6 thoughts on “General Beta Testing Feedback for the GSA Deck

  1. These cards are licensed under CC-BY-NC. However, many of the images sourced from Wikimedia Commons are licensed under CC-BY-SA, which means that all derivative works must also use this license. You should change the license of these cards to match the license of the Wikimedia Commons images.

  2. Thanks for the note. We’re trying to fix the commentary section and also see how to navigate the creative common’s features. As it stands, the DIY card section has only the CC-BY-NC option (as it is usually used by classroom scenarios). However, the actual GSA cards when viewed in the “card” do have the option of presenting the proper creative commons. Looks like the team has put them under CC-BY only, but we’ll change that.

  3. I’ve only run through the game once, and admittedly we played with too many people (the instructions didn’t make this clear but I’m assuming this is meant for 3-4 and we had 7 I believe), but we had two comments. First: the deck should be expanded to accommodate a larger number of people (once again, we recognize it would have played better with fewer!). Second, someone remarked after the game that he had felt no compulsion to read any of the cards, and we worry that in using this desk for science communication, this will also be the case for most of the general public. Once you locate the symbols you need to match, the additional block of text gets ignored. I wonder if reducing the amount of text would help, or making it funny, or perhaps there needs to be some game-related benefit to reading it.

  4. Ran through the game once this morning with two players. There is no incentive to collaborate with only two players thus it might be recommended that 3 or more would be better. It did bother me some that there was a winner and looser, a zero sum game. Ideally in science, everybody gets ahead through cooperation…perhaps another approach (maybe for a future project rather than revamping this one) would be to use a model similar to Pandemic, where the goal is to beat the game rather than each other through cooperation. Small logistical issues…how do you draw two cards when there is only one in the pile? (this occurred at the beginning of the game with the discard pile and at the end of the game with the projects pile). The burn pile got enriched with wildcards as they got repeatedly recycled into the resource pile over the course of the game while the discard pile became a large stack of lost opportunity. Perhaps that is the intention but it might be better to shuffle the discard pile back into the resource pile once the resource pile is depleted. The overall feel of the game was enjoyable and motivating. I agree with the comment above about there being no incentive to read the cards. Also, there was not always a one-to-one match of what was written on the project card and what the symbols called for.

  5. Played this game with 3 undergraduate Bio majors and me (Bio Prof) – we loved it! Here are some comments and recommendations:
    (1)a previous comment about no motivation to read cards led us to add the following: upon starting a project (ie. placing down a project card), the player must announce his project and what it will require (analogous to submitting a grant proposal). This worked well for us (plus we were curious about the projects), though to ensure this habit, other players could shout out “proposal denied” if a player placed a project card on the table and forgot to describe it before playing down resources (the consequence could be that the card goes into the Burn pile). The benefit of this type of rule is that the criteria for shouting “proposal denied” can be different for different play sessions: for. ex. if you want to force some education, you can require an articulate proposal with explanation of needs (set a high bar), whereas if you just want to play, you can just require an announcement of the project title and listing its needs (set a low bar).
    (2) We loved the societal value of the game – ie. the feeling of being a scientist is well transmitted (the ups, the downs, the collaboration, the thrills of completing a project, the larger commitments of some projects compared to others – the students got very attached to their projects and were thrilled to finish one off); one thing missing is the role of conferences, so we recommend adding another modifier card about attending a conference (this could lead to a benefit, such as “attend a conference: form a new collaboration with someone and get a get a free resource card for that collaboration-ie. use that card as a resource card stand in), or another one could be, “attend a conference: meet an expert who gives you useful feedback and finish a project with one less research technique” (given that GSA funds conferences, these seem like good additions!)
    (3) two more modifier card recommendations: “control did not work: discard a played research technique card” and “new post doc joins your lab and brings expertise – use card for any one research technique”
    (4) We played the game twice: the first time none of us engaged in colllaborations (perhaps we were too busy figuring out the game); the second time we decided to colaborate like crazy, and it made for a very different session – both equally fun. If you are learning the game it is useful to play two versions like this, because only after we did this were we able to see extra advantages of collaborations (ie. they protect you from some modifier cards!). Perhaps if there are a couple modifier cards that trigger collaboration (see our recomendation above), then this would happen more in the virgin round of the game, and players would see the advantage, and therefore more likely form collaborations upon subsequent game iterations.
    (5) Also we loved the idea of being able to make our own Project cards, so we recommend some guidelines on how to do this (ie. there must be limits to numbers of resource cards to match the deck of resources?)
    (6) Game Mechanics: it’s not clear from the rules, but we assumed that when you draw two cards, they can come from two different piles, as long as you announce beforehand what you will take.
    Can you discard a project card? (this comes up at the very end when there is only one project card that no one wanted to pick, until we decided it must be ok to discard a project card)
    (7)Many of the photos are excellent, and we hope they can be used on the real cards.
    Great fun! thanks!

  6. Had a chance to play several rounds of this as a 2 player and 3 player game. The 3 player game was two bio profs and a former undergraduate student. We had a great time with the game. Here are my thoughts:
    1) The theme is very well incorporated especially given how simple the game play is! I love how it is just a deck of cards with pretty simple rules. I can see how this would be a great give-away prize at conferences. If the rules can be simplified to be printed on one card and the back of a box, this will be a hit.
    2) I actually prefer the text of the cards to provide thematic depth without needing to be read for game play. Having to read small text for game play would decrease the fun and also be a barrier to accessibility. I would however, make the text and image of the cards unique. For example, if there are two zebrafish cards, you could have different facts about that model organism, and thus provide more educational value to the game. I do like the optional rule that Caroline Goutte mentioned for her group in reading the project text. While this is good for a first play-through, having to read small text for game play would detract the replayability.
    3) There are only two Arabidopsis cards for the plant species category. This makes plant specific projects much more difficult than other projects with the same point value and it makes it seem like the plant category was a last minute addition. Maybe add another plant species like rice or Mendel’s pea plant. Or better yet, change the plant category to photosynthetic and add in Chlamydomonas as both a single celled and photosynthetic organism.
    4) Other balance issues: Phylogenetic analysis is easier than the easiest 3 point card but is worth 4 points. Genome sequencing is worth 3 points but should only be worth 2 points given its probability. Project points should be based on probability to succeed and not total number of cards required.
    5) Rules confusion: we played by the rule that you had to pick two cards and only two cards from a single pile. The winner was always the one with the fewest unfinished projects regardless of how many finished projects they had. We also played so that you could not discard a project card but could keep it in your hand. Next time we will try drawing 2 cards from any combination of piles and see if that makes a difference. Perhaps subtracting the unfinished projects using the number of missing resource cards rather than total point value might also improve balance.
    6) Some minor issues: The deck info says there are 60 cards, but I had 63 after printing. I wonder if this is because the two Arabidopsis cards and the garden project was added at the last minute. Some cards are larger than others. Some of the text of project requirements did not match the icons and needs to be corrected.

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