There are all sorts of games out there–some are easy to play (our current Three Years of War Kickstarter campaign falls into this category…there’s even a podcast about it here…).  ‘Easy’ can be defined in terms of time needed to play or the difficulty of learning the rules.  Some are more complex; these are meant for people used to playing games.  This can be a problem.  Many, many game companies talk about making games usable for educators, but ultimately they are too complex to explain (or in some cases for a teacher herself to understand).  Thinking about this though made me reminisce about a project I undertook with my son quite a while back.  We wanted to do something big on a topic we both knew a little about but nothing in depth.

Complexity didn’t worry us–we play a lot of games.  Not knowing stuff didn’t bother us…that was giving us an opportunity to simulate the ‘fog of war’ leaders at the time faced.  We approached it with open minds–leaders at the time didn’t have history as a guide, so we wanted to ‘simulate’ the unknown as much as we could.  The game we chose, ‘Vietnam 1965-1975’ is meant for serious gamers and takes a long time to play (150-200 hours total), but it was worth it in terms of learning more about the war.

This isn’t something doable in a classroom–but I think if you read the links below, you’ll get a sense of how we progress in our understanding and how the war ebbed and flowed for us.  I also make sure to integrate real events into ours to give cultural perspective and we talked about that stuff as we played as well.  I was going to copy all of the session replays here into the blog, but by doing the links instead, you get a chance to see the comments of other people and their thoughts on what we were doing.

**There’s another important side of this–learning together with your son or daughter.  That sort of bonding is priceless.