GSA Annual Meeting in Phoenix, Arizona, USA - 2019

Paper No. 97-2
Presentation Time: 8:35 AM


FORD, Trenity, BURKETT, Ashley, HULETT, Christina and ROARK, Erin, Boone Pickens School of Geology, Oklahoma State University, 105 Noble Research Center, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OK 74078

In seeking new methods of teaching basic paleontological principles, we have developed a board game that provides students with a way to experience the numerous pressures that led to the extinction of Pleistocene megafauna. The board game allows players to take on the role of a herd of mammoths, a pack of direwolves, or a tribe of early humans as they attempt to survive in a changing environment. Up to six students compete with each other to gather food and fend off aggressive fauna and natural disasters. Students are introduced to Pleistocene fauna through random encounters in the environment. These encounters function as risk/reward scenarios within the gameplay loop while also providing the player with an introduction to the fauna and their behaviors. Game systems drive direct interaction between the students competing as the playable species. The mammoths are the most lucrative source of food for both of the predatory playable species (humans and wolves), which creates a competitive interaction as well as modeling the pressures that were affecting megafaunal species in the time period (i.e. the overkill hypothesis). Environmental and climatological changes are also represented in the game-space. Expanding ice sheets and natural disasters are modeled in the game in order to add additional competitive pressure for the players while also teaching about the environmental pressures that forced the species to adapt and interact. A game system modeling the reproduction rates of the playable species illustrates the different abilities of each playable species to grow and maintain populations. Playtesting has shown that this system, when combined with classroom instruction, created strong information retention with the students as they were able to strongly correlate the information presented with the events that took place in the game.