Blue: Who called the meeting?
Red: I did. We are telling professionals about how to use games to help students
Purple: Red is acting sus. Why would we use a mobile game to teach skills?
Red: Because games are fun, and why not incentivize students to play a game where you can meet your professional needs?
Blue: Self report. Red is full of himself.
*Blue has voted*
Red: Really? I just want to tell others about how to use games to build cognition, language, writing, and social skills.
Purple: Likely. If you aren’t drilling, are you really teaching anything?
*Purple has voted
*Red: Well, I tried.
*Red was ejected. Red was not the Impostor*
In a year where motivation for our virtual and in-person students has been near the top of the priority list, the need for incentivizing and diversifying our therapy has been key to maintain attention and have students buy-in to unique or unorthodox therapy activities. Mobile games have been on the rise in the past decade, but due to the Pandemic there has been an increase in the social use of mobile games to stay connected while also enjoying digital content. For our students who are technologically savvy enough with a phone, tablet, or computer, digital games can be a new source of therapy ideas (both individual and group) that will not only meet your target goals as a clinician, but will continue to engage your students across multiple therapy sessions.
Social Deduction Games: Controlled Task Environments
Innersloth’s Among Us is an online social deduction game that was released in 2018, but due to the Pandemic, the game’s popularity dramatically increased as a way for users to connect on a free gaming platform. This game can be downloaded using a phone, tablet, or computer and requires either a wireless connection or cellular data in order to play online. Like most social deduction games, it requires one group to be disguised as working with everyone while actually sabotaging the game to achieve their objective. In Among Us, the two groups trying to achieve their goals are the Crewmates and the Impostors. Crewmates are assigned a list of tasks to complete and find the impostors of the group. The Impostors are tasked with sabotaging, removing participants, and deceiving the group so they aren’t discovered. The Crewmates win if all the tasks are completed or have identified all of the Impostors. The Impostors win if they outnumber the Crewmates that are still alive. When a Crewmate is found “dead”, an emergency meeting is called, allowing each player still alive to discuss among themselves and vote a player out of the game. This is how Crewmates can get rid of Impostors and win the game. Here, students can use their language skills to either convince their peers or deceive their peers.
This game can be used to target a multitude of language goals at the same time, so it is perfect for grouping students together. This game can be used to teach following multistep directions, inference skills, social skills, reasoning skills, and problem solving skills, to name a few. This game could also be used by OTs to target writing skills with their older students, as players are required to communicate to one another during emergency meetings. Games can be relatively quick, which means you can have multiple playthroughs in one therapy session. There are two ways you can play the game: in a “private” room or a “public” room. A private room allows you, the clinician, to control the settings of the game and can limit who can join your game. This can be ideal, as you share your room code for your students to join the game you created. If you wish to add more players (which can help with allowing more time for you to ask questions to your students), you can then make the room “public” to allow other users on the app to join your game online. Since you are the host, you can also boot players who you don’t want to be a part of your game if they are not being respectful. There is also a way to play by yourself to learn the functions of the game, which can be useful when first downloading the app.
Digital Games: A Blank Canvas
If you do not feel comfortable with digital games, there are many physical social deduction games that could be used with a group of students when in person. Those include games like Clue, Resistance, and One Night Ultimate Werewolf. However, with social distancing, most of these games can’t be utilized as easily these days. There are ways to play these games virtually, but require some additional leg work in order to set the games up.
The greatest benefit to digital games is that they are a blank canvas for teaching new skills. As the facilitator, you can find the right game or situation to target the desired skill. After teaching the skills, there can also be a higher probability of carryover if the student decides to play the game on their own time. This is the rare instance where students can actually tell their parents the games they are playing are “homework”! Ultimately, the amount of skills taught using digital games is up to the comfort level and creativity of the clinician. Allied Health professionals are used to flexibility, and utilizing digital games is just a new way we can flex our own skills and grow in our professional delivery of new skills.
Social deduction games can create an environment that motivates the student to want to succeed. At the same time, we can deceive the students into what they think is a game while we target the skills we want. No one will suspect you. So don’t worry about any emergency meetings in your future. Your students will be pleased to learn new skills while working with you.
Author: Trevor Harris, M.A. CCC-SLP
Photo property of Innersloth