211 – Long Distance Teaching and Game Design with Kathleen Mercury

Welcome to the Family Gamers Podcast! This week, we’re talking to Kathleen Mercury, a middle school teacher who teaches game design (among other things).

We talk about the many hats Kathleen wears (game designer, teacher of game design,

What we’ve been playing!

Kathleen played a lot over the summer, but not much since she started teaching school again this fall.

But she has played Cones of Dunshire! We’re jealous.

We’ve been playing:

The Bears and the Bees (Grandpa Beck’s Games)

The Crew (KOSMOS) – different than your average cooperative game.

Cloud City (Blue Orange) – by Phil Walker-Harding. Easy to get into, but a ton of spatial relations. Get as many long connections between towers as possible.

Walk the Plank! (Mayday Games) – Anitra loves the silly chaos, but also that there can be (in theory) two winners! Ever followed it up with Get Bit! ?

Castles of Caladale (Renegade Game Studios) – so glad to finally play a full game after seeing it at PAX Unplugged 2017 and interviewing David Wilkinson, the designer.

Hanamikoji (Deep Water Games) – a great two-player game. Check out our review.

Jaipur (Asmodee) – another great two player game.

Lost Cities (KOSMOS)

Teotihuacan (Board & Dice – we played on Board Game Arena) – a little less complicated than Tzolk’in.

Speaking of Board Game Arena, we’ve also been playing a lot of Downforce there! We love the original, and the expansions make it even better.

Want to play games with us on BGA? Look for “familygamersAA”, “mrsNightskrye”, and “mmmmmmmercury”.

5er Finden

SNAP Review – 5er Finden

We really enjoyed this unusual speedy search game from HABA. Claire helps us review it.

Count to five and see our pictures on the SNAP review page.

About Kathleen Mercury

So many things! We start with discussing Kathleen’s website KathleenMercury.com (and envying her incredibly nerdy photos).

Kathleen is a middle school teacher. She says that teaching feels brand new now. But that’s not a bad thing! For example, she’s doing “filmmaking” this fall (using iPads) rather than “cosplay” or role playing games.

Encouragement for parents of middle schoolers: “Seventh grade is the year everything blows up” but then kids get to put the pieces back together and figure out who they really are.

Kathleen checks in with her students regularly; creating a responsive working relationship benefits everybody.

Everything is going to be fine. Your children are going to be fine. We make up the rules, so we can make up new rules… Kids are resilient.

Kathleen Mercury

If we don’t do as much in school, this year that’s OK! Gaps will get made up and “buffed out” over time, and we can use this time to focus on what matters to our families and our kids (and ignore the other stuff!)

Let’s drop the perfectionism and focus on the “good enough”.

We have opportunities to collaborate and really connect with kids, using technology!

Games in Schools and Libraries

It’s a podcast! Kathleen started as a guest interview, and then became co-host. “It’s the only professional development that I got, as it related to games in education.” Games in Schools and Libraries podcast

In the last few years, more resources have cropped up (Board Gaming with Education is one) and Kathleen is just happy to see more things. It’s why she gives away a lot of her resources for free, because she can’t guarantee that everything is only her idea. And she wants to pay it forward and make it easier for others to do what she’s been doing.

Check out Bennett Day School, which is running a year-long game design remote class for a small fee.

Game Designer

Kathleen has game designs that have been picked up by publishers (but not available yet).

“Dragnorok” – scenario-based dragon dexterity game (coming from Kolossal)

“Crash Course” – modular racetrack w/Greek god theme (coming from Wiz Kids)

“I wasn’t going to have my students do game design and not do it myself.”

Find Kathleen Online:

Find her on Board Game Geek: funkdonut

Twitter: @mmmmmmmercury

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