Serious Fun: Game Design to Support Learning about the Surrender of Singapore, pp. 4 of 10

Two games were identified as potentially useful for addressing the learning goals and suggested as prototypes: 1) an educational game whereby players role-played as journalists trying to write about the events as they occurred during the war and 2) a game about constructing a time line of events leading up to the surrender.  In part because the second game could be created very quickly, it was chosen as the first to prototype. The game, Singapore Surrenders! is an adaptation of the commercial game, Timeline and includes the historical events that led up to Percival’s surrender of Singapore during World War II.

To play Timeline, players are dealt a hand of five cards. Players then take turns placing a card from their hand onto a table in front of them, indicating whether the event occurred before or after the cards already on the table, placing the card to the left or right of already-laid cards. The event cards that players use in Timeline are two-sided, and the dates of the event are only printed on one side of the card. While holding the cards, the players cannot see the dates, but when the card is played it is turned over so that the date is revealed. If the location is correct (e.g. if it was placed to the right of an event that happened earlier in time), the card stays on the table and the player’s turn is over and their hand size is reduced by one. If incorrect, the card is placed on the table but the player must then draw a new card so that they have the same number of cards in their hand as at the start of their turn.

Developing the Singapore Surrenders! version of Timeline was straightforward. Based on the events identified as significant by our study of the fall of Singapore, we selected 50 events leading up to the surrender. We aimed for 50 events to ensure that four to five players would have a sufficient number of cards to play with. The 50 events that were selected were then made into cards, including accurate times/dates for each event, creating brief descriptions for each event to give students additional relevant information, and hiring artists to lay out and create the graphics for each card.

An Inspiring Quote

"[Open-mindedness] includes an active desire to listen to more sides than one; to give heed to facts from whatever source they come; to give full attention to alternative possibilities; to recognize the possibility of error even in the beliefs that are dearest to us."

~ John Dewey, How We Think

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