Monthly Archives: May 2020

Leadership’s Like a Game Reflection

Leadership is like a game. Think of a game, any game. I can guarantee that for any game, it possesses opportunities for leadership in some way. Every game has ways that require players to use some kind of leadership trait, even if all a player does a take a simple turn. 

Practically every game involves movement. This is not necessarily physical body movement; this can be moving a piece in a direction or taking turns. Games have momentum. In leadership, it is important to have momentum. For leadership, it is important to have momentum because there needs to be some form of progress. Having progress and momentum helps people move toward achieving a goal.

Teamwork and cooperation are great leadership responsibilities that are present in many games. A game we played in this course, Hanabi, is a great example of how teamwork can be present in games. In Hanabi, players are unable to see their own cards. Players work together and support one another so they can accomplish a common goal. This is how leadership is like a game.

For leadership, there is often a common goal. Many people bring different things to the table. Team members can work together to accomplish a goal. By working together and using each others’ skills, groups of people can better accomplish their goals. For this reason, teamwork is one of the most important and valuable skills in a group, and it is important that leaders recognize the importance of group effort.

Leadership is also like a game in many ways. Leaders need to be able to direct and guide other people. In many games, a person can take a leadership role and help guide themself, their team, or the whole group to success. It is often important that someone steps up to lead others.

Leadership is like a game. A leader is someone who is able to respect others. A leader absorbs input from other people. A leader can guide other people. A leader can communicate. All of these are important things that a leader should be able to do. All of these things can be found in games. For so many reasons, leadership is like a game.

GOTW – Ladies & Gentlemen

Ladies & Gentlemen is a really fun group game that I played in the course, EDL290T, at Miami University. The players in the game are split onto two sides: the ladies and the gentleman. Players select which side they want to be on, and it works best if you have an even number of players. Each player is paired with someone from the other side. The two of them work together to win the game. Although it is one greater game, there are two games being played simultaneously. The players on the gentlemen side flip over tokens attempting to find ones that will bring in the most money. The ladies are unaware of how much money the men are making. While the gentlemen play their game, the ladies go shopping to pick out clothing. After these games, the ladies have to pick something for the gentlemen to buy. This is a really fun game to play, especially since people get very into their character as a lady or a gentleman. I played as a gentleman. The hardest part for me was figuring out how to spend my money as best as I could. I sometimes had to decline purchasing something for my lady so that I could save more money for other things. I think this game relates to leadership because it greatly involves teamwork with a twist. Pairs have to work together without knowing everything about their partner. This encourages people to find alternate ways to communicate. It also encourages people to not just think about themselves. In life, people need to take into account other peoples’ needs to accomplish a common goal. I would recommend this game for a family or friend game night. I think the energy of the game would be great for both of these groups. I really enjoyed this game, and I recommend that you play it!

Game Review: Azul

            I decided to review the board game Azul by Michael Kiesling. This game is for 2-4 players with around a 30-45 minute play time. There are two different versions you can play, and you simply flip your board for the other one. Side A, you have specified places for the color tiles to go while Side B, you have more freedom with where you place the tiles as long as you follow the same pattern of no repeats in columns and no repeats in rows.  The game involves players collecting all of one color of tile from a plate or from the center and placing them into one of five rows on their boards. If the player has too many of one color to the row, the tile “falls” to the bottom of the board where it will have negative points. Once the tiles for the round are gone, all the players see which rows they filled up completely with the colors and move one of the tiles over to their main board in that same row. They add up their points for that round and then continue to play until someone fills up an entire main row or the tile bag becomes empty. Then the players add end of game goal points to their scores which could be filling an entire column or row, or they collected all 5 of one color. The one with the most points wins.

            If I were to rate this game, it would be 5/5 for visuals and 4/5 for game mechanics. To a new eye, this game seems to be very difficult and they may be turned away by it. That is what almost happened when I showed this to a couple of my friends. But once you play through a few rounds and they get the idea of how to add up their points, it becomes easy to understand. The gameplay requires you to have a plan, but then also 5 back up plans after that if someone takes the color from the plate you were eyeing. You also need to keep track of the center of the plates because if no one is choosing a certain color, it may become overpopulated and the poor soul who has the last turn of a round ends up with so many lost points. These may seem like a negative, but I like how much you need to strategize and think ahead. You don’t have to wait around on your turn already knowing what you will do because you tend to constantly have to change your plan of attack. You have the ability to look around at other people’s boards and determine which plate they may be after and you could wreck their plan. It’s not my play style, but I like that the players can choose that strategy if they wish. There are so many different ways to fill the same board and it gives you options. It’s clever and fun. You don’t really know who is going to win until the very end. Even if someone was ahead the entire game, the end of game points could create an upset. You are always on a constant equal playing field with people fighting over tiles and creating bargains with each other. Besides the cool game mechanics, I just love the art for this game. Each tile has a different pattern and the board it just so pleasing to the eye. Everything is very cohesive; nothing looks out of place. For such a simple concept, it is very ornate with many different looking textures in the art on the board. Even the bag for the tiles is decorated. The only thing not decorated in this game is the small black cube used to keep track of your points. I think that is just amazing and deserves credit.

            Pertaining to our class, Tabletop Games and Leadership. I think this game takes a lot of strategic thinking and planning but being able to be flexible. Your plan could disappear within a single second as soon as someone chooses the exact play you were going to make on your next turn. Then you must adapt and find a new plan. I think this could really help teach leadership. Sometimes things don’t go the way you wanted or planned. As a leader, you must reflect on the past and change things to be better in the future based on what you learned. You can have as many plans as you want, but even then, none of them could work. If this happens, you must go in a completely different direction you never thought of before. This changing and adapting can teach so many lessons and open the world to more possibilities. This may be just a game about building up tiles, but on a deeper level, it’s a game about flexible planning.

What Type of Gamer am I?

When I took the assessment, I learned that my motivation profile is low conflict, immersed, and gregarious. I had 4% conflict, 88% social manipulation, 50% strategy, 38% discovery, 22% need to win, 98% immersion, 92% aesthetics, 74% social fun, 89% cooperation, 12% chance, and 50% accessibility. Some of these I am surprised by and others, not so much.

For conflict, I knew that it would be low. As much as I am competitive and want to win, I tend to steer away from these types of games just because I don’t want to talk up a big game and lose. I don’t want to be a sore loser and try to cheer up the rest of the game night. I’ve been going for less conflicting games so I can just brush off a loss and move on. It makes it much more enjoyable just to have a good time and not feel stressed about having to win all the time. For social manipulation, the secondary motivation, I was quite surprised. I am a pretty bad liar, so I have difficulty understanding what makes me drawn to this type of motivation. I think in this case, it’s less about my ability to lie and more about detecting other people’s lies. I do enjoy playing the game Coup and it’s just fun to look at other’s faces and try to tell if their lying. I barely lie in that game and when I do, its me pretending to be ambassador just so I can shuffle through the deck and not have to lie about a role by finding it.

For strategy, I was not surprised about either. I do enjoy strategy games but sometimes I don’t want to be strategizing. It’s just my personal preference at that time and it changes constantly. I do love making smart plays but sometimes I don’t even want to think about something in advance. For one of the secondary motivations, discovery, I’m surprised how low it is. I love playing new games and discovering new game mechanics. There are several different types of games that I have. Why this is so low I can’t understand. Maybe I like the same game too much. For the other motivation, need to win, I am not surprised just like the conflict. This one I know is higher because it is more based on how I play independently and I’m not attacking other people specifically. I do like to win but I don’t want to think about it as much.

For both immersion and aesthetics, they are extremely high, and I agree with these results. I love games with good character, and environment design. I love when the style and aesthetic matches with the game’s theme. A couple examples of this is Root, and The Tea Dragon Society. They are just so cute, and I love their style so much. So even if I’m losing, I get to gush over the cute pictures. I also love backstories and lore and fantasy elements. Games should be an escapism, so I want to go to another world. If I don’t, then what’s the point?

Finally, for social fun, I agree with how high it is. When I pull out a game, it should be because I want to have fun with my friends and come up with new inside jokes and discover more about each other. When my friends and I play Bohnanza, it is always hysterical, and it just makes me laugh and have a good time. It’s pure fun with my friends. For cooperation, I also understand why its so high. I love teams and working with people to win. Its nice to be able to trust someone and not be alone. If we lose, we lose together and that’s not so bad anymore. For chance, I know it is so low just because I don’t like it. Chance just feels like you’re constantly losing a fight and you can’t do anything about it. Even when you win, it’s empty because it was all because of luck. For accessibility, its higher than discovery but I still feel like both should be higher knowing how many different games I love. Traditional games are a little boring now that my friends have introduced me to so many others.

Original Game – Quartet Kings

Quartet Kings by Justice Hubbard and Sam Belkowitz

Introduction:  Quartet Kings is a 4 player strategy game. Players represent rival gangs/factions. Each player begins with 15 movable pieces. Players can use their pieces to remove other players’ pieces from the game by landing on the same space as them. The game is won when a player has a piece on all four corners or is the last player remaining.

Set Up the Game:  Each player draws a player card from oldest to youngest. Each player takes their assigned color pieces and sets them up based on the diagram below.

Components:

  • One game board (12×12 with design)
  • 15 pieces of each color: one labeled 5, two labeled 4, three labeled 3, four labeled 2, and five labeled 1
  • 112 black tiles
  • One six-sided die
  • Four player cards

Basic Rules

  • Take turns clockwise, red goes first
  • Players can only move one piece per turn
  • Pieces move in any direction up to the amount shown on the piece and do not have to move in direct lines
  • Players can remove other players’ pieces from the game by landing on other player’s pieces, movement stops when a piece is removed
  • Players cannot land on black spaces
  • Pieces cannot enter a space occupied by the same color
  • Black tiles cannot be placed on grey spaces
  • Do not place black tiles on the first turn
  • Players cannot use their special ability until they lose a piece

How to take a turn

  1. Use your player card when it says to
  2. Move one piece
  3. Place a black tile on any empty white space

Special Abilities

Red represents fire. Before moving each turn, the red player rolls a die. If the player rolls a 1, 2, or 3, the number rolled equals the burn distance for the turn. After rolling, the player declares which piece is “on fire” for the turn. The piece that is “on fire” is the piece that will be moved. If the piece moves and another player’s piece goes within the burn distance, the other player’s piece is “burnt” and removed from the game. Once the piece burns another piece movement ends and the red player places a black tile. If the player rolls a 4, 5, or 6, no piece is set on fire and the turn is normal. A piece cannot be set on fire in consecutive turns unless there are only 3 or less red pieces remaining in the game.

Dark blue represents water. Dark blue pieces can enter spaces occupied by other dark blue pieces, but cannot land on a space occupied by another dark blue piece.

Light blue represents air. After regular movement, roll the die. If an even number is rolled, divide the number by 2 and move that many additional spaces. If the number rolled is odd, nothing happens.

Green represents earth. At the start of the green player’s turn, the player decides if they will move their own piece or another player’s piece. If the player elects to move their own piece, the turn is regular. Alternatively, the player can instead move any other player’s piece by only space. Green cannot move another player’s piece to a space occupied by green.

Where it started and ended up

This game started as Justice’s idea. It originally only involved pieces moving around on the board, starting in corners, and had the same win conditions. The special abilities were not fully developed yet. Together, we further added to the special abilities, adjusted the game board, added the black tiles, and created a rule book. 

Our Gameplay

After playtesting with friends and family, we have seen smooth gameplay with everyone easily able to understand the basic turn mechanics as well as how to best utilize their powers. One thing we did notice, however, was that Quartet Kings is a slower and strategy-based game, and thus, requires a longer time period to play.

As players were hesitant due to a fear of losing pieces, it took quite a few turns for movement across the board to occur. Players initially began moving pieces defensively and staying near their area. In regard to the placing of the black tiles, we noticed players using them strategically to displace/block opposing players’ pieces.

The special abilities did not get used as much as we hoped. Light blue (move extra spaces) and red (burn other pieces) were excessively used. Dark blue (move through itself) and green (move other players) were not used as much as expected. This led to great advantages for the red and light blue players.

Overall, the people we played with really enjoyed the game. Going forward, more would need to be done so that player abilities are better used and the game is not as long.

Changes to the game 

We want to try/recommend the following changes:

  • 10×10 board with the same design
    • This change would be in an effort to speed up gameplay and movement across the board.
  • In accordance to changing the board size, we would reduce the amount of pieces per player from 15 to 10
  • Adding a labeled grid (similar to battleship) made it easier to know where pieces were being moved to
  • We also are considering the rebalance of powers.
    • Specifically for Green and Dark Blue
    • Green would be able to move other pieces more than originally intended
    • Dark blue could potentially be able to also move through a limited number of black spaces

What we learned about designing a game

Prior to playing the game, we thought we understood how the game would get played. From our gameplay experiences, the strategies used in the game were more defensive than we anticipated. We learned that games do not always get played as intended.

We learned that, while developing and creating a game, we had to come up with solutions to many different gameplay situations, such as creating solutions for potential ties. We had to take into account that unexpected things could happen, so we did our best to create rules that would prevent that from happening.

Leadership in the game

In our gameplay experiences, players learned they could not win on their own. The game utilizes a turn-based mechanic that offers players the ability to either assist or harm each other. Players had to use teamwork to eliminate other players’ pieces. They used each others’ abilities to their advantage.

This game could be used as a leadership resource because it helps people understand the importance of strategy, planning ahead, and working collaboratively and independently.

EDL Game (1).jpg
QuartetKingsGameplay1.png
QuartetKingsGameplay2.png

*Due to limited resources, this used orange instead of black, blue instead of light blue, and purple instead of dark blue

GOTW – Survive: Escape from Atlantis – Belkowitz

During Week 5 of EDL290T, our class played Survive: Escape from Atlantis. Of the games we played in-person, this was probably my favorite game. Atlantis is a well-known city that supposedly sunk into the ocean. In this game, the board is an ocean with land in its four corners. Island tiles are placed in the center of the board and make up an island. Similar to Risk, players take turns placing their pieces throughout the game board. The goal of the game is to get your players from the center island to the land in a corner. As a part of a player’s turn, they remove a piece of the land. Every turn, players have fewer land spaces to move to. There are also creatures with different abilities which makes the game easier or more difficult for players. There are also boats which players can use to help transport their players to land in the corners, instead of slowly swimming. The hardest part of this game was trying to get pieces to the corners. This is a very free-for-all game where all players are out to get each other. Some players were targeted and it was difficult to get around the obstacles created by opponents. I think this relates to leadership because of cooperation, in a way. All players want their pieces to get to land. All players don’t want their opponents pieces to get to land. In my game, people had to learn to cooperate to benefit themselves. In life, people may have different goals, but cooperation can help people get where they want. I would enjoy playing this with my friends and my family. I would suggest people play it with those groups. It is a very fun game which could be used for a game night. I really enjoyed this game and definitely suggest you play it, if you have not.

Representation in Games

As I play many games, board and video games being great examples, I often think to myself, “does this game adequately represent different identities?”. More often than not, I think that games do not adequately represent multiple different identities. This is a problem in many ways.

For the purpose of this assignment, I defined for myself what I thought of different kinds of identities that could be represented. I determined these could be identities such as race, gender, religion, nationality, sexuality, and socioeconomic status, just to name a few. I created a survey that I sent to many people, and I asked them to think about these types of identities as they completed my survey.

The following were some, but not all of the questions, I incorporated in my survey about representation in games:  “When a game allows you to choose a character, how do you select which character? Answers can be things such as you like a certain color, you like the character’s outfit, you relate to a character’s identity, etc…”, “What is most important to you when selecting a character in a game?”, “Does a character’s identity influence your decision to select them?”, and “Do games represent different identities as well as they should?”. I selected my questions based on suggestions from the directions of the assignment, but I also included my own questions which I thought were interesting.

Most of the people involved in my research shared that they believe many games do not adequately represent enough/varying identities on the covers of or within a board or videogame. Nearly all people who shared their thoughts with me shared that a character’s identity does influence their decision to select that character. One female-identifying participant shared that more often than not, she picks a female character over male characters if that option is possible. Based on people’s responses to my questions about relatable identities within games, it is apparent that, in most cases, when it comes to identities such as gender and race, players are more likely to pick a player who shares that identity with them.

It is common knowledge that many games do not adequately use characters of varying identities. Many of my participants recognized this. Many games often use white, male, and straight characters. What I learned in my research is that when a player does not see a great portrayal of their own intersectional identity, they will be less likely to play or buy that game. Additionally, if they do play the game, they are likely to pick whichever character is still most similar to their own identity. So if a white female is playing a game with all male characters, according to my research, she is more likely to pick a white male character, instead of a male character of another race. 

Personally, I am a white male. I think I do often pick characters similar to my own identity. I think many game players do this. Players feel more comfortable with a character they can relate to.  Players are more confident. Alternatively, this is definitely not always the case.

In many games, myself and others do, many times, pick characters who they share few or no identities with. Many participants in my research mentioned this. One participant shared that he typically picks a character similar to him or one that looks cooler. Participants shared that things such as racial and gender identities were not the only things that influenced their decision to select a certain character. Participants shared that their decision to select a character can be influenced by how a character is dressed. People also take into account the stats and abilities of different characters.

In many games, different characters have different abilities or powers. Some of my participants shared that character statistics are sometimes a greater influence when selecting a character than relating to a character’s identity. I believe this shows that identities do not always matter for characters. People like characters with certain abilities and that can influence their character selection decision. This can be followed up with the responses from my question asking if it is important that people see their own identity in characters. 

Half of my participants shared they believe it is important to see the representation of different identities in games, and half of my participants think the representation of different identities is not important in games. This surprised me. I expected a greater percentage of participants to think that representation is important in games. It is very important to me that I see many different identities other than my own in games. As a white male, I almost always see a representation of my identity in games, but I do not always see other identities represented as well in games. Having a diversity of character identities is inclusive. It bothers me when I see games that have only a few or no female characters and little racial diversity, as well as little diversity of other kinds of identities.

Representation in games is so important. A diverse representation of varying identities in games allows players to feel accepted and confidently play games. Representation allows players to relate to characters better, and it allows them to better take on the role of their character. Unfortunately, there are many games that do not represent many different identities well. Fortunately, many games are being updated to include greater representation, and many new games are being created with greater representation. Hopefully, all games will have characters that provide equal game experiences for all people.

https://forms.gle/HvL8W39sUShjLVAj9

Which Mario Character Are You Similar To?

One of the intriguing assignments in Miami University’s course, EDL290T, Tabletop Games and Leadership, is to create an interactive quiz on Buzzfeed. Buzzfeed is a media and entertainment known well for the creative personality quizzes which users can create and publish on the platform. For the course, EDL290T, I created a Buzzfeed quiz involving questions about leadership and characters from Nintendo’s world of Mario. Users can answer five simple questions and see immediate results telling them which character they are most similar to.

The first part of this assignment involved the creation of this quiz. I selected a well-known group of characters from a popular video game series. I determined which characters would allow me to have a variety of results, while still featuring familiar characters. For the quiz, I selected Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach, Yoshi, and Wario. I believe these are recognizable characters that have unique traits.

After selecting which characters to use, I developed ideas for questions. I needed questions that would have an answer leading to each character. I also wanted questions focusing on varying ideas, such as leadership and fun games. I wanted some serious questions to help decipher a person’s personality, but I also wanted some entertaining questions that pertain to the story and characters involved. The questions I came up with asked users things such as which personality traits they thought they had or were important. I also asked questions such as which character a person would want to play as in a Mario game.

After creating questions, I picked answers that would lead to each possible result. I used the Nintendo website to read more about the characters and their personalities. I also took away from my own experiences with these characters from playing games. I created answers that I thought well-represented each possible character result.

At the time of writing, 34 people have sent me their results from the personality quiz. The breakdown of what people got on their first try is as follows:  Luigi, 10; Princess Peach, 10; Mario, 8; Yoshi, 6; Wario, 0. After seeing their first result, some people took the quiz many more times in order to try to get different characters. This resulted in many more Warios and Yoshis. 

I found the results of this to be interesting. I did not expect many people to get Wario, and my prediction was right; 0 people got Wario. I had attached Wario to negative answers that relate to a selfish personality. Mario did as expected, with around a quarter of the results being him. Mario is a strong leader and the main character of nearly all games involving Mario characters. I got Mario when I took the quiz. I think I often take a large leadership role in group activities. I expected Yoshi to have better results. Of the 34 participants, only 6 people got Yoshi on their first try. Yoshi was attached to responses such as companionship and a funny personality. I had not expected Luigi and Princess Peach, who are tied with 10 each, to be at the top of the leaderboard. Luigi was attached to responses involving friendship, cooperation, and determination. Princess Peach was attached to answers involving kindness and supportiveness. All participants agreed with their results, except some who got Princess Peach and Luigi thought they should have gotten Yoshi. 

I think the results are interesting and show more than just what character someone may be similar to. This personality quiz showed me which traits most people identify with when it comes to leadership and group roles. Most people identify with characteristics and personalities that are supportive, like Luigi and Princess Peach. I think this assignment showed me where people fall when it comes to leadership, and I definitely learned which traits people think are the most important.

https://www.buzzfeed.com/belkows/which-mario-character-are-you-95qvukibw0