Banter, Yes, but Hardly Idle

When you first started teaching you probably hit on the idea of using old favourites like Monopoly or Clue or Trivial Pursuits in the classroom. After all, the banter that goes along with gameplay seems to mesh ideally with your role in the classroom. You set it up and the students dutifully played along, making nary a peep for much of the class. Counting off [one, two, three…] or passing the dice with a curt “Your turn” were about the extent of productive output. Some students may have even wondered aloud why they were playing silly games when they came to school to study. With that you realized why those games were covered with dust, piled high in a back corner of the resource room.

So what went wrong?
Engaging gameplay is one thing but what really makes a commercial tabletop game work is the idle banter that accompanies it. As satisfying as crushing your opponents in the heady real estate market of Atlantic City might be, what really keeps people coming back is the opportunity to socialize and interact in a completely relaxing setting. Fun derives not from the mechanics of gameplay; rather as a by-product. When language learners are tasked with commercial analog games too often the demands of gameplay AND interaction are too much so they concentrate on the easiest element, joylessly.

How is Truth or Dare Different?
Banter is not simply a by-product of Truth or Dare for English Language Learners: it’s the whole point. Built right into the mechanics of gameplay is the need for discourse: exposition and interrogation and interaction and, well… yeah… a whole lot of fun.

That’s how we put banter back in the box.

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