Last year I introduced Boss Battles about half way through the year. It began as a simple dice roll game against Gen Robert E Zombie and Gen William T. Shermonster (1st Boss Fight Post). It was low tech and the students had fun with seeing the Hit Points being added up. That morphed into my Dreadsheets concept (My 1st Dreadsheets incarnation) which showed Battle Damage and automatically counted down the Hit Points. This then led to my Skirmishes (Skirmish Post) and Clashes (Clashes Post). I even have tinkered with doing away with tests and instead just treating the Boss Fights as the required Summative Assessments (here).
One interesting thing that has come up in every class is a few students want to BE the Boss. I figured out how to incorporate this into the Dreadsheets. A few students were able to be on a Boss Team and attack the other groups. With my 2018-19 class I switched up the narrative and the Battle Mechanics so this mechanic does not quite work. Still, even after learning the basic battle mechanics and narrative I had at least one student in each class ask to be the villain.
I have been pondering why these students would want to be the bad character. I went back to my roots and started thinking in terms of player types. Normally I would go directly to Marczewski’s Player Type Hexad but even he goes back to Bartle’s for a Type known as the “Griefer” which are a sub-type of the “Killer” Type. Killers derive motivation by acting upon other players in the game. Here is how Griefer’s are described on Wikipedia
A griefer or bad faith player is a player in a multiplayer video game who deliberately irritates and harasses other players within the game, using aspects of the game in unintended ways. A griefer derives pleasure primarily or exclusively from the act of annoying other users, and as such is a particular nuisance in online gaming communities.
Marczewski calls them arseholes (Marczewski’s Types) but I wouldn’t say that about students. Now that I have gotten to know the students better I think that the students that want to be the villains match the Griefer type. No, they are not arseholes or even bad faith players. What they want is a way to have an influence on other “players” in the class.
There are several considerations for this thought. From a game perspective this can be fairly easily worked into the classroom narrative. There are the Super Powers and Battle Mechanics that need to be determined. My biggest concern is to ensure that the villainous impact does not harm another player’s grade or other achievements in the classroom.
Here is my first thoughts on a Villains Guild I am calling The Disciples:
The Disciples would gain most of their influence over the other Players through the Battle Mechanics during Clashes and Boss Fights. I also wanted to bring in a bit of a fun “Secret” element modeled on the Secret Hitler board game. The Disciples will need to maintain secrecy or they would lose some of their abilities. They will still caucus with their original Guilds (Sentinels or Hunters) and will still keep earning charges or hearts.
One element that I am still working out is how to allow students to join the Disciples. Maybe a Google Form on the class website. Any suggestions would be appreciated.