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Assumption is the mother of all…

So game number two. What was this game supposed to be about? What kind of game could we design to take our students to the next level? What was our next role?

Looking at game #1, the big pinup board game, one of the main things the students were doing was making assumptions about basically everything. Before we explained anything, they all knew, just by looking at the profile cards we gave them, that they were supposed to be interviewing people. Even after Thieu explicitly said “No interviews are allowed!”, they were 100% positive that they were supposed to interview people. Because this was something they had assumed.

These assumptions limited them in their execution of the game. And, well, if these students are to become future leaders of the world, assumptions in general are going to limit them in everything really. If you assume that the president of the United States of America is not gonna write you back a letter, there is no point sending one.

One of the blocks

So we wanted to make an assumption game. A game that would make them deal with assumptions, be aware of them. This, we discovered, was a complicated task.

Complicated because we focused on making assumptions the main gameplay element. We wanted the students to use their assumptions to successfully play the game. This, we discovered, was not entirely possible. Because really, is an assumption still an assumption when you change it until it becomes useful for you? Or does it just become an interpretation, making your creativity the main tool? Assumptions are hard to measure. What is a good assumption, what isn’t? And in that, how on earth do you make the rules so that they self regulate the use of these assumptions?

So that was our struggle, we could tell you all about the progress in between, where we went wrong and what our iterations were, but it’s too much to go into here and now. So here’s what we ended up with:

Writing cards

We played our game, a race between four teams from A to B. The goal was to get your block as far as you could, but you could not actually touch the block. So.. how? Each group received four cards. On these cards, they created a rule that would help move the block. Every group then received one of the cards from each other group, all ending up with four different rule cards. Each card they could use for one full minute, then the next card was used. This way of creating rules as you go was inspired by Nomic, which we played with the students earlier. If you want to play the game yourself, check out the rules writeup on Ludocity.

So, how do the assumptions come into play? Imagine receiving a card that says “Flying! The block can fly!”. Does this mean you are allowed to pick it up and throw it, does it mean you can get an airplane, put it on there, fly the plane? Whatever you make of it is your assumption of the rule some other group made. You see others throwing their block around? You assume that’s what you’re supposed to do with the card, you copy.

The game worked, was fun, we ran our asses off and Sylvan nearly broke his neck running through the Kalverstraat, and we had a group of winners. Were the assumptions there? We think they were. Was this the absolute best way to let them know about these assumptions they made? Probably not. But hey, what’s a Learning Lab if there’s no trial and error?

That’s that for now, we’ll be starting on a new game soon enough, keep you posted!

Wieger and Sylvan out.

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