By: Ray Kimball
Founder and CEO
42 Educational Games Coaching and Design
I recently read Jane McGonigal’s Imaginable: How to see the future coming and feel ready for anything – even things that seem impossible today. Because McGonigal’s background is in gaming, I saw parallels between the book’s framework and the Reacting Community. Below are my Reacting takeaways from Imaginable. Each section has a graphic with McGonigal’s rules and summary of those rules, followed by my musings.
Given the current state of the world, it is really hard to focus beyond the immediate. But the tyranny of the present is exactly why McGonigal’s idea of envisioning the future is so critical. When so many of our assumptions about education have been upended, now is the time to see what the future might have in store for us. Why ten years out? From a Reacting perspective, ten years gives sufficient time for a game to go through the publishing process. A Reacting game that is only a glimmer of an idea now could easily be in a published status ten years from now.
Reacting is ridiculous! That’s not a disparagement of Reacting, but simple statement of fact derived from the state of higher ed. It is ridiculous to believe that students would collaborate out of class, read longer form pieces, and inhabit the personae of long-dead individuals. But that is precisely why Reacting is so powerful: it gives us a way to realize a different style of teaching. Imagine science classes playing Climate Change and Charles Darwin to understand both contemporary challenges and foundational debates. Imagine Chinese, French, or Latin classes playing Confucianism in China, Enlightenment in Crisis or Crisis of Catiline to practice their language skills and gain a deeper cultural understanding. Imagine American Politics classes playing Chicago 1968 and Food Fight to better grasp the complex interplay and occasional dysfunction of American governance. Reacting may be ridiculous, but it is also completely capable of “rewriting the facts of today.”
Start by looking at those future forces that will impact your students and potentially create a greater imperative for Reacting. Some of these forces might be a greater emphasis on open access textbooks, rethinking of traditional classroom design, or a shift in college demographics. As you look for these forces, look for Reacting allies who might also be stakeholders in Reacting’s establishment or growth at your institution. These might be a student Live Action Role Playing (LARP) group, a like-minded faculty affinity group, or a faculty development grant program. You may be surprised at how many Reacting-adjacent efforts there are in your backyard.
Above all, understand what your students need. Practicing “hard empathy” with them means seeing education through their eyes. The Marist Mindset List is a great tool for this. You may discover that students want games to tell under-represented stories like those of LGBTQ political figures or post-colonial governments. Using this approach, you can ensure that those challenges are mutually shared by all members of the educational community.
Reacting is in many ways a shared dream. The broad-based collaborations it inspires are unheard of. What are some options for your Reacting “call to adventure”?
- Attend a Reacting event. Whether it’s an in-person conference or a webinar, Reacting events are a great way to get a sense of what’s out there.
- Browse the Games section of the Reacting website. A powerful search function can help you find games you might otherwise miss.
- Write your own! Reacting has a growing wealth of resources to support future authors.
Let’s make Reacting truly Imaginable in education!
About the Author
Ray Kimball holds a Doctorate of Education in Learning Technologies from Pepperdine University and Masters’ Degrees in History and Russian Area Studies from Stanford University. He spent ten years on the faculty of the US Military Academy at West Point, advocating for broader adoption of active pedagogies like Reacting. He currently serves as the CEO of 42 Ed Games, a Reacting “Fellow Traveler” organization.
Blog Author Questionnaire
One word to describe faculty: Inspiring
Two words to describe your school: Armed Hogwarts
Three words to describe students: Ready for change
Four words to describe favorite games: Escape reality for now
Five words to describe Reacting: A community like no other