The Tactical Thinking Cycle – A Gameschooling Explanation

Tactical Thinking Cycle

We define tactical thinking in gameschooling as:

A game that challenges students to make decisions based on currently available and frequently changing information

In episode 29 of the Game Schooler Podcast, we discussed tactical thinking at length in the School of Gaming segment. Doug framed the conversation by asking, “What are the benefits of tactical thinking?”

To explore this skill further, let’s examine another question: How often do youth get to make decisions in the school setting compared to outside of school? Any student with a device can select videos, music, games, and other media to explore. They are making several decisions based on rapidly changing information. Youth are often in control of their time most when they are not in school. And for teenagers who have the added responsibility of taking care of siblings or other family members, the opportunity to make decisions is multiplied exponentially.

I made an analogy to driving and being present. For tactical thinking to occur and develop, the gamer can not be looking in their rearview mirror or looking too far ahead through the windshield. One of my favorite aspects of tactical thinking for gameschoolers is that they are present in the moment to make decisions. “Game-based learning unplugged,” I stated rather ineloquently, “It’s taking the fun aspects of video games and bringing it into an unplugged setting- an environment to build all the other skills; it’s a meta-skill.” To that comment, Doug presented the Tactical Thinking Cycle (Kotecki, 2021).

Here it is:

  1. The ability to adapt,
  2. Make decisions quickly,
  3. Process information faster (internal notes allow for arguments in the brain)

As Doug stated, this cycle happens quickly, and the internal dialog framed by the events of the board game means the gameschooler will become more tactical as they play more games.

Not only did Doug produce a theory, he then instigated a challenge. When does tactical thinking occur in school? Outside of recess, phy ed, or other games, I could not think of tactical thinking happening in the school setting. In modern tabletop board games, youth have the agency to make decisions, and it is this repetitive process is the foundation for tactical thinking to develop.

Change happens. It’s constant. Wouldn’t we all want to be experts at dealing with change? Being highly tactical and mastering the skill of making decisions based on currently available information is a lifelong endeavor. It’s a skill that can be simulated and developed with modern tabletop board games.

References and Links

  1. Kotecki, D (Host). (2021, July 16). Silver and Gold [Audio podcast episode]. In The Game Schooler Podcast.

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