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Reacting to the Past: Extended Simulations and the Learning Experience in Political Science
Unformatted Document Text:  The game format makes the theoretical underpinnings of political positions increasingly im- portant as the situation in the games becomes more volatile. The papers assigned in the games are the basis for presentations made in class. Both the papers and presentations must present the ideologies of the classic writings in ways that support the victory objectives of the character the student represents. All participants in the India game had to support or criticized Gandhi’s ideas in light of their victory objectives. Similarly, in the French Revolution game, the various factions and characters must all either defend or refute the arguments in Rousseau’s The Social Contract and Burke’s Reflections in their papers and in debate. This forced students back to their assigned readings to understand what they were saying and how to use it effectively. Since all students know that their positions will be publicly opposed by their faction’s opponents and that the grade they receive for their papers and their participation will be partly determined by their use of ar- guments from the classic readings, they must develop enough command of the material to stand their ground effectively on paper and in person. The level of understanding reached as a conse- quence is well beyond what would normally be expected of freshman students. Finally, although the actual conduct and results of the games are in the hands of the students themselves, as “gamemasters” instructors have an vital role. Students must be kept on track and in character in order for the games to work. In my course, this took a considerable amount of e- mail and personal contact with individual students and factions both during the game sessions and afterwards, usually to remind them of their victory objectives. Further, gamemasters must intervene in some circumstances to help decide the course of the game. In keeping with the con- tingent elements in both games, I had to throw dice to determine the effect of uprisings by either the crowd of Paris or the Hindu nationalists and the Muslims. I also introduced documents at the 9

Authors: Lightcap, Tracy.
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The game format makes the theoretical underpinnings of political positions increasingly im-
portant as the situation in the games becomes more volatile. The papers assigned in the games
are the basis for presentations made in class. Both the papers and presentations must present the
ideologies of the classic writings in ways that support the victory objectives of the character the
student represents. All participants in the India game had to support or criticized Gandhi’s ideas
in light of their victory objectives. Similarly, in the French Revolution game, the various factions
and characters must all either defend or refute the arguments in Rousseau’s The Social Contract
and Burke’s Reflections in their papers and in debate. This forced students back to their assigned
readings to understand what they were saying and how to use it effectively. Since all students
know that their positions will be publicly opposed by their faction’s opponents and that the grade
they receive for their papers and their participation will be partly determined by their use of ar-
guments from the classic readings, they must develop enough command of the material to stand
their ground effectively on paper and in person. The level of understanding reached as a conse-
quence is well beyond what would normally be expected of freshman students.
Finally, although the actual conduct and results of the games are in the hands of the students
themselves, as “gamemasters” instructors have an vital role. Students must be kept on track and
in character in order for the games to work. In my course, this took a considerable amount of e-
mail and personal contact with individual students and factions both during the game sessions
and afterwards, usually to remind them of their victory objectives. Further, gamemasters must
intervene in some circumstances to help decide the course of the game. In keeping with the con-
tingent elements in both games, I had to throw dice to determine the effect of uprisings by either
the crowd of Paris or the Hindu nationalists and the Muslims. I also introduced documents at the
9


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