Frankel Jewish Academy is proud to present the first ever Rabbinic text learning game.
The aim: To enhance the learning of Jewish texts by making a compelling game that motivates, engages, and allows students to play.
The plot: (based on Masechet Gittin 56a) The player has to help Rabban Yochanan ben Zakkai escape Jerusalem, that is besieged by the Romans, so he can talk with General Vespasian. The Jewish zealots (biryonim) are refusing to let Jews flee the city, wanting them to stay and fight. The player must arrange a secret meeting with Abba Sikra, the head of the biryonim and nephew of Rabban Yochanan, in order to escape the zealots.
There is another important quest though…to save parts of the oral Torah that are threatened from being lost amidst all the turmoil. The player needs to meet with Sages of that time to discover more about the evening Shema (based on the first Mishnah in Masechet Brachot) and when it is said.
The climax is the meeting with General Vespasian who will grant Rabban Yochanan ben Zakkai one request….
The Pedagogy: We are developing an idea called ‘blended gaming’ where games and game play enhance the learning of Jewish texts. The game is a gateway to further text learning. We have a resource section that has the texts featured in the games, as well as lesson plans about how you may want to use the game. Certain feature such ‘educodes’ were designed with educators in mind. This is an experiment in Jewish gaming and we would love you feedback, comments and contributions on them.
The Process: We have been collaborating with Michigan State University who have a world class Games for Entertainment and Learning (GEL) lab. They were instrumental in seeing our vision through and executing it. This game was used live in class in fall of 2013. Significant updates were made throughout the year until we arrived at our launch version. We hope you enjoy it!
The future: Producing this game has been an adventure in itself, and a steep learning curve. We are eager to receive feedback from educators as to the usefulness of such an endeavor. Currently we are working on the sequel, where Yavneh will need to be rebuilt. The sequel will be even bigger and more interactive than our first game. It is due to be finished Jan 2014. Stay tuned!