Academic Games

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Academic Games
Type Non-Profit Organization
Predecessors National Academic Games Project
Founded 1991
Website http://agloa.org

Academic Games is a competition in the U.S. in which players win by out-thinking each other in mathematics, language arts, and social studies. Formal tournaments are organized by local leagues, and on a national level by the Academic Games Leagues of America (AGLOA). Member leagues in eight states hold a national tournament every year, in which players in four divisions compete in eight different logic-based games, but only six of these at the National level. Some turn-based games require a kit consisting of a board and playing cubes, while other games have a central reader announcing questions or clues and each player answering individually.

History[edit]

"Equations" by Layman E. Allen (circa 1969)

Before the existence of AGLOA, tournaments were held by the National Academic Games Project founded by the creator of many of the games. The earliest tournaments, in the late 1960s, were held on or near the campus of Nova High School in Davie, Florida. Nova was the beta test site for the game "Propaganda" and others. Many AGLOA leaders were involved with NAGP. The new league was created partially because of personal conflict with Robert W. Allen. Allen later sued the AGLOA for copyright, trademark, and tradename infringement.[1]

Academic Games Leagues of America was founded in 1991 to encourage the use of Academic Games as an educational tool and as a scholar competition. Many of the games used in tournaments, however, were created as early as in the 1960s and 1970s. Most of the games played at tournaments are available from Wff 'N Proof Learning Games. Brother Neal Golden of New Orleans is the current board president of AGLOA; Larry Liss of Palm Beach, Florida is the current Executive Director. Other board members represent Academic Games leagues in Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia.

Divisions[edit]

Academic Games players compete with other players in their own age group. These are the four age divisions in the league.

  1. Elementary - Grades 6 or below
  2. Middle - Grades 7-8
  3. Junior - Grades 9-10
  4. Senior - Grades 11-12

However, there is no restriction against playing one of your players in a higher division. Several teams have won national championships in the senior division, even though half their players belonged, agewise, in the junior division.

Games become more challenging as a player progresses through the divisions. There are often two variations of the games: basic and adventurous. Basic games have no variations, or special demands players can make on game solutions. Adventurous gaves have a series of variation possibilities that may apply and increase in difficulty as players age.

Games Played[edit]

Six games are played in official AGLOA tournaments. Some local leagues also play other games such as On-Words (a simplified version of LinguiSHTIK) and WFF 'N PROOF (the so-called "Game Of Modern Logic", which teaches symbolic logic and the use of well-formed formulas).

Math Games[edit]

Two math games, Equations and On-Sets are played at AGLOA tournaments.

Equations[edit]

Equations is a mathematics game created in 1965 for 2-3 players. The game uses a playing mat with Forbidden, Permitted, and Required sections and 24 cubes, each labeled with numbers and mathematical operations. At the beginning of each "shake", one player uses up to six cubes to set a "goal." All players must use the remaining cubes to devise a solution that equals the goal or win by challenging an impossible board + goal situation.

Gameplay can become more complicated through the use of "variations" called on the game. Applicable variations differ by the player's age division. The game progresses with each player moving one cube on their turn, or alternatively challenging that they can create a solution with the cubes in play, that a solution was possible on the last turn and the player before had missed it, or challenging that it is impossible to create a solution with the cubes available. When a player calls a challenge, it is called against the player who most recently completed their move.

In a three player game, the indifferent player may choose who he sides with in the case of a challenge. A player who correctly challenges another player wins the game. The loser of a game gains two points, The winner six, and the sider (if he sided with the winner) gains four or two (if he sided with the loser). Equations games become more intricate with the use of factorials, vulgar fractions, and even logarithms, in the Senior division.

On-Sets[edit]

On-Sets is a board and cube game that teaches basic logic and set theory. This game also uses a deck of 16 cards that is used to make the "Universe". Each card contains a different combination of colored dots. The cubes contain numbers, colors and logic operators.

Players learn logic concepts such as union and intersection, and learn to use restrictions such as subset. Variations can be also be used in On-Sets games. A player wins by using the cubes in resources to create a logical statement which equals the goal set using the numeral cubes. Challenges and multiplayer games work in a similar way to Equations game.

WFF 'N Proof[edit]

WFF 'N Proof is a board and cube game that was created by Professor Layman Allen in 1961 to teach the basics of symbolic logic.[2] It is played with cubes that contain various symbols. The game board contains a required section, a rules section, and a premises section. To win the game, you have to write a proof, using the cubes to create "wff's" and the rules. This game is now competed in at the AGLOA National tournament, beginning in the 2013 tournament.

Language Games[edit]

LinguiSHTIK[edit]

LinguiSHTIK is a technical game that teaches language arts and linguistics. The game has a playing mat and cubes which are imprinted with the 26 letters of the alphabet.

A player has to create a word using the letters available, and the word must be used in a sentence that matches the Demands called. A demand specifies something about the sentence or word, such as number of clauses, part of speech, number of letters, etc. Challenges in LinguiSHTIK work similarly as in the other cube games with the exception of a forceout, which is called when moving any cube would result in a Challenge Win. Some concepts taught in LinguiSHTIK include sentence patterns, clauses, grammar, and verbs.

The game has elements similar to the popular word game Scrabble but adds a different element of play through grammatical demands and the shared letter pool.

Propaganda[edit]

In Propaganda, clues are read to all players by a central reader. Each player must decide, from a list, which persuasion technique that clue used. There are several different sections of Propaganda techniques; the reader also specifies which section the persuasion technique is listed in.

Different leagues have different scoring methods, but the official AGLOA scoring involves a "bold" and "cautious" rating method. If you rate your answer "bold", then you receive four points for a correct answer, or you lose two points for an incorrect answer. If you rate your answer "cautious," then you receive two points for a correct answer, however you lose nothing for an incorrect answer. A round consists of nine questions, so the highest score possible per round is 36 points, while the lowest is -18 points.

Most Propaganda clues involve statements that are likely to be heard in advertising or politics. There are six different Propaganda sections, but only four specific sections are used in each season. Sections A, B, D, and F are being used for the 2009 - 2010 season, and B, C, D, and E are used for the 2010-2011 season. For 2011-2012, the sections are A, B, C, and F. For 2012-2013, the sections are A, B, D, and E. For 2013-2014, the sections are A, C, D, and F. Here are all the Propaganda techniques, listed by section.

Propaganda Techniques[edit]
# Section A Section B Section C Section D Section E Section F
'Techniques of Self-Deception' 'Techniques of Language' 'Techniques of Irrelevance' 'Techniques of Exploitation' 'Techniques of Form' 'Techniques of Maneuver'
1 Prejudice Emotional Terms Appearance Appeal To Pity Concurrency Diversion
2 Academic Detachment Metaphor/Simile Manner Appeal to Flattery Post Hoc Disproving a Minor Point
3 Drawing the Line Emphasis Degrees and Titles Appeal to Ridicule Selected Instances Ad Hominem
4 Not Drawing the Line Quotation out of Context Numbers Appeal to Prestige Hasty Generalization Appeal to Ignorance
5 Conservatism, Radicalism, Moderatism Abstract Terms Status Appeal to Prejudice Faulty Analogy Leading Question
6 Rationalization Vagueness Repetition Bargain Appeal Composition Complex Question
7 Wishful Thinking Ambiguity Solutions Folksy Appeal Division Inconsequent Argument
8 Tabloid Thinking Shift of Meaning Technical Jargon Join the Bandwagon Appeal Non-Sequitur Attacking a Straw Man
9 Causal Oversimplification --- Sophistical Formula Appeal to Practical Consequences --- Victory By Definition
10 Inconceivability --- --- Passing from the Acceptable to the Dubious --- Begging the Question

Social Studies Games[edit]

Presidents[edit]

A central reader announces three clues about a particular U.S. President. Each player must individually write down which President the clue describes. Players who answer correctly on the earliest clue get more points than players that answer after more clues are given. The first clue is worth 6 points, the second is worth 4 points, and the third is worth 2 points. In Michigan and West Virginia, the point system is slightly different. The first clue is worth 3 points, the second is worth 2 points, and the third is worth 1 point.

In the Elementary and Middle divisions, only a portion of presidents are used per season. For those divisions, ranges switch between presidents 1-24 and 25-43 every other year. In Junior and Senior divisions, however, all the presidents are used every season. During a tournament, players are assisted by a gazetteer which has each presidents name, birthdate, birthplace, and other basic information.

World Events[edit]

This event consists of a "current events" round about events from the past year, both foreign and domestic, and a "theme round," which changes yearly. In the current events round, players may wager two, four, or six points after being given a broad category (such as "international politics" or "arts and entertainment").

The theme round is played out in an event called "Lightning Round". In this, wagers are already set for players with six questions being worth two, six being worth four, and six being worth 6 and also increasing in difficulty for a possible point total of 72. Past themes have included the American Civil War, the 1970s, the history of NASA, the Mesoamerican civilizations (Aztecs, Incas, Mayas), and World War I.

This game was originally known as "World Card."

The Theme of the 10-11 is Australia. Theme Round 11-12 consisted of question regarding different aspects of the Supreme Court of the United States. The theme for next year's tournament, 2012-13 will be about the American Revolutionary War. During the national tournament, players vote on a theme for the tournament after next i.e. the theme of Australia was voted on during the '08-09 tournament.

Terminology[edit]

A spectator at an Academic Games tournament will hear a lot of jargon being thrown around that he or she may not be familiar with. Here are some of the most common AG-related words and their meanings.

  • Challenge Win or Now -- A player calls Challenge Win when he can create a solution using the cubes in play, and optionally one more cube from resources. It can also be called C-A-flub or A-flub in classic version.
  • Challenge Impossible or Never -- Challenge Impossible is called when a player believes it is impossible to create a solution, because of a previous player's move. The player it was called against must try to create a solution, and show that there was a correct solution possible. In classic version, it is called a P-flub.
  • Demand -- A LinguiSHTIK demand can be called by stating the name of the demand and placing a green or black cube in the "Demands" section of the playing mat. The word and sentence in a player's solution must meet all demands called in that shake.
  • Force Out -- In the case that a game is not finished within the time limit, or that no possible moves can be made that would not create a "Now" or "Never" situation, the game goes into a force out. During a force out, players are given two minutes to create a solution. Players with a correct solutions earn a small amount of points, and the ones with an incorrect solution receive none, or the minimum possible for that round.
  • Goal -- Equations and On-Sets require the first player to use cubes from resources to set a goal. This is what players try to achieve a solution to throughout the shake
  • Resources -- Resources are the cubes that are rolled at the beginning of each shake.
  • Shake -- One match of a cube game is called a shake. A shake can last anywhere from a few minutes to an hour depending on the cubes rolled and the players involved.
  • Solution -- A player uses the cubes in resources to create a solution that equals the goal. A solution must be written on paper. After a solution is presented, other players check that solution.
  • Stall -- As a courtesy, players say the word "stall" before flipping the one-minute timer during their opponents turn. Most actions in the games have a time limit, ranging from 15 seconds to three minutes. Surpassing the time limit usually carries a small penalty of one point.
  • Universe -- At the beginning of an On-Sets shake, one player randomly lays out between six and fourteen unique cards containing colored dots. This collection of cards is called the universe.
  • Variation -- In Equations and On-Sets, players can call a total of three variations that affect that shake, or six in the Senior division. Variations are intended to make the game more interesting and more challenging for experienced players. Some examples of variations are "wilds" where one cube can represent another cube, "upside down", where an upside down number is interpreted as the numbers opposite, etc.

National tournaments[3][edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]