Yesterday I assisted a 9th grade English teacher in running Lord of the Flies RPG.  It was based on the game Kingdom by Ben Robbins.  The purpose of the game was to have students create a community and then discover how a community can crumble based on various personalities.  As you can see by this Video it happens pretty quickly with the right motivations (Lord of the Flies Video).

The game is very simple students are separated into groups of 3-5  and each gets a role.  Power, Perspective, or Touchstone.  Power have authority, Perspective understand the group and predict what will happen at a decision point, and Touchstones are the voice of the people and their reaction.  They play scenes revolving around a key question called a crossroad.  Their roles place them at conflict and it helps them understand how communities work.  In Lord of the Flies, this is a major theme.  The theme of community and how and why it can fall apart.  The game should help students understand this concept but I wanted to make sure they could.  If you’d like to try the game with your class you can go to Ben Robbins website and purchase the system, or you can use the reference sheets and try it ours with your own scenario.  Here are the links.

Kingdom RPG   Lord of the Flies Classroom Setup

RESULTS:  The most important and stunning part of this are the results from students about understanding communities and Lord of the Flies

When asked, “What did you learn about the characters in Lord of the Flies from this activity?” here are some of the responses

  • “I learned that the characters can be ravenous and cruel in order to get what they want.”
  • “People are very selfish”
  • “I learned that the characters are really easy to make violent because of how they were described in the book.”
  • “That the people really don’t like following the rules and that they create crisis extremely fast.”
  • “I learned that the characters have different perspectives and personalities that make it hard for the group to come to a decision each time.”
  • “That conflicts with the characters could occur more easily than expected, and that it is harder to keep society organized than I believed.”
  • “I learned that my group was no different than the group of boys in “Lord of the Flies”

When asked, “What did you learn about communities of people in this game?”

  • “I learned that what the community might like is not what the power will always like.”
  • “It is much harder to keep everything in order than i thought before. Maintaining the peace is a difficult task.”
  • “They are incredibly fragile without something hoisting them up from collapsing (military, money, etc.)”
  • “I learned that communities are hard because people all have their own minds and can outnumber to kill someone. It’s hard to get people on the same page unless there is violence and teaming against one individual.”
  • “People will naturally break society down because no one will agree with some decision sometimes and others will want control.”
  • “That they are never satisfied and will never stop until everyone is happy, which will never happen because people have opinions.”
  • “I learned how people of different roles and societal classes have different opinions and therefore can result in either accordance or conflict.”
  • “Communities of people of similarities can even be divided among themselves. Sometimes if you don’t fully understand someone’s behavior, you may not know what they may do.”

When asked, “What did you learn about creating good drama in a book from this game?”

  • “I learned that you have to make tension and fights in order to give drama to your story.”
  • “There has to be some conflict in order to make it a good story line and keep the reader interested. If it is just success after success, the story begins to get boring.”
  • “I learned that you can change anybody’s perspectives or crisis to create extra drama and suspense in a book.”
  • “I learned that situations can turn bad at any moment”
  • “I learned that there are multiple ways to construct drama through conflict or crisis in different societies.”
  • “I learned how far people are willing to go to get the result that they want.”

These answers were exactly what I was looking for in the game.  These students clearly gained a better understanding of character motivation, conflict and drama, and the danger of societies without order and law.  These themes are the point of Lord of the Flies and through 1 hour and half time period, they clearly understood this concept from the game.  This game reached many of the Depth of Knowledge level 4 points very well.  Applying concepts of the novel, proving the themes of the novel to be true, and connecting the novel to a game and theme were all present.  It was a huge success and I hope many teachers try it as well.  If you are a teacher and have a chance to play with a classroom.  Please share your experience with me