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  • Dr. Mar

Gaming the System: The Students as Game Designers

Updated: Nov 28, 2022

Who says that games are just meant to be played…In my MGNT 391 course, I empower students to take the lead and create the kind of cooperative leadership games that they’d like to play. Just as the world was blindsided by an unprecedented global pandemic, I launched Cooperative Leadership Strategy Games to inspire hope that the impossible could be possible. Facing sudden unforeseen challenges that come when a face-to-face course becomes 100% synchronous online mid-semester, students and I had to quickly pivot and re-imagine and design versions of their games that could be presented in a strictly online environment.... and with limited to no technological knowledge, experience, and resources. The results: amazing. [Stay tuned...inspiring stories of how they found power in their leadership voices is coming soon - beginning Feb 1 2023] told in their words are coming soon to this site...}

Now as we segued back to “class as usual,” the gaming project (in its fourth semester) continues with students able to collaborate face-to-face both in class and in groups outside of class to devise leadership-oriented games that were designed to educate players on essential leadership skills—teamwork, creativity, problem solving and time management, among others.

For this project, I partnered with Dr. Gabrielle Swab as well as gaming industry experts and executives. During the Fall ’21 semester, we worked with over 60 students on the creation of 10 original team leadership games. All told thus far, the gaming project has seen over 210 students create 36 games.

During this particular semester, game prototypes came in all shapes and sizes—both video game based as well as board game versions. Initially, students were introduced to the concept of cooperative strategy games by playing (in-class) “Forbidden Island.” The activity then motivated student teams to conceptualize their own leadership strategy projects. We saw everything from a game centered on a museum heist to one that focused on a mission to space to another that used the TU campus as the setting and background for the project.

Creativity abounded as students ultimately presented their games to the class as well as to a number of esteemed visitors. All presentations included a video of student teams playing their games—this helped to further solidify the experience of student-as-creator. Leadership is in some ways about turning a participatory mindset into a pioneering one and that is precisely what this project was designed to achieve.

Beyond the game creation and presentations, students also had an opportunity during the semester to participate in a 3D printing workshop so that they could develop their own unique game pieces. Yet another means of helping student creators establish agency and thus take control of their project—every single piece of their project.

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