The Importance of Playing Games in an Archaeological Field School

Mychaela  slowly pulls a  two  of  diamonds  towards  her,  no attention drawn her way. That  was the last of the set of twos in the deck of cards. Now she has to signal to her partner,  Ian,  to win the game. Almost instantly  Ian yells “KEMP!” And the other team flings their cards on the table and shouts “How are you so  stealthy!?”

This example is somewhat  exaggerated,  but I want to give a  snapshot of our life in camp. Kemp is one of the many games that we play after dinner and on the weekend. The games we play  are important because they are a key component in building a functioning  archaeological  team. Through verbal and non verbal communication in the games  facilitate, we are able to learn about and bond with our teammates. For example, we know from this little short story that Mychaela is very stealthy (I don’t know how that’s going to help in the field but it could come in handy?). We use this knowledge of our teammates to learn how to communicate with one another. Games also serve another important role.  We are able to lower our inhibitions enough to not only to show those around us who we are as individuals, but to also to abandon the biases we might have about other people. Our own hesitation and the biases we hold color our perceptions and judgments and stand in the way of creating open communication. The type of learning and knowing that happens through games like Kemp or Werewolf or CatchPhrase helps to break down these barriers.

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The FMIA team playing CatchPhrase. Photo by Tiauna Cabillan, FMIA student.

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Photo by Tiauna Cabillan, FMIA student.

The reason I am writing about this today is because I have anxiety and these components allow for a comfortable space where I can speak out instead of freaking out. I had so many professors and teachers that did not know how to make a comfortable work space, which always led to a terrible experience, not to mention an unbelievable amount of attention on how I should ask a question rather than clarifying my confusion. That is why building a community through the use of games is so important to me and I hope this blog will influence others to try to make a safe work environment for their students.

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Photo by Tiauna Cabillan, FMIA student.

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