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Whitman’s First Ever Game Expo Showcases Student Learning

By Mónica Hernández Williams

Photography by Ethan Swihart and Matthew McKern

Three students playing a handmade board game.

Before heading out for their winter break, some of Whitman College’s newest class of Whitties took part in the college's first-ever Game Expo.

Students in the First Year Seminar Games learning community filled the Young Ballroom in the Reid Campus Center to introduce and play board games they created as a final project for the course: Exploring Complex Questions. It is part of Whitman’s First Year Seminars which are designed to immerse students in deep thought and transformative conversations while helping students gain the skills needed to succeed in college.

In the Games learning community, students spent their first semester at Whitman learning about the philosophical and psychological aspects of socializing through playing games. They looked at games through various academic lenses and explored complex questions with a team of faculty from across disciplines, including Professor of English and General Studies Sharon Alker, Senior Adjunct Instructor of General Studies Tim Doyle, Associate Professor of Physics Moira Gresham and Professor of Mathematics Albert Schueller.

“When I was assigned this class, I didn’t know what on earth I would be learning,” said Sophia Freeman ’27, who is from Corbett, Oregon. “When I started reading the textbook, I realized there are a lot of things that we can learn from a simple board game—like ours about Lakum Duckum—that can be applied to life.”

Diversity in Games

When designing their board game, some students were inspired by their intended major or career ambitions, while others themed their game on campus experiences. One group of students even took a globally inclusive approach with a game that honors the different languages spoken on campus.

“We were playing a different game about guessing random words when we realized we all speak a different language, so we thought ‘why not make a game that celebrates intercultural communication,’” says Amy Li ’27, who intends to major in Biochemistry, Biophysics & Molecular Biology.

Board Game Bonanza

Seasoned strategists and casual players enjoyed the creativity that first-year students brought to the playing table. In the spring, these students will take what they’ve learned and apply it to the next seminar in the series: Making Powerful Arguments. Read more about First Year Seminars at Whitman College.

Published on Dec 15, 2023
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