Friday, March 7, 2014

SIGCSE 2014: Board games in CS2

I'm at SIGCSE for the first time and just saw a cool paper talk about including board games as part of CS2.  The group wound up using Quoridor, a combinatorial game. 

In fact, most (if not all) of the options they considered were combinatorial games.  This makes a lot of sense when you realize they were looking for the following properties:
  • well-established, but obscure (strategies are known and discussed online, but the students probably didn't already know the game)
  • simple rules
  • non-violent
  • race/gender/culture neutral
  • discrete
Students were put into two types of groups:
  • "Engine" groups: Implemented the ruleset
  • "Player" groups: implemented a strategy
The player groups still had to keep track of much of the board state themselves.  Instead of getting the entire game state for each turn, they were just given the most recent change.

It was a great talk and very interesting.  One of the main takeaways from the group is that they would remove the engine group next time and just have all the players working on implementing players.

Here are the paper and the project's website.  There are resources for using their materials, with support for other games aside from Quoridor!

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