Because paper-based games seem readily easy to make and modify, I wanted to learn more about the process. In August 2013 I had the opportunity to playtest a nondigital game called Socratic Smackdown. It is an “energetic discussion-based humanities game” called Socratic Smackdown (Institute of Play, 2014). Teams of four or six students engage in a gamified Socratic discussion. Textual evidence must be made to support claims. The game builds argumentative thinking skills—a Common Core State Standard for English language arts. Mission Lab at the Quest to Learn school designed the game in collaboration with teacher Rebecca Grodner. She even used it for her school’s “boss level” (end of trimester challenge) as a method for discussing dystopian novels in small reading groups. The rules were changed, with limits restricting what students could do or say. The remix was dubbed Socratic Crackdown, and hosted by Grodner dressed as the Hunger Games’s Effie Trinket. I was curious about how Mission Lab designed game-like learning experiences.
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