Board Games and Speech Therapy: Who Would Win
And I’m back after a long hiatus (major interferences involved a very interesting year or so at work and a baby).
This week, I’ll be looking at a party game that was originally released by Gorilla Games and now published by Gamewright, Who Would Win?
Description: In this party game, two players are each given a fictional or historical character (Darth Vader, Albert Einstein, etc). Then, a moderator reveals a card from an event deck (figure skating, gardening, pie eating, etc). Each player has 20 seconds to explain why their character would win at that event. The moderator chooses a winner, and players switch roles.
Variants: There’s an iOS version of this game. It doesn’t appear to be made by either publisher of the card game, so you may encounter different figures and/or events, but it’s the same concept.
-Comparison: Comparing two people is a fundamental part of the game.
-Agent/Action Relationship: This game requires students to synthesize at least the “who” and “what” of a scene, likely adding in the “how” and “why” as well.
-Inference: The game requires students to take a person they know something about and apply it to a context that the person (probably) isn’t involved in. How would Michael Jordan’s basketball expertise help him in a sailing competition? Does Marie Curie’s remarkable scientific mind help her sing?
-Supports wide range of players: If the clinician acts as moderator, this game can support as few as two players or as many as eight.
-Narrative comparison: Who Would Win taps into a skill that many speech impaired students have a hard time with – comparison – and approaches it from perspectives that almost all kids are familiar with – competition and storytelling.
-Easily adapted – If you’ve got lesson plans in advance, it is not difficult to modify the event deck or the character deck to include events or characters from your students’ lessons. Class studying civil rights for Black History Month? Forcing kids to think outside the box and explain why Harriet Tubman would beat Malcolm X at a science fair could help improve understanding of both iconic figures in US History. (And now I want to see the poster presentation for Tubman’s project, “Can natural terrain features be used to fool scent-following hunting dogs?”)
-Background Knowledge Required: If you don’t know who Albert Einstein is, you won’t be able to argue why he’d be better than anyone at sheep herding.
-Limited Time: Students who process information slowly or stutter will have difficulty with the 20-second time limit.
-Favoritism in Voting: The rules of the game ask all players not involved in the debate to sit on a “jury” of voters. There’s a significant risk for students who are not popular to do poorly regardless of what they say.
-Throw Away The Timer – Untimed response is usually better in therapy anyway.
-Player-Chosen Characters – If you don’t mind getting an in-depth knowledge of Miley Cyrus or Kim Kardashian (and honestly, if you did, what were you thinking working with kids?), let students pick their own person to argue about before introducing the event. Just be careful of that kid who can make Batman work for anything.
-Adapt to Curriculum – We discussed above the possibility for a custom deck for Black History Month. The same would work for a deck of characters (or events) based on stories read in an ELA class and events/characters in a social studies class, and you could even stretch to make event decks based on things like health concepts (who’s better at CPR – Benjamin Franklin or Lassie?).
-The character cards can be used to create a “person-only” game of Apples to Apples, or even as a text-only approach to Dixit.
-The game in general can be played in the style of Apples to Apples, with the judge holding a scenario and each player playing the character they think would win. This would keep a greater number of students consistently engaged in the session.
Overall, this game is one of the strongest games for high school students with language impairments that I’ve encountered (and they’re a hard group to shop for). It’s also especially adaptable to general education curriculum concepts, which is important as more states adopt Common Core and SLPs are encouraged to push into the classroom. It’s not the easiest game to find right now, but if you can locate a copy, I highly recommend it.