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Reacting to the Podcast

Reacting to the Podcast

By Kelly McFall
Longform interviews and features about Reacting to the Past. I'll talk with game designers, Reacting veterans and newcomers with interesting experiences and ideas. You’ll get new ideas about how games work, how to use them in your classroom, and about the Reacting community in general.
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Jon Truitt and Stephany Slaughter on Mexico in Revolution, 1912-1920
I first played the Mexican Revolution game at Barnard in, I think,  2015.  I have a very clear memory of someone (I don't remember who) taking advantage of a distraction to sneak around the back of the room to steal the entire Mexican treasury.  Needless to say, that someone wasn't me.   And, again needless to say, I lost that game.   That's a particularly vivid memory. But it reminds me of all the many things I learned about the Mexican Revolution from playing the game.   So I'm thrilled that Norton decided to publish the game.  It appeared a few months ago in a substantially revised and improved version (quite an achievement, since it was a great game when I first encountered it). So I asked Jon and Stephany to be on the podcast to talk about the game. We chat about the way the game has evolved over time, about how best to prepare as an instructor to play the game, and about what aspects of the game are most likely to challenge students. And we discover briefly that Stephany and I both attended Ohio State University for our doctoral degrees (even if I was just a few years earlier than she was).  
49:55
September 24, 2020
Remembering the Summer of Reacting
If you're anything like me, you rued the cancellation of the 2020 Annual Institute and wondered what could possibly replace it. Well, that was the Summer of Reacting.  And was it ever cool.   Today I talk with Jenn Worth, Maddie Provo and Tony Crider about how Reacting tried to fill the void left by the Annual Institute, what we learned from a summer spent on-line, and what plans exist for the fall and winter.    It reminds us of the way empty spaces can be filled with something new and improvisations become opportunities.
49:22
September 17, 2020
An interview with Amy Curry
Play a game about a plague in the middle of a pandemic?  Who would want to do that? Lots of people, it turns out.  So I thought we should talk to Amy Curry, the designer of 1349,:  The Black Death Comes to Norwich.  In our interview, we chat about why Amy decided to write a game about the topic, how the game evolved over time and how it changed when Amy started teaching it on-line. But Amy is also one of Reacting's resident experts at running asynchronous games.  So I asked her for tips and warnings about taking games designed to be played in-person and running them on-line. Amy had fascinating things to say about both topics.  I can't wait to play her game myself. And she made me feel just a bit more at ease about running games on-line in my own classes.
50:01
September 10, 2020
What preceptors want you to know about their role
Every couple weeks, there's a question on the facebook faculty lounge about how to recruit, compensate and utilize student preceptors.  A few, or a lot, of faculty then respond.  But we never hear from students themselves. This episode lets you do just that.  Leanne Vastbinder, Jessica Howell and Elliot Morelli join me to talk about why they decided they wanted to be a preceptor, what they've learned from the experience, and how they want to work with professors.  It's worth listening to the entire interview.  But if you're considering asking students to work with you, please listen to at least the last 10 minutes.  What Leanne, Jessica and Elliot have to say there is powerful and important.   This is the last podcast of season 1.  I'll be back in a few weeks with interviews with Amy Brown Curry, Jenn Worth, Pamela Walker and Martha Attridge Bufton (last year's "Brilliancy" prize winners), and others to be named later.  If you have any topics or people you'd like me to address, just let me know.
48:51
July 31, 2020
Robbie Goodrich on writing games about difficult topics
The Reacting community has had many discussions about playing and running games involving controversial or difficult content.  Inevitably,  after a break in the conversation, someone will say "But what about the Weimar game?" Today's guest is Robbie Goodrich, professor of History at Northern Michigan University and author of said Weimar game.  He and I had a fascinating discussion about how the game came about, how it has changed over time, and why the label "the Weimar game" is really important.   If you are going to run Weimar, I would suggest you view this interview as an extention of the Instructor's Guide. It will give you a better sense of how to imagine the game and to respond to student concerns.  But even if you won't ever play this particular game, Robbie has great things to say about the process of working with the Editorial Board and about thinking through hard questions as you write or run a game.  And, in a world in which the bookshelves at Barnes and Nobles are filled with titles about the rise of authoritarianism, thinking about a game about how democracies work, and don't, is a good in itself.
56:24
July 23, 2020
Nick Proctor talks about the REB
Ever wonder what happens behind the Reacting Editorial Board curtain?  Or just confused about what REB stands for? This week I chat with Nick Proctor about the Reacting Editorial Board.  Nick got into Reacting very early and has been an active participant for years. He's an author, and sometime he'll be back on the pod to talk about his experiences writing games.  But today I asked him to talk about his role helping game authors improve their games and moving them toward publication.  We talk about why the REB exists at all, what it does (and doesn't do) and, most importantly, how you can participate.   This is especially important for anyone thinking about or in the process of writing a game.  But I hope everyone in the community can benefit from learning a little more about how Reacting works.
31:03
July 16, 2020
An Interview with Mary Jane Treacy
For years after I first played Mary Jane Treacy's Greenwich Village game, Judith Shapiro, the former president of Barnard College, called me Emma (for Emma Goldman) whenever she saw me.  Our experience playing the game was that memorable. A second edition of GV is now in the works.  In this interview, I talked with Mary Jane about how she became a game author, what led her to invent Personal Influence Points, about her other games (Paterson and Argentina) and about what will be new in v. 2.0 of GV. The informal tagline for this podcast is "Great Guests, a Pretty Good Host and Good Enough Sound."  That last part is particularly appropriate for this episode.  There was a short somewhere in the system and there's a bit of crackle now and then during the episode.  Despite extensive editing, it's a little more obvious than I'd like at times.  But Mary Jane was so interesting I decided to go live with the episode anyway.  So--pretend you're a teenager listening to a baseball game on AM radio when there's occasional lightning in the area (and now you know just a bit more about how I spent my time growing up).
51:25
July 8, 2020
John Moser on writing games about war and peace
In this episode I talk with John Moser, the author of the Japan and July Crisis games and co-author of the Yalta game.  We talk about how he learned about reacting, how to write games about diplomacy and politics, and his favorite Reacting story.
41:40
June 25, 2020
An Oral History of the RttP Annual Institute
On what would have been the 20th RttP Annual Institute, Mark Carnes, John Burney, Pat Coby, Jenn Worth, Michaele Ferguson, David Worthington and Violet Lumani reflect on how the conference came to be, how it's changed since it began, and why it's so meaningful to them.
01:06:12
June 14, 2020