Jason Bodnar has Element Poker for School | Episode 109

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Jason has been teaching high school science for 13 years and enjoys spending time with his 5-year-old daughter when he isn’t designing games or running the board game club at school. He also loves playing the piano and going to concerts. Jason started Engage Games about a year ago with the goal of developing games that help students become engaged in content in a fun and unique way.


A regular day for Jason starts with getting to the school he teaches at in Indiana and teaching his classes including physics, AP physics, computer science and an advanced topics class with his friend. Jason also runs the board game club and has over 100 games in his classroom. After school he likes to spend time with his dog, ride his bike and loves to play the piano.

A story of a time when things didn’t go so well for Jason comes from when he was developing his game element poker. He started testing his game on his class and the class were easily confused by it as the game was too complex. This helped Jason really refine it from there and eventually get it out on Kickstarter, allowing him ultimately to get from A to B.

A story of a time of success comes from his board game club and empowering his students. He allows his students to take home games and has students teaching other students the complex games he has. He attributes this to being able to take risks and building relationships with the students.

When Jason started getting into board games, he thought it wasn’t that complicated… He wanted to develop a game based on a chemistry lab and instead of it being just a card game it was a full board game. He realized that this was too much and you must start simple.

Jason would recommend to anyone thinking of creating a game to play games and start with developing a simple card game which is a great basis to build upon. Jason would be more than happy to help if anyone has any questions, he would also recommend Jamey Stegmaier whose website is great for resources, he would also recommend the podcast Boardgame Design Lab.

When it comes to gamification Jason would recommend starting small and starting simple and not giving up, even one game a year is better than none. If everything is predictable to your students, then you’re not captivating them. Just give it a try.

Jason would recommend for John Coveyou from Genius Games to be on the podcast, he has been inspiring for Jason as he also began as a teacher.

The book Jason would recommend would be ‘The Board Game Design Lab Advice Book’ as it was really helpful and has page to page advice from experts in the field.

Jason’s superpower is being fun! He thinks it’s important to take on the mentality that everything can still be fun while taking on something unique.

Jason’s favorite game at the moment is the Unmatched: Battle of Legends and he plays it almost every weekend with his friends.

One effective way Jason was able to demonstrate what the students have got out of certain game-based experience was by getting them to journal. A simpler way to show what the benefits of game-based learning are by looking at the goal of the game, and identify if it ties into what the students want to learn.

We can find Jason on Facebook on his page Engage Games, on Instagram as @EngageGames and on Twitter as @EngageGames.


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