Megagames

I know it may seem strange to post a blog with a title like this, but GUYS (and girls)… megagames are amazing.

You have all heard of boardgames, things like Monopoly, or Stratego or Risk. Maybe you have heard about that ultra-nerdy sub-genre of games like Settlers of Catan, Ticket to Ride, or Dominion. Megagames go beyond all of these.

Megagames were created in the late 1980’s as an offshoot of the ultra-nerdy Wargame movement. Currently, Megagame Makers in the UK develops games and puts on weekend events in and around London. The ideas in this post are largely inspired by their work. You can find out more about them here.

The entire purpose of a megagame is to provide the players with to much information for them to process alone. It is too big for any one person to handle. This concept could be applied to science fiction, fantasy worlds, or (and here we come to the reason for this blog post) HISTORY.

One thing I want to instill in my students is the knowledge that history is much to complex, to BIG to fully understand. That every person throughout history faced a life of constant choices just like my students do. What better way to simulate this than with a game based in history?

Picture with me if you will a class of students studying World War I, grouped into teams representing the various nations involved with that conflict. None of them know the goals of their classmates apart from what they learn from the newspaper (written and published by one of their peers, fulfilling the role of the World Press). Each new round, military leaders, heads of state, lead scientists, and diplomats (each played by students) would prepare battle strategies, give press releases, research new technologies, and attempt to reach their winning scenario. It would be glorious.

And when the dust settled, we would talk about what actually happened in World War I. We would reflect on the decisions that lead to the War to End All Wars. Suddenly, a conflict that seems so far away would seem so much closer, more personal.

Now I know there are some significant issues with implementing something like this in a classroom. For one thing, the concepts presented here are largely vague and indistinct. For another, a megagame would consume vast amounts of precious class time. And yet, I think it is a topic worth exploring.

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