Tried and True

Play Journal 3

For previous play journals, I have experimented with the trending games both in education and removed.  To be honest, I have found little allure to these games and decided to return to basics with a digital twist: Checkers.  A longtime favorite pastime of mine, I decided to download a networked version of checkers for my Ipad.  It of course had the basics of one and two player modes, but added the element of network play which has become common place in most games.  I will not elaborate on the rules of checkers as I am fairly certain everyone is familiar with the game.  Let it suffice to say that this version was no different than traditional checkers, except in the networked mode, there was a timer that players had to adhere by.  Unlike some other games, the repartee between players was always cordial or more typically non-existent.  I did find it frustrating at times playing in  network mode as other players would occasionally disappear from the game, presumably losing interest, which would ultimately lead to their concession.

I find checkers to be refreshingly simple, especially in comparison to more contemporary games.  Much like chess, but without the lengthy matches, checkers is void of bells, whistles, violence or any ulterior motives.  Out of the new age games I played over this course, none of them compare to the basic ingenuity and strategy required in this classic game.  A player is left to their own impulses as opposed to being directed by declining health meters and constant pop ups for new endeavors.  And yes, I know I sound like an old man, a very old man, but I promise you, I am in fact a millennial.

The general idea of checkers and its design is above reproach.  This particular version does have a significant flaw that hinders the overall strategy of the game though.  In the traditional rules of checkers, should a jump be possible at the beginning of the players turn, it is mandated that the player must take that jump.  This significantly plays into strategy as you can essentially force the opposition to move in a certain way with the sacrifice of one of your pieces.  The digital version that I played, allowed the player to decide whether or not to jump and even how many jumps they would like to make if a combination move was available.  Overall, I found this, in addition to the aforementioned resolve of some players to finish, to be the only flaw with the game.

Although checkers dates back to the Cradle of Civilization, it still has significant relevance to our modern readings and views on gaming.  According to Saunders in Teacher Pioneers, one of the keys to a good game is the variability of outcomes.  A defined outcome is better classified as a puzzle in opposition to the classification of game.  Checkers provides the participants with myriad opportunities for achieving one’s ultimate goal of capturing all of the opposing player’s pieces.  On a different level, and similar to the re-purposing of elements seen in Paul Darvasi’s The Ward Game, checkers provides a basic system that can be adapted to fit different instructional goals.  As Darvasi manipulated technology to meet his gaming needs, the premise of checkers can be altered to achieve certain learning goals as well.  For example in a classroom setting, students/players can be challenged with completing various tasks prior to moving or having different missions written on each game square that must be completed should they move one of their pieces to that particular spot.  Much like any time-tested game, the premise is sound and can be altered to meet near any learning objective.

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