Rather than enjoying dinner and a movie out this past weekend, I coerced my boyfriend, Ben, to dinner and a board game at home. Our low key night entailed a quick walk down to Ben’s sister’s house to select a game. One thing was certain, with Isabella being an avid Star Wars fan, the game would have an epic theme. We narrowed it down to either Star Wars Battleship or Star Wars Life. The Game of Life: A Jedi’s Path won.
Although the game mechanics are very similar to the original Life version, I found the storyline to be much more imaginative and thought provoking. Players do not strive for marriage, children, or the accrual of wealth, but to develop the force within themselves. Will the young Padawan (Jedi in-training) choose to walk on the light or the dark side? Whether one becomes a Jedi Knight or Sith Lord the goal is to be the last man standing.
Rob Daviau and Reuben Klamer, the game designers, built many options and opportunities for choice into the game. Choice as a learning principle is best when offered from the start, (Gee 2004). I enjoyed getting to choose the following options throughout the game:
Life Skills: Intuition, Fighting, Energy, & Logic
Dark Path Shortcuts vs Consistent Light Path
I chose to be Choobakka of the Kaadu Clan and Ben was Luke of the Bantha Clan. Both Ben and I took short cuts on the dark side because the rewards were enticing. However, I took too many short cuts leading to my demise as a Sith Lord. Ben went on to become Luke the Jedi Knight who defeated me. Even though I know it was only a game, I felt bad that I chose the dark side. The games ability to stir such a deep moral question surprised me.
“Is the moral dilemma to choose light over dark an innate quest?”
Star Wars is the classic coming-of-age story. The protagonist faces a series of challenges, which force psychological and moral growth between youth to adulthood. This story resonates with all of humanity because we all have to make choices and decide what type of people we want to be(come). The Game of Life: The Jedi Path provoked far more thought about my life choices than I could have fathomed.
“Am I making choices that lead me toward the light?”
Players get to decide which life skills to gather throughout the game. The rule book briefly touches on different types of Jedis, but isn’t prescriptive. I would like to have seen more reasoning as to why I might choose one skill over another. For example I leaned more towards the skill of intuition, while Ben tended to chose logic. However, at the end of the game it didn’t matter what kind of skills we had, it only mattered how many total skills we gathered. I think it would be more meaningful to chose skills in order to become a specific type of Jedi over simply accumulating skills.
I did not mean to think so deeply about a board game, but I must say the game design got me thinking. In one hour, Life: A Jedi Path made the choice between light and dark very clear. It was a good reminder that our character in life is a summation of all our choices: large and small.
Gee, J. P. (2004). Situated language and learning: A critique of traditional schooling. New York: Routledge.