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What Game Designers and Educators can Learn from Each Other feat. Eric Slauson – 116

Episode Overview

  • Episode Topics
    • Board Gaming with Education Holiday Promotion – 0:00
    • Welcome Rodger back to the Show – 1:51
    • Who is Eric Slauson? – 3:11
    • Defining “Game Designer” and “Teacher” – 8:00
    • Game Design and Teaching Overlap – 11:02
    • Entertainment, Edutainment, and Education – 17:16
    • What Can Educators Learn from Game Designers? – 19:58
    • What Can Game Designers Learn from Educators? – 32:23
    • Rodger Rejoins the Conversation – 37:44
    • Dustin, Eric, and Rodger Play Is That for Real a Board Game?! – 48:08

In this week’s episode of Board Gaming with Education, Dustin is joined by co-host Rodger Moore and guest Eric Slauson to talk about game design and teaching. Eric shares his experience as both an educator and a game designer and what he has learned from filling both roles. He talks about his design experience and how that has leaked over into his role as an educator. After Dustin and Eric’s discussion, Dustin and Rodger continue the conversation by looking back on some of the things Eric mentions in the episode.

Games from this Episode [Links include games in our Board Gaming with Education Store or Amazon affiliate links]:

Thank you to Purple Planet Music for the wonderful contribution of their songs “Soul Train” and “Retro Gamer” for our Sponsorship and Interview Segments. These songs can be found in full on this music archive. Also, thank you to Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com) for his creative commons 4.0 contribution of “Getting it Done” for our Game Segment.

Our Facebook Group for Educators: Games-based Learning, Gamification, and Games in Education

You can listen to us on Apple Podcasts (or any other platform you get your podcasts):




Board Gaming with Education Holiday Promotion – 0:00

Be sure to check our site occasionally throughout the dates of 12/7/20 and 12/14/20! Our holiday promotion includes sales on games, a free gift, and store credit for future purchases!


Who is Eric Slauson? – 3:11

Dustin introduces Eric Slauson!

Defining “Game Designer” and “Teacher” – 8:00


Eric defines the two main terms discussed in the episode: “game designer” and “teacher.”

Game Design and Teaching Overlap – 11:02


Entertainment, Edutainment, and Education? – 17:16

Eric talks about the end goal of games as a hobby and games in the classroom. It is very important to consider what and why we are designing a game experience whether in the classroom or as a product of entertainment.

What Can Educators Learn from Game Designers? – 19:58

Eric talks about the importance of received and evaluating feedback. He encourages you to write everything down, even if you do not think it is constructive feedback. He goes on to say that feedback always comes from somewhere and there is value to understanding where the feedback is coming from.  


What Can Game Designers Learn from Educators? – 32:23

Thinking about how your players will feel when playing a game is something that is crucial for a strong player experience.  


Rodger Rejoins the Conversation – 37:44

Rodger rejoins the conversation with Dustin and they chat about some of the insights that Eric had to share.  


Dustin, Eric, and Rodger Play Is That for Real a Board Game?! – 48:08

Dustin, Clayton, and Rich play Is That for Real a Board Game?!


Check out both MonsDRAWsity and Nerd Words: Science in our Board Game Store!


Transcript of “What Game Designers and Educators can Learn from Each Other feat. Eric Slauson – 116”

Transcript automated and provided by otter.ai. [Using this link helps us continue to use this transcription service for future episodes.] Disclaimer: This is an automated transcript and may have errors in grammar, wording, and/or word choice.

Dustin Staats 0:00
Hello and welcome to another episode of Board Gaming with Education we have a topical based episode today. That means we really look at one specific topic and I’m really excited for this topic because we look at game designers and educators slash facilitators and what they can learn from each other. So I’m thrilled to be joined by Eric slawson today, he’s designed a couple games that we have on our site, monstrosity and nerd words. And I’m joined by the co host of this episode today, Roger Moore. And before we get into the episode, be sure to check out our website Board Gaming with Education comm, you can find Eric’s games, both monstrosity and nerd words on our site as well as others on sale for our holiday promotion starting December 8. So this will be the last chance to get those games before Christmas. So we have a lot of great stuff in the store Board Gaming with Education calm, we’re going to have a lot of different sales and different games as well as any purchase over $35 you get a bonus game for free. And the game is Christmas lights, the card game, it’s sponsored by 25th century games, really great publisher who’s definitely worth checking out as well as some store credit. That’s another thing we’re doing this next week, if you spend over $35, you’ll receive some store credit to our store, based on different levels of your purchase. So, again, check out our site Board Gaming with education.com. Alright, let’s get to the show.

Board Gaming with Education 1:23
Board Gaming with Education, a podcast for anyone curious about how games and education mix. We explore various topics like game based learning gamification, and board games and the impacts they have on learning. here’s your host, Dustin Staats.

Dustin Staats 1:41
All right, so I want to welcome back Roger for our topical discussion. And today we are chatting with Eric. But first Welcome back to the show. Roger.

Rodger Moore 1:51
Yeah. Thanks for having me back. Dustin. Always fun to be back here.

Dustin Staats 1:55
Yeah, so I’m excited to follow up the conversation between Eric and I with you and talk about some things we chatted about. Eric is an edtech specialist. And he recently started this role I want to say this last school year. Don’t quote me on that, listen to the episode and find out the answer to that he’ll share share when he started his position at as an ed tech specialist. And he had been teaching English language arts before that. So he talks about some things that either as a game designer you can learn from educators or facilitators. And so if you’re thinking about designing a game with some sort of learning component to it, be sure to stick around for that. Or if you are a educator, he talks about some things that he learns, or he learned as a game designer that carried over into his education practice. Don’t mix that in well listen in. And then stay tuned. Roger will will follow up after the conversation. So today, I am joined for a topical episode based on Game Design and teaching. So we’re looking at a game designer and teacher and what they can learn from each other and more broadly, maybe an educator what we can learn from each other.

And I’m here with Eric Clawson. He is a game designer and Ed Tech specialist. He started doing edtech last year and has been teaching and was an English teacher previously. He’s also the designer of games like nerd words, which I am thrilled to be carrying that game in our store. That was our first game that we added to our store in mondrall City and tattoo story. So I’m excited to be joined by Eric. Eric, would you mind introducing yourself a little bit more in sharing a little bit more with your with our audience?

Eric Slauson 3:40
Sure. Yeah. I’m Eric slawson, I’m a card and board game designer. Most of what I make is party games or social games, I do some other things in the background, with game development, writing for board games, like rule books and stories for you know, RPGs and those sorts of things. As Dustin was saying, My for the past couple years have been at ed tech specialist. I work in a high school, helping the teachers integrate technology into their lessons, and helping them design lessons that kind of leverage these new tools that are coming out all the time. And then before that, I was an English teacher, a middle school English teacher. So she’s been been teaching for, you know, a while been game designing for about half of that time. And you know, there’s

Dustin Staats 4:28
definitely some some overlap between the two worlds. I’m excited to dive into this topic. And I know, I want to really reach in and ask you about your experience in game design, because one of the games that we have in our story, Guineans, nerd words, and I think it’s a really great classroom tool, too. So I’m excited to hear about your experience as a teacher, and how that plays into your practice and game design.

Eric Slauson 4:56
Yeah, I am, you know, a lot of the games that I that I have Made in some capacity or either sparked by, you know, something that I thought would be helpful for my students or a skill that I saw my students struggling with, or, you know, some of the games I even tested with my students, you know, once I kind of had the idea, they got the first, you know, the rough version of it, but yeah, even, you know, a game like tattoo stories, you know, when I was designing it, I was I was teaching sixth graders, and sixth graders don’t get tattoos, so it’s not for them. But the part of the inspiration, and the design is about kind of celebrating creativity about taking chances taking risks, players are thrown into the situation where they only have three minutes to design a tattoo from scratch, you’re not allowed to erase your, you know, you’re really just trying to draw this mishmash design, and then you have to share it with everybody. And, you know, that kind of came out of, as a teacher, especially an English teacher, a lot of times, you’re asking students to do things that are really uncomfortable, you know, they’re, they’re writing about their own feelings, or memories, or they’re, you know, making art really, you know, when you’re writing a story or a poem, or even an essay, and then they either have to share it with me, or they have to read it in front of the class, if it’s a speech. So you know, it’s something that even adults have a big fear of sharing their, their art, or sharing their thoughts. So I wanted to kind of gamify that a little bit, put it in a silly, a silly context of you know, tattooing somebody on the on the fly. And, you know, working with with dry erase markers and getting my my students to, to play it, it kind of near the students who were scared to write a POM hat, were immediately able to draw a silly picture and kind of pitch it to pitch it to me or the class, you know, whereas they, they had a hard time, you know, doing a persuasive speech, which is the same thing. So, you know, it’s kind of just recontextualizing some of those those skills that that people struggle with,

Dustin Staats 7:09
yeah, that’s super awesome, it’s able to your students are able to build those confidence skills in a lower risk setting right through the game. And then that can transfer over to real life projects that they have to work on, like you said, maybe delivering a speech or poem in front of class. So I know when I’ve kind of looked into design games, and I’ve designed some games, either for a classroom experience through targeted learning outcomes, or I’ve done some as a as for fun as a hobby. And my designs are pretty awful. So I’m really excited to kind of have you on and chat about this, because we’ve had game designers on the show, we’ve had teachers on the show, and we’ve kind of shared a little bit about how like, those two things overlap, but we really haven’t dived into this topic. So in your own words, what would you say is a game designer? And what would you say as an educator? Ooh,

Eric Slauson 8:00
this is big questions. So to me, a game designer is somebody who creates a system that encourages and scaffolds play now, and encouraging and the scaffolding part is really where the nuance comes from that and the systems that’s where, you know, your rulebook and your points and your rules and all that kind of stuff, controls the experience for the players, you know, if you’re allowing players to attack each other is going to be a different type of play, than you know, a cooperative experience where everybody is trying to work together to defeat a monster or something like that. So yeah, you’re kind of you’re you’re building this, this experience or this environment, and, and tweaking the the minute aspects of it to really make a fun experience. A teacher is somebody who builds a skill and someone else and you know, we have a lot of things in our in our toolbox as teachers to do that. as a, as a game designer, I have a lot of what we call mechanics that I can play with, you know, whether it’s drafting or pan management, Tableau building, I have all these different types of games that I can work with. And as a teacher, I have you know, formative assessments, I have a one on one conferencing, I have small group, you know, they each of them has these these toolboxes, but for both, it’s really your end goal is to provide a an experience that that either players or students get something out of, for me as a designer, I want you to have a positive memory a positive play experience. You know, a laugh, or in the case of nerd word science, maybe you learn some new words, and you feel clever. For a teacher obviously, it’s the content that You’re trying to get the students to to walk away from your your lesson with that. Also, you have that emotional piece in there as well with your, your classroom community. So, yeah, it’s kind of different. But, uh, yeah, both involve, you know, really using your, your toolkit to, to great effect,

Dustin Staats 10:24
right, I think those defining those two things is a tall order, it’s really hard. And it’s, it’s different for every person. So just curious to hear what what you had thought they were, and I really loved your use of the word scaffolds, and encourages as a game designer, because you can use those two words in the definition of a teacher to write short, we are scaffolding learning, and we are encouraging learning. So I think that’s, I mean, we already kind of just the first sentence we showed some overlap between between the two. Yeah, I’ve

Eric Slauson 10:55
definitely got some, some teaching vocabulary rattling around.

Dustin Staats 11:02
So for you personally, do you have any examples of maybe a time that like, game design has overlapped with your teaching, or where, or teaching as overlap with your game design? Yeah.

Eric Slauson 11:13
You know, aside from, you know, what I was, was mentioning about having this this toolkit and figuring things out, there’s a lot of, there’s a lot of social emotional intelligence and thought that you have to put into it to do both. In a classroom, you know, you’ve got all kinds of different personalities and abilities and all kinds of stuff, you really have to differentiate your, your lessons or your your delivery, or even the way you interact with students one on one. And as a designer, you know, well, depending on the game, if you’re making a very niche product or something for a very specific audience, then you really kind of have to hone in to that type of person. But if you’re making, you know, what’s called a mass market game, a game that you want 1000s and 1000s, and 1000s and 1000s of people to buy, then you’re really trying to get that common denominator that that you know, something for everybody approach. So thinking about what people enjoy thinking about the the emotions, people will feel goes into the experience, a one of the things that is, is interesting is that as a, as a teacher, my forever foray into the edtech side, got me more into kind of the flipped classroom model or individual, personalized learning or individualized education where students have a lot more control over what they’re doing, they’re doing independent learning, they’re doing, you know, like genius hour, they’re going off and doing their own thing. And that was a big kind of mental shift for me from, you know, standing at the front of the class and giving a whole, you know, lecture and kind of having control over over everything. And being a game designer, really dials that anxiety up to 11. Because I’m not there in your living room, you know, with you, when you’re playing the game, I have to read all of my, the way I write my rules, the way the cards, look, I have to design it so that it’s great. Even if I’m not there, you know. And so doing that, as a designer really helped me Let go a little bit as a teacher, and really get more comfortable front loading my lessons. So that, you know, I wrote the directions well enough that I could send you off on small group or individual or whatever, and be confident that your you know, educational experience is good, even if I’m not holding your hand, basically. So one thing that I always that is a little bit easier as a game designer than then as a teacher is they’re both iterative. And by that I mean you You’re always kind of changing and improving and growing your design. And as a teacher, you’re you’re you’re growing your teaching practice and your your lessons, you know, most of us the way that you teach the lesson is tweaked, you know, either class by class, like, you know, first block, you’re like, Well, that didn’t work. Let’s see, I gotta, I got to change the way that I say that the kids didn’t understand it last time. So or they didn’t laugh at that example. So I’m going to, you know, I’m going to cut it, cut it out of, you know, the next block. And you kind of think about it year to year, you know, okay, I remember last year that rubric was terrible. The kids didn’t understand the rubrics, and I need to rewrite the rubric. What is easier about game design is that in playtesting, you know, I it’s it’s a lot lower stakes, you know, I, I can play a game, Deus and we can play a two player game and it’s just like, terrible. Then I can say like, oh, okay, all right. So let’s tweak this, you know, let’s meet again next week. Yeah, let’s play it again. Oh, that’s better. Oh, that’s worse so we can just keep playing it over and over again. As a teacher, a lot of the anxiety for me always came from like, you really have like, one chance to get Get it right, you know, for the year like, you know, we’re gonna do the short story in it or whatever. And then if that like bombs, then sometimes it feels like you don’t have time to like redo the short story and you know, you have to wait until next year to like, try again and tweak things. So iteration and, and rules writing and front loading things is probably the biggest similarities.

Dustin Staats 15:26
Yeah, you made some really good points I think I want to go back to a couple is one, the most interesting for me to hear is how you were able to take that experience as a game designer and front loading and sending off the rulebook, you know, to someone to play, then you package up the game and you send it off to him to play and you kind of step back, right. And as a teacher, we’re always receiving that feedback from students to kind of maybe adjust certain things in our classroom. But sometimes as a teacher, maybe we could be overbearing, we got to step back and let our students stumbled through things and learn themselves. I know, at least in my experience, I think that’s something I definitely could work on. As far as language teaching. That was something that I think I got a little bit better later on in my teaching career recently, More more recently, to be able to, to kind of step back and let students kind of fiddle around and figure it out themselves. Because I think that’s part of the learning process, too. Another thing you had mentioned is having front loading and giving students directions and being confident that they’d be able to carry out those instructions. And one thing that teachers are always thinking about, I think, as a game designer, always thinking about too is what kind of background experience the players have, and what kind of background and experience our students have, right, and what they’re bringing to the classroom and what they’re bringing to the game. You can’t expect someone to play a game that’s made to be mass marketed. That’s something like, I don’t know, one that comes to mind all the time is food chain magnate.

Eric Slauson 17:06
Super Game. Yeah. Right.

Dustin Staats 17:09
And so you’re thinking about those things as a game designer, and as a teacher, that that experience in the background that players and students bring.

Eric Slauson 17:16
Yeah, and interesting, different. So this is a, you know, where we’re teaching is funny, sometimes, like you add some, some capacity, you know, make a game is a little bit a little bit easier, because like, offensively, you bought the game, because you wanted to, it looked good, you know, and you, you wanted to play it, you’re at the box, or somebody told you it was good, like, it wasn’t Nobody forced you to get it. Whereas, you know, the kids don’t really choose to go to school, you know, you have that kind of uphill battle. So, you know, all I had to do as a designer is not mess it up, you know, like I have to, I have to keep that momentum going. Assuming that you’re you know, you want to play the game, my goal is to like make the game actually satisfy those expectations. Whereas as a teacher, a lot of times we have that, you know, you know, it’s it’s seven o’clock in the morning, eight o’clock in the morning, nobody wants to be there, like, you know, you really have to, like go uphill to, to get them engaged and to make them to want to be in class, but the way that you do that, through engagement through kind of these emotional moments, through, you know, just the different things that you do in your class, are the same kind of tools that I use as a designer, you know, a lot of my games, like I said, are social games and party games. And the one of the things that I find interesting about those is the the social interaction, that the fun, a lot of the fun comes from the jokes that you’re making with each other. And you know, that the interplay between the players and as a teacher, that’s something a lot of us do is like, turn and talk to your neighbor, or, you know, it’s like a very easy thing to inject some energy you know, as if you you ever want the volume level to increase like 20 times just say turn and talk to your neighbor and then the classroom like explodes with the kids talking either on topic or off topic, but it’s, it’s a great way to to inject some of that that energy and and personality and warmth into your into your classroom. So yeah, keep some of that stuff in mind as I’m designing because both of them you’re you’re you’re selling a product, you know, you’re your product as a teacher is that the content and you’re really trying to get the kids to understand why they need to know it and, you know, trying to kind of make it interesting and make it easy, easy to digest. And as a designer, you know, my product is my my game and I’m trying to make it easy to understand. I’m trying to make you understand why you want to play again, you know, it’s it’s salesmanship

Dustin Staats 19:58
right? We’re all sale? Yeah, that’s pretty amazing everything. So what would you say that someone as a teacher that has no experience game designing? Maybe? Or maybe they know a little bit about games? What would you think they can learn from a game designer? Or where would you suggest them start? Oh,

Eric Slauson 20:19
man, um, talks about iteration, a big part of iteration is being okay, failing and be okay, taking feedback, I would say that’s a really, really, really big thing that I unfortunately didn’t start doing until, you know, my seventh or eighth year into teaching was really being intentional about giving my opera my students opportunities to give me feedback. as a, as a game designer, I used the term play test earlier. And that’s basically, you know, you get a bunch of strangers or friends together and you, you play like, the, you know, printer version, or, you know, it’s written on post it notes and index cards, and you know, all that kind of stuff, it’s like the, the homemade version of your game, and then they, they try to break it, they try to find where the rules don’t make sense. And, as a designer, you get used to very quickly, kind of stepping back writing down the things that are obviously broken, writing down the moments that aren’t fun, allowing people to be honest, and and not kind of taking it personally. Because in the end, the negative things are saying are good, because they are ways for you to make the game better. And as a teacher, like I said, kind of my seventh year in eighth year in, I started giving surveys at the ends of units or at the ends of, you know, tests or whatever, to my students, they were kind of anonymous surveys, and I would ask things like, you know, what was really annoying about this, this test? Or, you know, do you feel like you had enough time to study during this unit? Or what would have been more helpful, you know, during this unit, it says, you know, it was anonymous had a lot of really good feedback, where, you know, the kids were like, there were, there doesn’t need to be 30 questions, you know, either we know it, or we don’t give us 15 questions, we have more time to do other stuff during class and or, you know, it really makes me nervous when you’re walking around the classroom, you know, up and down the aisles. Yeah, this does this little things like that. And so either it’s things that you can tweak, like, yeah, there’s why not have 20 questions to set 30 questions, or it’s things that I know that I need to address with the whole class, you know, because if the whole if three or four or five kids are like, I didn’t understand this question on the on the test, then maybe that’s a bad question. Or, you know, if they’re all really uncomfortable, the way that I’m walking around the classroom, is there another way that I can I can, you know, structure that that management, or is there a way that I can explain to them why I do that, you know, so that they, they know, I’m not like, I don’t know, a prison guard, it’s just, it’s more so that I can like, you know, make sure that everybody’s having a fair chance to take the test, and nobody’s taking advantage of each other, and those sorts of things. So, I’m really looking for opportunities to, to gather that feedback from students, and, and thinking about ways that you can tweak your practice with that, like I say, we do it. I think informally, a lot of teachers, if you have multiple periods, or multiple blocks of the same class, you try to explain something and first block and then kind of in the back of your mind, you’re, you’re making mental notes of like, Oh, they really seem to like that example, oh, they really, you know, they really didn’t understand question number two, when we did the practice, or whatever. And then the next group of kids come in, and you make sure to use that same example that worked, you make sure to explain question two in a different way to see if they understand it better. And, you know, you just you’re building that over the course of the day. But I would encourage teachers to take that iterative mindset and that feedback mindset and apply it to your your classroom in general, you never know, unless you ask, and it also helps them know that you’re listening to them, and that they that their experience matters to you, and that they’re not being taught kind of at that you’re kind of mindful of what their their needs are, and, and on some level what their wants are.

Dustin Staats 24:29
Right, I think you make an important point is one. I mean, maybe the most important point, at least in my opinion, is feedback from students. Right. I think that’s the key to our instruction and making it better. That’s one thing that I had done giving feedback to my students and we always do a pre semester mid semester and post semester survey. And it really helped me create a better semester for future students. I wonder, I want to challenge you This as far as how you decide what feedback to take, and what feedback to not take?

Eric Slauson 25:07
That’s a really good, really good question. Yeah, so that’s a big thing as a as a designer, also, that you that you learn to write down everything. And then you kind of have to parse what is good feedback, and what is actually something you should try. Or what is like, you know, somebody, everything, all the feedback comes from somewhere, you know, nobody is just for the most part, saying random stuff, it comes from either a misunderstanding, or it comes from some personal bias they have or something like that. And it’s, it’s all important. It’s just how important is it? So for example, if I’m, you know, if I’m designing a party game, you know, something like nerd Ward science. And players are like, Oh, I want the ability to, you know, a player in a play test is like, I don’t, I don’t really like that, you know, if this is this is all about science words, I think it should be about all kinds of different words, and, and whatever, then, I can, like, write that down as feedback. But that’s not the game that I’m trying to make. So it’s not incredibly useful to me. Yes, specifically called nerd word science. But what I can gather from that is like, oh, maybe there’s a potential to have different versions of this, maybe I should look into doing or words history, or words math or whatever. Because that person, what they’re saying is they want variety. And I can kind of dig into Okay, why did you? What was the anxiety that that made you say that was it because the the words were too hard, and you didn’t feel like you knew the words. And that kind of feedback. If you play nerve word science is kind of some of the reason that there’s three words on every card, and not all of them are strictly science space, some of them like, you know, whatever friction is a science word, but everybody knows what friction is, you know, it’s not something that’s really esoteric, came from that feedback. So I was able on one side to be like, well, they’re all going to be science words. But at the same time, say, like, okay, but they don’t all have to be super, super nerdy science words, as a teacher, obviously, depending on your, your age group, either kids, if you’re teaching adolescence, or if you have kids, they think they know everything. But, you know, you’re trying to still figure out why they’re saying what they’re saying, you know, if it’s, if they’re saying something like, I hate homework, you know, on one level, you know, why? Because, you know, homework is not fine, you know. But there might also be some other reason there might be a lot of students, you know, take care of their siblings at home, they don’t have time for homework, and it’s just an additional stress on them. It might be that the kid automatically understands things. And so homework really is just busy work. It’s just them doing 10 problems that they already know how to do. There’s no, there’s no challenge. There’s no it’s like folding laundry, or dishes, like a thing that they’re automatically doing, you know, so it’s, it’s really thinking about, okay, why are they all saying this, and like I said earlier, it might be something that you, you can change. Like the way you structure your homework, or whether you’re assigning homework at all, or you’re shifting to in class formative assessments. Or it can be something that is a problem of, of delivery, or understanding, you know, and if you take the time to talk to your, your students and say, Here’s why I give homework the way I do, or here’s, you know, why I, you know, here’s why we always have a pretest and a post test or whatever. Then I found that the students, I didn’t get as many complaints after that, they were like, Oh, yeah, that makes sense. You know, sometimes students just don’t understand it feels like you’re just doing things to be mean. Or, you know, because I said, so reasons. And, you know, honestly, a lot of times you are, you know, if you really think about it, you just, you know, sometime a years and years and years ago, you’re like, I’m gonna set the desk in rows, and you just always did because, you know, and if a student’s like, I wish I could sit next to my friend or I wish we could sit in groups, like, Miss so and so’s class or whatever. You know, at first you have that, like, defensive thing, like, you know, I’m not gonna send my groups because they’re gonna talk all the time. And, you know, I’m gonna have to figure out who sits with who and you know, you start looking for problems. But what you should be trying to do is maybe go talk to Mrs. So and so about the way that she structures her group. So why did the kids like that? More than, you know, the desks and rows do do your desk really need to be in rows? Or is that just to make it like easier for you to walk up and down when you’re, you know, being the prison guard while they’re taking tests? So, yeah, you know, what, I think the highest level of any sort of design, whether it’s lesson design or game design, or you know, product design, car design, building design, is the why of the thing. You know, like, we all know, the The, the, what we’re trying to do, I’m trying to make a party game, I’m trying to teach verbs or whatever, it’s really getting to the why that will help you improve your lesson design and your and, and your focus, and the make decisions of how you tweak things that are that are going on in your classroom, why are the kids sitting in rows, if you don’t have a really good reason, then maybe think about that? A little bit more, you know, why do in tattoo stories, for example, to go back to that the the players have five things that they’re trying to combine into one tattoo. So it’s like a pie, fire, a fairy, Dragon and tree, you know, and they have to mash all that together into one picture. There is a why to that there’s a reason it’s five cards and not seven cards, or three cards, there’s a reason you have three minutes instead of two minutes or four minutes. And all of that came from surveying players play testing, and and, and honing that those wise, and the five cards three minutes was the best experience, the same thing you can see and monstrosity, you have two minutes in that game instead of three minutes. And that, you know, there’s there’s there’s design reasons for that, but you’re really thinking about, why are you making the choices you’re making. And if you don’t have a really good reason, then that may be something that you can investigate,

Dustin Staats 32:23
ri ght? And so going to the other side, then what can a game designer learn from a teacher, or educator, and then I also maybe we can get into this too, because some people are in the process of maybe designing a specific educational game, for example. I mean, nerd words is maybe not an educational game, but it’s definitely a game meant to include some type of learning, right? So what can game designers learn from educators? Who

Eric Slauson 32:55
boy, um, what can game designers learn from educators, to me, are one of the things that I learned and I kind of touched on this, this earlier, your game is going to people, and you really need to learn some basic psychology and some, think about the way that you know, things make would would make somebody feel in your game, and whether that’s worth the thing that you’re trying to do. So for example, you know, let’s say, you know, a teaching example, you know, there’s like the classic game, you know, Jeopardy we play, like classroom Jeopardy all the time, or whatever. And usually, it’s like team versus team, I started kind of rethinking that. Because if you have the students who don’t understand the material, and they have to, like get up in front of the whole class and represent their team, and they get it wrong, then like, not only have they kind of been embarrassed a little bit by not knowing the material, but they’ve also let their team down, their team is mad at them, you know, like, it’s, there’s a lot of negative emotions for kind of what is supposed to be a silly, you know, just kind of a review thing. And that’s why I you know, I started shifting a little bit to these digital formative assessments that are kind of anonymous, like quizzes or Kahoot, or something like that. Because that way, for quizzes in the on the the teacher dashboard, I could see what everybody is missing and what everybody is getting, but they can’t see each other’s and on Kahoot they could see their own score, and they could say like, Oh, I really don’t understand this I need to study, but it’s not in front of a whole class, you know, thinking about you know, how things make people feel is something that I, I really started to do as a as a as a teacher, talking about giving speeches, you know, is there a reason that everybody has has to get up and give a speech or can I allow students to make a video and record their voice instead, you know, maybe it’s just that that in person speech that is giving them anxiety, but they have the, they have the words, and they have the thoughts. So why not just let them do a video essay that explains their their topic or make a commercial for their persuasive, you know, speech or whatever. And as a designer, you get to be a better designer by thinking about the way that you know, games, make your players feel, and it doesn’t have to all be, you know, cuddly, you know, everybody has a good time, if you’re making, you know, chess or whatever, somebody is going to leave the game feeling dumber than the other person. You know, that’s just the way it is, you know, it’s a strategy game, and, you know, one person is gonna lose your job. And that type of game is to help scaffold them feeling clever during the game, you know, in chess, usually, unless you, you know, just get completely obliterated. There’s like, moments where you feel clever, like, Oh, I, you know, I got your query, and oh, I, you know, I just took two pawns from you know, like, every little individual thing that you do, has a feeling associated with it. And food chain magnate, you know, it’s a very complex game. But each individual little system is giving you these little moments of feeling clever, a feeling like you’re building this, this food chain. And while you know, yes, there’s a winner and a loser at the end, and one person is going to feel better than everybody else. You’re looking to make sure that the losing players don’t feel like they’re losers, the whole game, you know, is really important. And yeah, so it’s thinking about people as as people and as, and that there are kind of emotional consequences to the words that you use to the art that you use to the, the, you know, abilities that you give players? Um, yeah, really just think about the the psychological and the emotional impact of the decisions of the ways that you’re asking players to interact with each other.

Dustin Staats 37:20
Yeah, I think I mean, it comes all back to what we think is a theme of this episode, the student experience in the player experience and what you’re adding to that or taking from that I guess, detracted from that experience. For sure. All right, Eric, so don’t go anywhere. We’re gonna play a game coming up.

Back with Roger, Roger, I think I learned a lot from Eric. And like I mentioned in the conversation I had with him, I’ve done some game design for learning. And I have a lot of experience doing that. But I don’t have a lot of experience designing for fun, Fred entertainment, I guess? What do you what stood out to you in the conversation between Eric and I,

Rodger Moore 38:05
for me, it was a, it had a lot to do with, where he said he kind of purposely kind of let students struggle a little bit, which I think is a difficult thing to do as a teacher, but it’s, it’s a good, really a good way for students to learn. And that, you know, maybe it promotes them, at least at some point, it’s going to take some time about maybe taking a little more of a risk, you know, that it’s okay, because I think a lot of times students will look at teachers while you’re, you’re the teacher, you know, all the answers. And that’s not necessarily always the truth, that that is totally fine to let them, you know, struggle, because then that’s the discovery part. And they, they maybe start to think on their own in those kinds of things. So I just know, in my, my teaching practices, I did some real similar things, you know, with certain activities where I would leave things out on purpose in watch, you know, then it, I think, sometimes that actually for students, it piques their interest for some of them, it might get them going and, you know, maybe make them more curious. Now, you know, on the flip side, you can have some kids that shut down from A to so I think you have to be, you certainly got to be aware of that, you know, but that that that comes over time, I think, you know, learning learn your students, maybe not something you might want to do beginning of the year, but maybe it is because then you kind of kind of get a little bit of a gauge of where you’re where your kids, you know, are willing to go or whatever. So, I mean, that’s one thing that really stood out to me in the conversation. Right, I

Dustin Staats 39:37
think that was one thing we talked about throughout the episode is that theme of knowing your students, for teacher or facilitator and knowing your audience for a game designer. And I think one thing that’s important that Eric mentioned too, is front loading in for a game designer. That’s absolutely 100 Present critical, if you are not front loading, in the sense of creating that rulebook for understanding how to play the game, or if you’re someone just, you know, playing a game for the first time, you want to really look at the whole idea and be able to go through the process of teaching the game without having to, I guess struggle through it. I don’t know, I guess I’m trying to process this. The front loading of a game, as a game designer is in the rulebook where a front loading as a teacher is through whether it’s scaffolding or giving explicit directions, that’s super important. And through a student, you’re able to learn, you’re able to go through self learning process, if that front loading component is there. And as a player, you’re able to play the game if a very strong front loading component that’d be in the rulebook is there.

Rodger Moore 40:52
Right, right. Yeah, I agree with that. That makes sense. Yeah, like, so there’s a lot of caveats with with all that stuff, strategies and stuff you can use, you know, purposely leaving stuff out? Or maybe you really want to, maybe you could even kind of do a hybrid of that, where you leave little bits out, but other parts of it, you guide them, and then maybe you slowly back off the next time or, you know, I mean, I think there’s a lot of different ways to approach it.

Dustin Staats 41:22
And I’m curious, too, because I know, you mentioned that you had done some flipped classroom instruction, or you did some video instruction for your students. And that’s something that Eric had said, now that he’s becoming a tech specialist, as you really list, he’s really leaned into that flipped classroom environment or that student centered learning approach. And I as well have used the flipped classroom approach. So I wonder how and why. Or if that relates to game design, or no, I’m trying to process that idea. Do you have any ideas regarding flipped classroom or student centered learning approach and game design?

Rodger Moore 42:03
I mean, it’s, I don’t think it really applies. But I think it’s still like you were talking about rules, but then you have, instead of people I sold on this applies, but instead of, you know, having read the rulebook that somebody else has done the work for that, like they’ve created some kind of playthrough or something, which, you know, there’s a lot more of those things, I think, that are coming out a lot more people are diving into that, and you’ve got some people that are kind of mainstays, you know, doing that, you know, in the industry right now, it’s kind of some of the stuff I look for, you know, if I’m looking for those sorts of things are ones that are much more condensed, you know, and that, I think, in that sense, that might work better for teaching because of, you know, time constraints and classes, classrooms and stuff like that, that you don’t want to have a really lengthy explanation of something that it needs to be short, sweet. And kind of to the point, you know, and you may even have to make a little entertaining to, I think, to, you know, kind of engage students or whatever, my that’s about all I can really think of. I’d have to ponder that a little more.

Dustin Staats 43:08
Yeah, I mean, I mean, you made a good point where it should be entertaining is, when I did the flipped classroom approach, what’s really important is concise information through video format, because it’s really easy to lose engagement when you’re watching a video. So you want to make sure it’s short content in bursts, I guess and also create some sort of way to make the video engaging or interactive. And one thing I would do is like plant like what are the what do they call it in? In movies? Like the secret things? Oh, my gosh, what are those called?

Rodger Moore 43:47
Like easter eggs or some easter eggs? Yes,

Dustin Staats 43:49
yes. I wouldn’t plant like little secret easter eggs. And in videos, like for example, I used a secret or coffee because I talked about how much I love coffee in my video, like just mid video, I was teaching content. And I did like a little cut cutscene. And I was like, hey, the secret word for this video is coffee, because I really love coffee. And if you let me know what the secret word is, I’ll give you some bonus points. And then I went back to the content. So it really helped me. One it really helped me understand who’s watching my videos, and to and hopefully helped people or my students learn that Okay, I need to pay attention to these videos in the future because maybe there’ll be another easter egg and one of these videos. And when it comes to like rulebook teaching or rule books, like, how do you make that engaging? I don’t know. I don’t know if you can do that with the rulebook. But you could create a different medium of teaching a game through like a QR code on a on a game and then Oh, yeah, yeah,

Rodger Moore 44:46
absolutely. Yeah, I think there’s a lot of things you could try, you know, are making certain, you know, I think sometimes having kids teach each other might be a good way to do it. So Like you said, a QR code or something, maybe, you know, this group of students has access to this part of the game, and another one has access to this part and so on. And then they have to start coming back together. You know, I mean, that’s all the time thing, but that that might work, you know, something, because then then they’re not trying to digest all of it at once, like, you know, this group of students is just learning this part of it. But then you’re going to teach yours, and then the other one’s going to teach what they know. And then you just kind of build on that and scaffold it and tell, tell those sudden, okay, now we have all the rules down now we can play, you know, and then some of those kids would be experts on that part of the game, you know, or whatever, you know, when they’re when they’re playing, and then I guess, if you put them together, that would make sense where you would have one student, you know, that came from each group that would come together playing a game, because each one of them is, you know, helped understand that part of the rules. So now that you’ve kind of got a complete, like, every student’s got a piece of it, and they can all help each other or something.

Dustin Staats 46:00
And I think one thing that Eric touched on that is, is my absolute favorite thing I discovered when I started looking at how to design games and learning a little bit about design theory, I suppose I’m not, I don’t have a background in design. But this is like the first thing you learn when you think about designing anything. And that’s the iterative process where you create something at fails, you create it again, and how teachers are designers, we are designing a learning experience for our students. And we’re learning what works and what doesn’t. And we iterate on that process. I think that was super helpful on the thing he touched on. And then he also talked about feedback. And one thing that he mentioned, and I hear all the time, when you receive feedback is write everything down. Even if it’s absolutely terrible garbage feedback. That’s your first thought, when you hear this feedback, it’s fine, write it down, you might revisit that and see it from a different perspective and realize something that Eric said where that feedback comes from. And if you need to adjust something based on that. Alright, so Roger, we’re going to move into our game. And I did not share the game with you before I don’t think and I cut out, we stopped the conversation. So the game is something we’ve done before it’s Is that for real a board game, so you’ve played this before, and I’m gonna go into the explanation with Eric now. And after explanation, Eric is going to read on three different board games. One of them is my board game. One of them is Eric’s board game. Those are both not real board games. And another one is a real board game. So in order for you to win, you need to guess the correct, you need to guess the real board game in order for Erica Itaewon. If you guess my board game I went if you guess Eric’s board game, he wins. And feel free to play along at home, see if you can guess the real board game.

All right. So we’re going to play Is that for real a board game. And this is going to be a little bit different if you’ve listened to the previous episode, or watched our live stream where we played this before. So Eric, and I have both thought of two board games that are not real board games. And then I found a third one that is a real board game. So if you’re listening, you can try to guess which one you think is the real board game out of the three. And Roger will also be playing so in order for Roger to when he has to guess the correct one. In order for me to win he has to guess mine. In order for Eric to win. Roger has to guess Eric’s so I have a name spinner and based on who it lands on. So this way, you and Roger, you listening and Roger will not know which one is who’s or who’s, whose board game is whose or which one’s the real one. So I’m going to click spin here and we’ll see who gets to read the first one. And the first one, Eric, you get read that first one,

Eric Slauson 49:07
okay. In lava lake players are leapfrogging across a lake of lava on lily pads made of rock. Players roll dice to determine what types of rocks they can jump on, and how sure their footing is when they land. But watch out. Your shoes are melting as you cross and the rocks are getting smaller and smaller.

Dustin Staats 49:30
All right, so that’s lava lake. And we’ll go to the number two and that’s gonna be Eric you gonna read number two also. Oh goody, goody.

Eric Slauson 49:39
In coconuts, players launch coconuts toward a field of cups in the middle of the playing area. score points by landing in the Cubs and become the top monkey. By playing special Monkey King magic cards you could force opponents to shoot blind, take long shots or otherwise ruin them. Efforts to cup a coconut.

Dustin Staats 50:03
All right, that is coconuts. And the third one will be read by Eric.

Eric Slauson 50:11
Hey, it just likes my voice. Yeah, flap jack pancakes is a dexterity game where your goal is to stack as many pancakes as possible. The pancake pieces are lopsided, so you have to be careful how you place them on your plate. Use challenge cards to force your opponents to take more lopsided pancakes.

Dustin Staats 50:33
Alright, and that’s flapjack pancakes. So if you’re listening, try to think of which one’s the real board game and then we’ll ask Roger.

Alright, so we have lava. Lake, coconuts and flapjack pancakes. What is the real board game?

Rodger Moore 50:56
Yeah, I think it’s coconuts.

Dustin Staats 50:58
It is coconuts. Yeah,

Rodger Moore 51:01
I’m just not familiar with that one. That’s why.

Dustin Staats 51:03
Okay. Yes. I tried to find an obscure one. It’s it’s kind of obscure from Korea. I think it’s called Coco nuts in Korean. The it’s a konglish. board game name. But yeah, would you know which one was Eric’s? And you guess,

Unknown Speaker 51:20

Dustin Staats 51:23
lava lake or flapjack? pancakes?

Rodger Moore 51:25
I don’t know. I’m gonna go lava lake.

Dustin Staats 51:27
Ooh, he scored a score to bonus point because that one was Eric’s and then mine was flapjack. Pot

Rodger Moore 51:32
pancake. Okay. So that was just totally a guess there.

Dustin Staats 51:36
If any of those games come out, you have to credit Board Gaming with Education, either Eric or Dustin for those?

Rodger Moore 51:43
Right, right. There we go.

Dustin Staats 51:44
There we go. So Eric, thank you again, so much for joining us today and sharing a little bit about your experience as both an educator and a game designer. I know I learned a lot from the show. I’m sure others did too. If anyone wanted to reach out to you, where might they do that? And I know you have a game that’s hitting the shelf soon. Do you want to share a little bit about that too?

Eric Slauson 52:04
Yeah. So if you want to reach me or follow my my game design things I am at slawson designs, that’s SL au SL n designs, on Twitter and also on Instagram. And as far as my games, I have nerd Ward science which is available kind of everywhere. And in Dustin store. And I also have a game called tattoo stories which I mentioned on the podcast that’s available. Amazon target, the bicycle cards website. And then my newest game is called monstrosity. And that just released I believe, as the time of this, this podcast, and that you could find through deep water games. It’ll also be available on Amazon, and hopefully at your local game store as well. I mentioned it a little bit, but I don’t think I explained what monstrosity is. The core idea is that you are kind of police sketch artists. But instead of drawing suspects, you are drawing aliens that people have seen, they’ve kind of had a close encounter of the Third Kind. And one player sees an alien card, they try to memorize it for 20 seconds, they put it face down. And then they have two minutes to describe it to all the other players who are trying to draw as fast as they can based on the description. They’re yelling out questions to the to the witness to try to get more information. And at the end of the two minutes you turn around your pictures. You kind of have some wanted posters that you’ve made. And the witness looks to see which one is the closest to what they think they remember the the alien looked like. So really fun time a little neat little party game communication memory game, but I’m really excited for that one

to come out. So

Dustin Staats 53:58
yeah, I’m super excited to hopefully give that a try here soon too. Or actually, by the time this podcast comes out. Hopefully I’ve had already tried it. Awesome. Thank you so much, Eric, for coming on.

Eric Slauson 54:09
Thanks for having me.

Dustin Staats 54:15
All right, Roger. Thank you again for coming on the show. I’m excited to have you on again here in a few episodes.

Rodger Moore 54:21
Okay, sounds great. Thanks for having me again, Dustin. Appreciate it.

Board Gaming with Education 54:27
Thank you for listening in this week. If you like what you heard, be sure to let us know you can find us on social media as Board Gaming with Education or PGE games or email us at podcast at Board Gaming with education.com. If you want to support our podcast, be sure to check out our support page on our website. As always teach better learn more and most importantly, play more. Thank you for listening and until next time.



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