dyslexia · education · learning disabilities · technology

The rules of game playing

My husband and I love games.   It is a fun way to hang in on a Saturday night and they are one of our favorite parts of going camping.  This year being so busy we haven’t had much time to drag out our Monopoly or Scrabble Board.

Who needs a Scrabble game anymore when you have Words with Friends?  Sadly last camping trip my husband suggested why drag out the game when we could play on our phones.  When you played Scrabble, you had to look at those letters, hope you could form a word you know, and hope no one challenged you.  The game was not just about forming words, but learning the socialization and rules that went along with playing.  How to take the idea that someone may challenge you and how to take the chance to challenge someone else.  Playing well meant learning new words in the dictionary and how to use those q’s without the u’s.  There was also the rule that once the letters were down, that was it, your turn was taken and you could not change them.  With my Words with Friends app, I take occasionally take chances playing letters in different locations, trying to form chance words that have no meaning to me.  There is no challenging if a word is real or not, the game decides that for you. Since you are playing away from your opponent, you can use the dictionary…a big no no in the board game.  The score is kept by the game, so not long sheet of adding points.

Monopoly has always been one of my favorites and I was so delighted to find an app for that!  So recently my husband and I decided to play.  How silly it was sitting on the couch, each with iPad in hand playing the game.  I must admit it was fun to watch the dog pawn run as it moved, and to experience the game with such interaction.  However, once again, the rules were controlled by the device.  There was no money under Free Parking and you didn’t get $400 if you landed directly on Go.  Additionally, there was no banker as the device just calculated for you, so no one had to worry about counting money.  All the money you had and properties you owned were right there on the screen, so no trying to hide that extra $500 or property you were holding to bargain with.

Game playing is a social event and it is also learning to follow rules, with those you are playing with holding you accountable.  With apps and video games, most of that element is taken away.  The rules and regulations are controlled by the game and children do not have to think about what they are to do.  Turn taking is set up for them and scores calculated.  It puts forth for consideration how does this lack of experience effect children.  How can they learn to work within a set of rules that may have consequences if they are not followed?  Watching students at recess is a great example of how kids handle the social aspect of game playing and should be readily observed by teachers to see where is there a teachable moment in relation to this.

Social Skills is a focus for part of the year in one of my classes.  A great way to work on this is playing games…real games.  I find more and more students need direct instruction on skills such as:

  • Setting up a game
  • How to wait their turn
  • Cheating is not acceptable
  • Knowing the rules
  • Handling the rules
  • Calculating the score
  •  Coping when others call you out on not following the rules
I will not give up playing games on my devices I know, and neither will kids.  However, we should not neglect the importance of playing actual games with kids.  There is so much they have to learn from them.

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