used Photoshop to edit the pictures. Finally, I put it all together in a Prezi, using a template depicting an open book. It’s a game. It’s a story. It’s fun.

  3. Playing with Poetry
       submitted by Margaret Simon

    Using Thinglink’s new video feature, I linked flower poems written on Tapestry to a YouTube video of flowers blooming. I invite others to submit their own flower poems to add to the video.

  4. 5th Grade Minecraft Game Designers
       submitted by Dr. Valerie Hill

    5th Graders designed and built a Digital Citizenship Game in Minecraft. They invited 3rd & 4th graders to “test” the game and earn a digital citizenship crown.

  5. The Status Game – Begging for a Remix
       submitted by Mindy A. Early

    I’m sure it goes by many different names, but I learned this theatre improv game as The Status Game. Thanks to the structure provided by a deck of cards and a clear objective, this it a fairly easy improv game for students to play. The open-ended nature of the game – that it can take place at any time, at any place, for any length of time – makes it ripe for hacking and remixing, I think!

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Creative Commons License
This work by Joe Dillon and Terry Elliot is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.