Tuesday, March 6, 2007


I love playing games. Not like anti-social games where I attempt to get other people to do things to cause damage to themselves. I hate those games. They're bad. I like socializing games. Games you play with other people and have fun. You know, the kind of games we used to play in the 80's!
I work with children who have autism, and I use these games with them. Primarily, I use two games right now, but I'm working on adapting some other games. I'll let you know about these two for now.
First, I use a game called Abalone (google it). It's described as "SUMO Chess." The game is very simple, but the strategies that can be used are very complex. At least, they can be complex. When I play with my clients, I use the game to reinforce concepts that we're working on. Things like not whining and not gloating. If the client starts whining, I play harder. Same thing if they start gloating. If they display appropriate social skills, I play easier. Since the like to win at everything, this is a good arrangement.
Second I use a game called Fluxx. Fluxx is game with constantly changing rules. This game allows me to check for a client's ability to adapt to changing rules as well as reading comprehension and working with abstract concepts. To win the game you have to focus on what you actually have in your hand as opposed to what you want to have in your hand.
These Diagnostic tools are unoffensive to the persons with Autsim. The kids look at these games without prejudice and they open doors into their worlds. Just as with regularly functioning adults, children with autism do not deal well with direct input. There is just something about telling these children something directly that puts up a barrier in their brains and does not allow them to accept it. If the information is presented indirectly, the likelihood that that information will pass into the processing centers without prejudice is greatly heightened.
This brings me to my next game to tackle. I want to develop (or rather modify) an RPG system in order to put it in use with my clients. We do a lot of role playing anyway, and I want to make it a game. If you are role-playing in a psychological setting, it is very structured. There is a right and a wrong answer; that is, there are answers I want to hear. In a game setting, there are no right or wrong answers, there are only consequences. You can always start a new character, but in the game world, you'll always suffer or thrive because of your choices. If you do something monumentally wrong in a RPG town, those people will always remember you. If you do something good, they will always remember. If you do evil in the town, or are just annoying, they will still remember. Perhaps you will be run out of town when you next attempt to visit. Perhaps you will be given a parade. It all depends on what you've done in that town to deserve your reputation.
In Autism, it is very difficult to understand results of social snafu's. This is my goal in RPG and autism: To help children understand the results of their actions.

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