Monthly Archives: April 2019

EDL 290T: Origins, Trailers, and more!

Yesterday something awesome happened that relates to the class and I decided I would blog about it today. I’m glad I didn’t last night, because something new happened today that I also need to share!

Last summer I blogged twice about my experience at Origins Game Fair and how I could relate some of the things to the class. I later blogged about how a connection I made there helped to improve the class.

Bethany and I discussed things earlier this semester and decided we wanted to try something new. We know Origins does educators passes and wants to start doing more educational programming. So we decided to submit a session about how we use board games for leadership. Well, in short…we were selected and if you look in the event grid you can come see Bethany and I presenting at Origins! For us going to one of the largest board game conventions in the world and talking about this little class we created based on a dream is just amazing. The question remains: will anyone care and want to see what we have done based on a NASAGA dream and Bethany forcing it into reality…but just the fact we are part of the program amazes me.

Origins Session

So as I was preparing to write the blog a student from when Aidyn taught a session of the class emailed me. His name is Jeremy Gunsett and he came into class when John and I were teaching to film things about our class for a class project. He created a preview for the class and gave me permission to use it to promote the class! So…in addition to the awesome news about Origins, I can also now present a video showing what EDL 290T is like! The video showcases the game demo day where students last semester were showing the games they created for the class and letting others play them. Jeremy did an excellent job of capturing exactly what makes this class such a special experiment. Check it out!

Too many people I could thank that keeps the train rolling on this class but thank you to everyone who continues to make this class a reality!

Betrayal at House on the Hill

Betrayal at House on the Hill is a game that I have played many times over the past several years, and keep coming back to due to its massive creativity. It feels completely unlike any game I’ve ever played before, which is both a positive and a negative. The nature of starting as a team and slowly exploring a deeply atmospheric haunted house before one player betraying the rest of their party is fascinating and unique, however this makes it difficult to explain to new players exactly what is going to happen and how that looks. This is especially detrimental for any players new to the game, or tabletop gaming in general.

The rules attempt to explain what is going to happen, however having three separate rulebooks is daunting for any group of first time gamers, especially because (in Wizards of the Coast fashion) the rules are not strict, and allow room for interpretation based on their wording. This, I believe, is the most difficult part of Betrayal at House on the Hill, as during our gaming session several moments were consumed by checking the rulebooks rather than getting immersed in the atmosphere and gameplay.

Another hurdle for this game is how finely it straddles the line between RPG and strategy game. If, as was the case at my table, some participants wish to roleplay their way through the game and others want to only make the strategically best decisions, friction can be caused between the two groups, as it is hard to maintain both philosophies to their fullest potential. This often manifests as the roleplayers eventually giving into the “quarterbacks” as soon as the Haunt begins, as that’s where all of the mechanical elements come most into play. This however, is an opportunity to practice leadership by finding the healthy balance in the middle of these two camps, thin as that line is in this game.

The leadership practice of balancing group interests is more effectively handled in another Wizards of the Coast product, Dungeons and Dragons. Within the rules of DnD, it is possible to fit roleplay elements into mechanic-heavy combat encounters by allowing your character to make strategically detrimental decisions that won’t affect the party as a whole as much as your individual character. This allows for a more individual stance to be taken towards the game that, as long as it is not taken to any extreme, allows everyone to participate and appreciate the game in their own manner.

I believe, however, that Betrayal at House on the Hill overcomes all of these hurdles by being such a unique concept and by establishing such an engrossing environment through its writing. It is a game that could, and should be played by anyone, especially those who value tight mechanics with an engrossing narrative like the players I run RPGs for such as Jae, Noah, Ben, Stephen, and several others.