Advertisement

Social studies teacher develops board games

John Poniske says his creations are a teaching tool

August 18, 2010|By JENNIFER FITCH
  • John Poniske started creating his own board games 12 years ago and filled them with strategy and history. Three -- "Hearts and Minds," "Leaping Lemmings" and "King Philip's War" -- have now been published.
Jennifer Fitch, Staff Writer

WAYNESBORO, Pa. -- John Poniske considers his hobby to be not just fun and games, but a teaching tool.

Poniske started creating his own board games 12 years ago and filled them with strategy and history. Three -- "Hearts and Minds," "Leaping Lemmings" and "King Philip's War" -- have now been published.

The people who choose to play historical simulation games often use them as a starting point for further research, Poniske said.

"Finding out the minutiae of an event is a joy," he said.

Poniske occasionally uses the games in his classroom at Antietam Academy, where he teaches social studies. He said the war games are appropriate for ages 12 and older, and they take two to three hours to play.

"Games are a wonderful, unique opportunity to learn and entertain," Poniske said.

The "King Philip's War" board game generated controversy because American Indians were upset that the New England conflict was being portrayed as a toy, Poniske said. However, he argues the game can be educational about things like alliances between tribes.

Advertisement

Game concepts develop fairly immediately when Poniske hears about an event he wants to explore. He said he liked the strategic aspects of games when playing with family in his youth.

"Board games don't have a huge following," Poniske said, saying exceptionally good sales would between 5,000 and 10,000 copies.

However, there are signs that board games are increasing in popularity, he said.

Poniske said Neverland Games on Center Square in Waynesboro carries a great selection of games, including his own.

U.S. game aficionados are starting to embrace European-style games based more on choices than luck, he said.

Poniske said "Leaping Lemmings" is more playful than his history-based games. In "Leaping Lemmings," people can choose whether their lemmings stop to eat pellets within view of predator eagles.

Poniske is now finishing publication of "Lincoln's War," and he's developing games about the slave rebellion in Haiti and fur trapping. "Lincoln's War" focuses on the political drives of Abraham Lincoln vs. Jefferson Davis.

"They're trying to build the political will of their people and tear down the political will of their opponent," Poniske said.

The Herald-Mail Articles
|
|
|