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Reacting to the Past, subversive play, pedagogy


This piece examines the Reacting to the Past role-playing pedagogy in light of subversive play. Subversive play can allow the students an opportunity to explore ideas and roles outside of their social norms and realities. Designed to produce an emotional reaction, it increases the tension between the “rules” of society and the classroom and those of the game. Reacting to the Past asks students to inhabit a role and speak, write, and influence through critical analysis of primary documents and persuasive speeches. Through Immersive Dynamics, this gamified pedagogy allows players to discover new perspectives by seeing an event though another’s eyes. By examining my experience teaching three historical Reacting to the Past games, this paper illustrates the educational and social benefits of this pedagogy and of subversive play.