Author Archives: belkows

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.

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.

What Type of Gamer Am I?

For the course, EDL290T, I took an assessment. This assessment analyzed my opinions about different kinds of games. This assessment took into consideration what makes me interested in a game. This involved myself answering prompts about how things such as design, theme, goal, gameplay, and more affect my interest in a game.

            The results of this assessment indicate that I prefer games that involve Conflict and Social Manipulation the most when compared with games involving characteristics such as Strategy, Aesthetics, Social Fun, and others. The following are my results for each of the eight categories in order of the lowest to the highest percentage match, and the number designates to what percent I fit into the category:  Immersion, 12%; Discovery, 14%; Cooperation, 20%; Aesthetics, 22%; Social Fun, 27%; Strategy, 38%; Conflict, 68%; and Social Manipulation, 74%.

            I think these results are interesting. I would agree with many of my results. Things like Aesthetics (22%) are not very important to me in games. While Aesthetics are nice and make a game more appealing, a game does not need to have superb Aesthetics for me to enjoy it. On the higher end, I would also agree about my Social Manipulation percentile (74%). I really enjoy games that involve independent thinking and forcing players to think about how they can outsmart and overcome other players. My favorite game is The Resistance, which I feel falls into this category of having to outsmart other players. I was surprised that my score for Strategy, 38%, was as low as it is. I would have expected myself to get a higher percentile. Similar to Social Manipulation, I enjoy games that force me to think about the gameplay.

           I appreciate that this website was brought to my attention. I think it is really cool how this website analyzed my preferences for games. I would say that overall, and for the most part, this assessment accurately portrays who I am as a gamer! Try taking the assessment for yourself! Here is the website!

Life-Sized Clue Game

By Sam Belkowitz


Someone ate the last piece of cake in your household. It is your job to find clues and discover who the culprit is!


  • Potential evidence: fork, plate, knife, glass of milk
  • Notebooks for each player
  • Dice for every player
  • Cards with each player, room, and possible evidence

This edition uses Mom, Dad, Oldest Sister, Next Oldest Sister, Myself, Fork, Knife, Plate, Glass of Milk, Family Room, Kitchen, Main Bathroom, Basement, Dining Room, Living Room, the Study, and the Porch.


Place the pieces of evidence in different rooms in the house. Randomly select a card from each of the three categories (who, what, and where) and place on the kitchen table. Shuffle the remaining cards and distribute them to each player. In your notebook, cross out your cards. Mom always goes first, continue from oldest to youngest.


Each player starts in their bedroom. Roll two dice. Take the amount of steps you roll. When you are in a room, you can make a claim for what happened to the cake. Guess the room you are in, the player you think ate the cake, and what they ate the cake with. The player who goes after you will inform you if any of their cards match your accusation. If they have a card that matches, they show only one, and the accuser crosses the card off of their list. If the next player does not have that card, the accusation moves to the next player, and so on. If a player has a card that matches part of your suspicion, then you know what is on that card was not involved in the crime.


If a player believes they know the details of the crime, they need to go to the kitchen table. If their accusation matches the cards on the table, they win. If they do not win, gameplay continues until someone wins. The player that incorrectly guessed cannot win.


Contact Sam Belkowitz with questions and comments

GOTW – Mysterium – Belkowitz

During the fourth week of EDL290T, our class played Mysterium. Mysterium is a game where players work cooperatively to determine how someone was murdered. One player plays the role of a ghost and does not speak. The other players attempt to solve the mystery. The ghost is able to see a board that has each player on it. The board tells the ghost information such as what weapon was used, or which location is involved. The other players cannot see this board. Every round, the ghost gives cards to the players. The ghost is supposed to give cards that hint toward what a player needs to guess. Players work together to determine what the ghost is trying to tell them. That is the hardest part of the game. It is sometimes very difficult to figure out what the ghost wants the players to do. Sometimes the cards are very unclear, which makes it difficult to figure out what the ghost is trying to communicate. Players have to work together and communicate to accomplish a common goal. Players all want to figure out the information about the murder. Teamwork is a very important leadership skill, and it comes into play in this game. It is very important that the players all work together. I think this would be a fun family game. Family members would have to work together to solve the mystery, and I think having one player as a silent player would make the game fun for a family. This is a very interesting game, and it was fun to play.

GOTW – Betrayal at House on the Hill – Belkowitz

Hello! For Week 3 of EDL290T, our class played Betrayal at House on the Hill. To quickly compare it to another game, I would say it is similar to the board game Clue. The game begins with players cooperatively working together. On their turn, players are able to move around the house. As players move, they open up more rooms and expand the house. At a random point in the game, a player unlocks an omen. The player then betrays the rest of the players and attempts to defeat them. Each player has their own statistics, which is how their amount of life is determined. All other players have to work together to defeat the player who betrayed them all. There are many different scenarios for this game, which complicates the game. One of the most difficult parts of the game can be trying to defeat the person who betrayed the others, but the most difficult part can also be trying to defeat all players as the betrayer. The difficulty really varies based on what scenario is happening. Some scenarios are much easier for some roles than others. I think there is leadership involved in the game. For the game that my group played, we worked together to defeat the traitor. We looked at each other’s statistics to develop strategies so we could defeat the betrayer. This worked well for us. For leadership, it is important to recognize that many people have different strengths. It is important to use everyone’s strengths to achieve a common goal. Because of that, I think this would be a good game to play with colleagues or coworkers. This game would give people an opportunity to practice working together and thinking about other people’s strengths and limitations. I enjoyed this game, and I recommend it to anyone who has not played it!

GOTW – Ultimate Werewolf – Belkowitz

Hello! In the first week of EDL 290T, the class played Ultimate Werewolf. In this game, people are assigned roles. During night phases, players are called upon, one role at a time. The player of each role is able to make a decision that influences the game. As the game progresses, those that are werewolves remove players from the game while those who are not werewolves, try to discover who the werewolves are.

This is a game that I was already familiar with, but only had experience playing in a small group of no more than six people. I really enjoyed playing this game with over 20 people. Having a large group of people made it more challenging. One of the most interesting aspects of our group’s game of Ultimate Werewolf was that, for the most part, none of us knew each other! This was the first class meeting. Ultimate Werewolf is a very social game where people need to attempt to read into other peoples’ minds. This was especially tricky by not knowing the other players. People not knowing other people also made individuals uncomfortable and hesitant to actively participate, which made the game even more challenging.

This game provides people with many leadership opportunities, regardless of their role. During the day phases, the villagers try to hunt down the werewolves while the werewolves attempt to blend in. In our game, from the beginning, a few people were very vocal. These people tried to use their roles and their knowledge of other peoples’ roles to help guide others into making decisions that best helped the group. Even if people playing this game know each other, people may be intimidated to speak up due to a fear of becoming a target. Those who spoke up early on acted as leaders by helping others progress in the game and by making others more comfortable to speak up.

I believe this is a great family game, but more than a family game, I think this would be great for coworkers to play. This game would change the roles that people may have in their job hierarchy and would allow people to see from different perspectives. Within work environments, it is important that people are able to understand other peoples’ opinions and collaborate. Ultimate Werewolf is definitely a game that gets people to think critically and work with others. This is a great game which I would recommend to any group of people!

GOTW – Hanabi – Belkowitz

Hi! This past week in EDL 290T, we played two games: Hanabi and Mental Blocks. I am choosing to write about Hanabi. I really enjoyed Hanabi. Hanabi is a card game. Similar to Uno cards, the cards in Hanabi have a color and a number. And similar to Solitaire, the goal of Hanabi is for the players to work together to play the cards of each color in order of lowest to highest. Unlike any other game I know, Hanabi has a specific twist; players cannot see their own cards. In Hanabi, players hold their cards facing away from themselves. Players have to rely on hints from the other players to know which cards they should play.

Being unable to see your own cards is possibly the greatest challenge in Hanabi. Players do not know what cards they have. By using tokens, players can give other players clues that can describe the color or number of specific cards. Only one hint can be given for token, and after use, a token is no longer usable. Players quickly run out of tokens, making it more difficult to know which cards you may be holding. Tokens may be regained if a player discards a card. What is difficult about that is that you may not know which card you are discarding, and it may be a card that you need to use for the game. Not being able to see your own cards is a great challenge that certainly makes Hanabi stand out among other games.

With Hanabi, I feel that leadership is spread among the group. Players have to collaborate and work together to find the best ways to tell others which cards they should play. Individual leadership can become present in this game. Players are able to help others figure out if they should use hint tokens or discard. When someone plays a card that cannot be played, the players lose one of what could be thought of as their four collective lives. If the group makes four mistakes, the game is over. As the game progresses and more mistakes occur, it is important that players activate leadership responsibilities by better guiding others.

I would recommend this game for a group of friends. I could see this game being played at small get-togethers and parties. I think this could be a fun game where friends have to better communicate with each other. Friends could also add restrictions to this game, such as one player being unable to talk, which would make the game more challenging and more fun. I recommend this game for groups of friends, and I hope to play it with my friends.