Games have the ability to transform a classroom and engage students. Whether rewarding desired behavior with points and recognition or when playing actual games (like my game Insight), educators everywhere are reaping great advances in engagement and retention by utilizing games. Conducting a twitter search for #gamification provides an endless supply of the latest and greatest advancements in the field.
With all the tools, guides, and classes out there (like my class), guess what is still the best way to learn about games? That's right, by playing games! The world of tabletop gaming goes way beyond the classics we grew up on and there are games that meet any interests in theme, purpose, number of players, and style. Want to be a salmon trying to swim up stream? There's a game for that. Want to be an alien building a new space colony? There's a game for that. Want to be a European merchant selling goods in the 1800s? There are probably about 500 games for that. Check out The Hotness list on Board Game Geek to see some of the best.
Educators, I encourage you to play games in your free time.
It will keep your mind sharp, it's fun, and most importantly they can teach you some of the best mechanisms and concepts to use in your own classrooms. With that in mind, here are 1-5 of the ten games every educator should be playing:
A fun and award-winning game that sharpens the skill of word association and is great with a larger group of players.
Like a cooperative mix of Clue and Dixit, players work together to solve a murder mystery using only the clues provided by the silent victim. Communication and deduction skills have to be on point to reach victory!
One of the main mechanics that keeps games fun is chance and that is what drives the excitement behind every play of Camel Up. Simple dice rolls keep you on the edge of your seat in this game that is great for up to eight players.
Simply put: this is a perfect example of how ANY subject can be made into a game. This is basically Chemistry: The Game, and has been the only thing keeping me up to date on the Periodic Table.
This beautiful game shows that you don't have to make a game complicated to make it good. Players build flowers using cards that are perfectly designed to overlap. Simple yet exquisite.
If you're in Chicago, I recommend picking up games at Cat & Mouse Games in West Loop or Bucktown; they're always happy to help you find exactly the right match or suggest something new.