Gaming Pedagogy


Certain parties have recently mentioned in passing (not here) that they've run into some trouble learning and teaching board games. This is a fairly common problem when you play games that aren't part of the Shared American Board Game Heritage, be they Cheapass games, Steve Jackson games, or Euro games. The trouble is that you need to learn the rules, but often the rules are complex enough that it would take forever to sit and listen to the rules read out loud. Moreover, manuals are seldom the most lucid way of explaining how to play a game; what works best is to have someone explain the game in natural language, organized in a mannter that makes intuitive sense. The explainer can also use the board and components to give examples of how play works, making the learning process easier. This works best if the explainer has played the game before and thus has a good grasp on the mechanics. But sometimes you're playing a game that's new to everyone; in that case, what works best is to have the designated explainer read through the rules first, figure it out in a way that makes sense to him or her, and then have the explainer bring in everyone else to explain it in his or her own words.

Most of this advice comes from a fantastic article in The Games Journal, The Finer Points of Teaching Rules. The article draws on examples from Euro games, but the points made should be easy to apply outside of that context. Hopefully this will prove helpful in future boardgaming endeavors. Also, let me once again put in a pitch for board games as a fun and engaging social activity. There are small board game shops all over the country, and most will carry a wide selection of games for all age ranges (including adults), number of players, style of gameplay, and expense. Board games are a great way to have fun while socializing, and I'd urge everyone reading to give them a try.


Hmmm... no, I just don't know what you're talking about. Board games don't sound fun. I don't think I'll try any.

Excellent. Hey, Michele? Do you still read this page? If so, I nominate you as the (now better-informed) rules-teacher for the next game night. Ha!

Hmm. Apparently not. Oh well, it was worth a try.

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This page contains a single entry by Zach published on May 31, 2006 1:05 AM.

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