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Scout Blum Talks Game Design, a Game Design Minor and about her Non-profit Games Design Organization, Mockingbird Games- 69

Episode Overview

  • Episode Topics and Interviews
    • Scout Blum – 2:09
    • Playtesting and Feedback – 3:25
    • Mockingbird Games and Face to Face – 7:08
    • What do Students Learn from Game Design – 9:43
    • Reacting to the Past – 12:08
    • Other Games in History – 17:00
    • Game Design Minor at Troy – 20:40
    • Final Tips from Scout – 24:25
  • Scout’s Desert Island Questionaire

In this episode of Board Gaming with Education, Dustin talks to Scout from Mockingbird Games. Scout is a History University Professor at Troy University in Alabama. At her university, she teaches courses in the newly established game design minor at Troy University. She also teaches a course titled History through Games. Her non-profit, Mockingbird Games, is responsible for the successfully funded game Face to Face published on Kickstarter. Be sure to listen to the episode to learn more about her wealth of knowledge in the field of game design and game-based learning.

Web: http://mockingbird-games.com

Email: scoutblum@gmail.com

Twitter: @scoutblum

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mockingbirdgames/

Thank you to Purple Planet Music for the wonderful contribution of their songs “Retro Gamer” and “Mumbai Mood” for our interview and desert island segments. These songs can be found in full on this music archive.

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Episode Topics

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Scout Blum – 2:09

Dr. Elizabeth (Scout) Blum is a professor of history at Troy University in Troy, Alabama.  She has an MA and PhD in history from the University of Houston.  Her academic research centers on environmental history, particularly the development of the environmental movement and children’s environmental views over the 20th century.  Her first book, Love Canal Revisited, covered the implications of race, class, and gender at the famous toxic waste site in the 1970s and 1980s.   Dr. Blum has also been actively using games in the classroom for some time – including creating a class called History Through Games, where the class examines historical themes and then plays board games around those themes.  She is also the owner of Mockingbird Games, a small game publishing company dedicated to publishing “games for good” – including games by young people, games for charity, and games with social justice themes.  She has designed several historical role playing games, and a board game about finding stray animals homes called Adopt Me!

Playtesting and Feedback – 3:25

Scout explains how playtesting can be so valuable, and how crucial it is to have an array of playtesters that can provide insights and feedback through various perspectives. She goes on to compare playtesting and game design to student feedback and student learning outcomes in her courses at her university.

Mockingbird Games and Face to Face – 7:08

Mockingbird Games is a company currently transitioning into a non-profit status. They specialize in publishing games that are designed by young people. They published a variety of games under the philosophy of “games for good.” Face to Face was the first game designed by 12-year old Aidan. If you are interested in Mockingbird Games, be sure to check out their site to see what they’re up to and keep up to date on any new games coming out!

What do Students Learn from Game Design? – 9:43

Scout talks about the iterative process of game design and how that teaches skills like problem-solving and social-emotional learning like dealing with failure. She talks about different benefits that game design can provide as a part of the learning process.

Reacting to the Past – 12:08

Reacting to the Past is a role-playing pedagogy. It was started by Mark Carnes, a History Professor from Barnard College in the late 1990s. It involves a historical turning point as a part of the role-playing pedagogy. Students are placed in a historical situation and are assigned roles of real people from the time period. Students are required to discover, understand, and apply primary documents as a part of the learning process. In Reacting to the Past Students become highly engaged and motivated in the learning process.

Other Games in History – 17:00

Scout shares some of the games she uses in her history curriculum including Pandemic, Catan, Twilight Struggle, and Colonial. She also talks a bit about her course History through Games. She also shares some tips on using inaccurate history-based games and how we can apply a critical lens to the choices the game designer made.

Game Design Minor at Troy – 20:40

The game design minor at Troy University grew out of the success of her History through Games course. Scout shares several benefits to the major and what students can expect to learn. One of the major outcomes of the minor is a final product designed and ready to go upon completion of the program.

Final Tips from Scout – 24:25

One major recommendation Scout makes about using game-based learning is to choose games in your field and take small steps. Be sure to find something you are familiar with first, then implement it, get comfortable with it, then move into something bigger. She also suggests taking advantage of different resources online!

Also, be sure to check out Mockingbird Games for their new upcoming games!

Games from the Episode

Throughout the episode, several games are mentioned. If any of these games sound like something you might enjoy playing yourself or in your class, you can help support our podcast by purchasing these games through our Amazon affiliate links. We will earn a small commission at no expense to you. Check out the games below:

Melissa’s Desert Island Questionnaire


Betrayal of House on the Hill

Grimm Forest

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