This week in my advising class we were transported to a futuristic world light years away from Milwaukee, Wisconsin to the planet Braxos. We didn’t have to board a ship or even write a single permission slip, all we needed was Brian Pops’ intricate game called Quandary. The game’s concept is simple, yet play is difficult to master which can be the mark of a great game… Chess comes to my mind.
At the start of the game you will be presented with the back story of these explorers who have settled on a distant planet of Braxos. Quandary jumps you right into the action and gets you transported to Braxos quickly. The story line is delivered in a cartoon style inspired by Japanese anime, which for my students was both fun and compelling.
Within Quandary there are four playable episodes and in each of them it is your job to help these colonists through their difficult times and hard situations.
We started on the third episode, Fashion Faction. The topic as the name might imply is all about the purple uniforms on Braxos. The school I teach at has a uniform policy so my team thought this would be the perfect mission to start on in Quandary. During the episode students had to work through the problems of another world about a similar issue that is near to their hearts, how they are allowed to dress.
Within Quandary the decisions you make alters the game. You have several advisers, angry citizens and close allies that will try to help and cajole you into doing what they want. My students loved their experience playing this game within our Advising class. After we played, and scored really low, we discussed the situations that they were confronted with in Quandary. It leads to fabulously rich discussions where students talked about grappling with being a leader. They struggled with the changing opinions of some of the citizens as well as how best to serve a diverse population who can’t seem to agree on anything.
What I noticed was that the 11 year olds that I teach started to have greater empathy for those who have to make decisions on a daily basis that affect many people like: teachers, principles, their parents, politicians etc. My students love the activity, and I would define it as a total success as well. Next time you are looking for a great advising activity think about Brian Pop’s Quandary as it is sure to be a hit with everyone involved. Quandary is a great example of how games are not just about engagement, but they are a way to achieve something that would be impossible with just about any other school activity: immersion.