one of your classmates has been killed by a werewolf...

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This quarter I'm teaching a graduate seminar on online identity, community, and group behavior. I taught it last year for the first time, but now that it's not all new prep I'm able to have a bit more fun with it.

This week we're just starting with identity concepts, and I was trying to think of an engaging way to get them doing something related to identity issues. When I woke up this morning, I had the idea of having them play Werewolf, which is at its core all about knowing/deducing identity based on contextual clues.

I hand-wrote roles onto pieces of postcard stock, and handed them out to the sixteen students after a very brief overview of the rules. (One or two of them had played before, but most were new to the concept.) We played a very simple version of the game--for those of you familiar with werewolf, we had no healer and those "killed" did reveal their identity upon death.

It was spectacularly successful. Most of the students were game design & development students, and listening to them process all the game theory issues out loud was fascinating and immensely entertaining. Best of all, it forced even the quietest and most introverted students to engage in discussion (and misdirection), required everyone to learn each others' names, and created a sense of engagement and fun that's so often lacking in grad theory classes.

In other words, today was full of win. :)

Some useful links for people wanting to try werewolf themselves:

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We played Werewolf this semester in a grad seminar, when talking specifically about gaming and theory. 20 people, so I split them in half to have it go faster. They had fun, but it was more difficult than I expected to go through the analysis of it. Will probably give it another try next year, though.

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