Have you ever wanted to put yourself in the same shoes as historical figures who have changed history? Dr. Elizabeth Medley’s women’s history class got the opportunity this semester to act in a different perspective when they participated in the Reacting to the Past game.
During this game, each of the students enrolled in the class was given a specific person that has been significant in the evolution of women’s history. The game was set in Greenwich Village in 1913 because during that time, Greenwich Village was the most significant location when the major events took place.
Each student was required to take a questionnaire that asked them about their strengths and skill sets. A couple of people were given characters who Medley knew would have a more challenging time getting into character and portraying those opposite beliefs.
The goal of the game was for each student to try and persuade the rest of the class to vote their way for women’s suffrage or towards labor faction. Three students were assigned to persuade for the suffrage faction, three were assigned to persuade for the labor faction and the rest of the class were “indeterminates”, or villagers, who had to listen to each side and make their decision at the end of the game.
At the end of the game, the class took a vote for either the suffrage faction or the labor faction. The student could only vote by having enough Pip points. Pip points, or Personal Influence Points, were essential points each student was awarded after they performed an act for the game. One point was awarded for small acts, such as dressing for the character or wearing the assigned color for the faction you supported. The students were able to gain more points for organizing different events outside of class, such as the Torch Lit Parade or an art show, which was held on the last day of the game.
To be able to vote, each student had to have a minimum of 15 points. On the last day of the game, or Vote Day, the points of each faction were added up and whoever had the most was declared the winner.
The game continued to get interesting as each student got into their character more and more, having class discussions and trying their best to persuade each of the villagers to vote their way. The game took a turn when Vote Day was presented with a surprise when a couple of the villagers took a stand and offered a new stance or the Bohemian coup.
The Bohemian coup was a group of students who didn’t take a stand with either the suffrage faction or the labor faction. Because of this coup, the results of Vote Day were not what everyone was expecting. With everyone who supported the Bohemian coup, their total amount of pip points were 250 but they fell to the suffrage faction who had a total amount of 285 pip points.
Each student had their own separate end goal and a couple were given the task of being a wildcard, which gave them the chance to change the end of the game without anyone else knowing. Kevin Joachin was one of those students. He was given the role of Emma Goldman, an anarchist. His role was to relate to the others in the climate of mass resistance and also get the players to understand that they should fight for others and not their own faction.
In the end, Joachin decided not to vote for either faction. To prepare for this role, he had to do some research and make sure he understood his character.
“I had to immerse myself in a lot of research to act and think how Emma would,” Joachin said, “It required me to be knowledgeable of the time period and the other characters. The most interesting thing was relating to characters of the past who we normally radicalize in our politics today.”
The game ended this past Friday, but each student felt they learned more by being interactive and having to become someone else. If anyone has any questions about the game, you can contact Elizabeth Medley.