The Games

Game selection is challenging and critical to our programming. Luckily for us, the industry is producing one incredible game after another! Our content for the program uses mostly commercial games, rather than education games.

Our students get games. It’s a native language for most of them. Part of the appeal to students to participate in the program is the opportunity to play something new, or at least new to them (“MISS! What are we playing today?!”). Our games do not have to be specifically designed for SEL or any other education topic to work for us. We love what educators and mental health experts are doing with games. We will definitely use some of those games, just not exclusively.

We are learning through our testing that almost any type of game can be played by a group, with the right facilitation. But the content of that game needs to be very engaging for it to work with students. We need games that draw in more than just the student who has the controller. We know that novelty can be a great enticement for any teen, but we are looking for games that do more than entertain. That doesn’t mean we only play serious or emotional games! No, that wouldn’t do at all…

Group play can take many forms: small groups, partnerships, using classroom computers or tablets to play individually before a group discussion. We use additional learning engagement activities that fit each game, strategies to help every student participate as much as they are comfortable, whether they have the controller or not. But the constraints of the group dynamics are part of the point of this format. It mirrors the experience of watching a Let’s Play video online. Some passivity is okay for a lot of our students. They are used to it! For some, that would be just as much fun as playing themselves.

The proper political unit for the 21st century, for the age of acceleration, is not going to be the nation-state…and it’s not going to be the single family…but the healthy community…which moves with the wind, draws energy from it, but creates a platform of dynamic stability within it where people can feel connected, protected, and respected.”

— Thomas Friedman, on On Point podcast