Many apologies for the delay! But this week you’re in for a treat with a double episode and blog. Enjoy!
So our first week, Joe and I (Luke again) saw a bunch of ‘handshake deals’ that made the kids feel well ahead of the game in terms of crises solved. ‘We solved seven in one day!’ we’d hear. Or ‘If this game ended today, we’d win.’ (It’s a bit more ‘all or nothing’ than that, guys). Unfortunately many of those deals fell flat once it came time to sign an official document. Last week, on the other hand, we finally moved away from those meaningless ‘handshake deals’ to the perennially sacred ‘pinky promises’! Those things are no joke. Might as well be blood oaths…
All jokes aside, however, we saw some real growth in the players during this game day. While our first week of games resulted in an all too familiar arms race, the week of pinky promises brought us closer to true understanding of consequences and even inched nearer to an all-inclusive peace summit (we’ll talk about that in a minute). We’re starting to see the kids make decisions based on experience and with a sense of macro worldview rather than a super focused preoccupation of micro problems directly involving their own respective countries. Still seeing the forest despite the trees, if you will. Brady, our arms dealer, in what turned out to be a microcosm of the overall gameplay to this point, learned he shouldn’t just sign everything put in front of him. Rather, he has the power of choice, and sometimes those choices can really affect someone else’s vision within the game. And I really don’t think I can overstate this point: it is difficult to disappoint your social group. It doesn’t matter if it’s friends in fourth grade or colleagues in world politics, to contradict is to confront, and confrontation is a tough thing to master. But finding a way to walk the line between prudence and initiative, that’s the golden ticket. Poor Brady became the example we used over and over to discuss with everyone from prime ministers to the UN that, ultimately, nothing productive (or destructive) is typically going to happen in this game without at least some kind of passive endorsement by everyone involved. So if you’re comfortable putting your name on the action, go for it. If not, maybe think it through a little more.
Throughout the next week of gameplay we saw some more pinky promises, some more action, and even a couple potential coups in the works. Unfortunately, some of the moves were attempted prematurely and one player even tipped little his coup loving hand. Aside from that, what were really interesting this week were the (finally) earnest attempts to move past the petty and make a real go at this peace thing. The Lochlanders (yes the same Lochland that bombed a control center on day one, starting this whole snowball running down the mountain) decided to sit everyone down to hash out their problems and sign a lasting peace among nations. The art tables were pushed together. Seats were assigned. Invitations were sen… I mean yelled across campus. We were ready. The crises would take precedent. Diplomacy would rule the day. Then someone spoke. And then everyone responded. I tell you what, you give a group a safe space to air their grievances and they all turn into Frank Costanza on Festivus! So needless to say it fell apart. Not to be deterred, Lochland sent the world banker (Wesley) out to levy fines (illegal bluff) on each of the newly absent summit members. So they sat down a second time. It was like we were watching the Big Three at Yalta. And it somehow went worse! Deuce’s FDR yelled out at one point, ‘Can we please just erase from our memories someone calling someone else a jerk?’ only to be shot down with a chorus of opposition ultimately resulting in ‘No, we can not!’ Again this was one of those times that, even with the internet troll in me egging it all on, I really wanted to step off my perch (literally taking overhead shots of the action) and talk about conflict resolution and communication skills with the kids, gently guiding them to a result I find satisfactory but one completely devoid of their true input. But we didn’t do that. What Joe and I did suggest was a summit of representatives rather than the entire world population. Then we backed off completely, with the hopes that this was a turning point in diplomacy among these proud, mountainous world leaders.
Now let’s see if they overcorrect…
Let’s end with another set of wonderful quotes from the kids:
‘Sorry about that…’ -Deuce
‘North McKalcia and the Nin don’t even care!’ -Wesley
‘Well MAKE THEM CARE!’ -Anthony
‘Guys, this is a huge decision. I need to be left alone to think about it for awhile.’ -Ksaun
‘Hey money is money. Anything helps.’ -Sophie
All the best,
-Luke and Joe