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Reading, Writing & Roleplaying
is an upcoming Escapist project devoted to using roleplaying as an
educational tool, both in the classroom and out.
The goal here is to create a home for examples,
methods, and ideas that will inspire anyone interested in teaching
through roleplaying. If you are an educator, game designer, or anyone
else interested in the subject matter and would like to participate,
please contact me at
You can also visit the Reading, Writing, &
Roleplaying discussion group at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/reading_writing_RPG
for updates and discussion on roleplaying and education.
Chupp's Dragonkin podcast includes an episode that
features an interview with David Millians, an educator from Georgia who
has used roleplaying simulations in his classroom for well over a
decade. The 45-minute interview is packed with ideas and inspiration,
and is a must-listen for anyone who is interested in using roleplay
simulation to teach. Visit dragonkin.bearsgrove.com
and look for Episode 5.
JAPANESE "RPG" TEXTBOOKS FROM NAMCO BANDAI AND GAKKO TOSHO -
This story from NetworkWorld about Japanese choose-your-own-adventure textbooks hit my inbox yesterday:
news outfit Asahi reports that Namco Bandai -- the Japanese
role-playing game powerhouse behind the Tales series -- and textbook
publisher Gakko Tosho have a partnership to produce textbooks laced
with JRPG elements. The new textbooks in development for math, science,
and language arts will hit classrooms as early as next spring.
Because Namco Bandai is
behind it, most people will connect this with video games - but it's
much more like a tabletop RPG than anything else, and with a carefully
planned format and teacher's guide, there wouldn't be any real concerns
over students "cheating" the game. There are a lot of cues that could
be taken from existing RPGs that would expand and improve upon this
It sounds like Namco Bandai is layering a choose-your-own
adventure into the basic work/textbooks most students use in elementary
school. Students follow an RPG storyline by, say, solving math problems
and each right answer nets them a key. Scoring enough keys wins the
student some kind of prize -- but it's not clear if the prize is
contained within the book or something physical the teacher
distributes. It could be pretty entertaining edutainment if it's not
too easy to cheat the game like you can with most choose-your-own
This could be an incredible
teaching tool that inspires kids to learn through roleplaying. It would
be really nice to see Wizards of the Coast attempt something like this
here in the US.
Of course, we wouldn't have to wait around for WotC, would we? Pretty much anyone could take the initiative on something like this... (nudge, nudge)
- Since school has (mostly) begun again
here in the United States, I've been putting out the call on Twitter
and on the Escapist
for information from anyone who is running (or planning to run) RPGs
for kids at schools or libraries.
My plan (as always) is to gather stories, experiences, tips, and advice
that others can use if they want to organize such a program - and to
give a bit of a nudge to those who have been thinking about it and just
need a little push to get it started.
I received the following email from Dan (who, for privacy reasons, has
asked that I not name the school where he works):
I am the
Network Administrator at a New England private high school. Last year,
I ran a D&D game every other week. Almost all new players, a
freshmen and seniors. We played 4th edition, and started on Keep
on the Shadowfell.
We had about 6 regular players. The only issues we ran into were of a
scheduling variety, as the underclassmen don't have a lot of
unstructured time, and we don't quite get a 4 hour session, which leads
me to the second problem. KotS was too long an
adventure for an every other week 3 1/2-4 hr session game to fit
comfortably in a school year.
also received an email a little while ago from Eric Basir, who ran the Marvel
RPG for a small group of kids as an after-school role-playing club at a
parochial school in Illinois. His description of it is too perfect not
If there is interest I intend on trying to make this a tradition, with
a couple of changes.
1. Modules designed for 4-hours. Either delve format or more likely
living forgotten realms.
2. One module/session
3. Entertaining the possibility of opening up the game to other
4. Limiting participation to Juniors & Seniors (Grandfathering
the sophomores from last year though)
Things that I learned:
1. D&D 4 is very accessible, to non tabletop gamers (the kids
were geeks however)
2. Human Fighters aren't the 'safe' newbie class anymore
3. Explaining power sources and roles are very important to a new
player matching up to a class that 'clicks' enough that they're easy to
learn (related to #2, the human fighter's player had a really tough
time being relevant. After a talk about what she wanted her character
to do, she picked a cleric, and took to her really easily)
4. Was surprised that the players gender-ratio was practically 1:1,
with a slight favoring of girls
5. There was a fair number of kids who wanted to kibitz. This
caused some problems, as they were a distraction to an already too big
group. In the future, I'll probably give them NPC's and monsters to run.
attempt to work with children, teens (and youthful adults) to use their
imaginations to interact with one another in a make-believe environment
with the purpose of promoting good manners, spirituality and righteous
has collected the videos into two playlists - you can watch them here
That's all of the response I've seen so far, and while those are two
excellent testimonies, I want MORE! Are you running any RPGs at schools
or libraries? Share your knowledge and experience with us!
December 30th, 2008 (link
THOMAS INTERVIEW - Rebecca
Thomas, the creative force behind The Roleplay Workshop
in Oakland, California, was gracious and generous enough to answer
my questions about her roleplaying program and
how it benefits young people in both education and socialization.
also shares some insight on the challenges she has faced in turning a
passion for roleplaying and education into a business. Read it here.
- The Associated Press released an article on the
importance of play in education that gives a brief mention to fantasy
Paley, a former kindergarten teacher at the University of Chicago
Laboratory Schools and now an author and consultant, says the most
vital form of play for young children involves fantasy and role-playing
with their peers.
"They're inventing abstract thinking,
before the world tells them what to think," Paley said in her speech to
more here: article
official Reading, Writing & Roleplaying forum.
Writing, & Roleplaying Wiki
at the Escapist Wiki - a wiki that will feature RPG reviews, lesson
plans, and other resources. It is still in the early stages at present,
and needs lots of great content. Contact me if you are interested in
- The website of the Game Manufacturer's Association
has several resources for educators interested in bringing many
different types of games - not only RPGs - into the classroom. You can
find out more at GAMA's Games
In Education page.
also hosts The Origins
International Game Expo, held in Columbus Ohio every
summer, which features a program called the Teacher's
Hall Pass. Educators receive a free 4-day convention pass, which grants
access to hundreds of game dealers (many of whom offer educator
discounts), and game demos of all kinds. Plus, you can relax in the
Teacher's Lounge, talk with other educators attending the convention,
and participate in special game demos that feature an emphasis on
lesson plans and learning goals.
The program is open to teachers at all grade
levels, resource center specialists, school librarians, principals,
college professors, homeschoolers, and public librarians. You can find
out more about the program at www.gama.org/programs/gie
Games and Education - The blog of David Millians, a Georgia teacher who uses RPG and LARP in his classroom to teach history.
Homeschool RPG: Scott
Duncan blogs about contributing to the education of his three
homeschooled daughters through RPGs. His posts are well written and very
enjoyable to read.
to the Past, A roleplaying curriculum pioneered by Barnard
College in New York.
Past” (RTTP) consists of elaborate games, set in the past, in which
students are assigned ro les informed by classic texts in the history
of ideas. Class sessions are run entirely by students; instructors
advise and guide students and grade their oral and written
work. It seeks to draw students into the past, promote
engagement with big ideas, and improve intellectual and academic
Roleplay Workshop, a year-round program in Oakland,
- "An exploration of games in the classroom." This high school English
teacher gives his students a "character sheet" that they fill out as
they achieve different accomplishments in his class. He has a fantasic
blog and podcast that are filled with ideas and examples. Required
reading and listening!
Hard at Play, an article on the educational benefits of Dungeons & Dragons, by Gwendolyn F.M. Kestrel of New Horizons For