Board Games and Political Theory- Part 3

After completing my analysis of Risk, Settlers of Catan, and Diplomacy, I moved into the third phase of my research: educational application. This part of the project was the most speculative – since I have no educational training other than my own experience as a student – but was also the most enjoyable. Connecting the intricacies of IR theory to my longtime passion for board games was gratifying. I believe the potential for board games in education, specifically in the teaching of IR theory, is great and, as of yet, mostly untapped.

This phase of my project was composed of two parts: an Example Powerpoint made to explain selected IR theories using my analysis of Risk, Catan, and Diplomacy from phase two of my research. Such a Powerpoint would be presented in class after the students had completed assigned readings from the class textbook as well as from the rule-books of the games to be referenced. Having shown the students a few ways in which the connections between board games and IR theory can play out, they would be assigned a group project involving the board games that had been referenced in class.

The rubric for this group project is the second part of this phase. Groups would play through a board game (Risk, Catan, or Diplomacy) with an eye towards the underlying similarities between the mechanisms of game-play and IR theory. Groups would be required to write 4 ‘Journal Entries’ detailing the certain sets of in-game events and how they resemble a specific IR theory. Students would be graded on the clarity of the explanation of in-game events, the clarity of the explanation of its relation to an IR theory, and the overall quality of the writing.

Doubtless, there are many other ways in which board games could be used to teach IR theory. As discussed in my previous post, the ability of board games to boil complex ideas such as world conquest down to simple, easy-to-understand mechanics parallels the utility of IR theories: to simplify the complex behaviors in the international system so they can be better understood.

My next post will be a summary of the entire research project and will contain links to all components of the three phases of my project.

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