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December 08, 1989 - Image 64

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1989-12-08

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

GAMES PEOPLE PLAY

SUSAN LUDMER-GLIEBE

Special to The Jewish News

A

n intense woman,
Lauren Isenberg
Zinn, spends a great
deal of time playing
with games. She also
likes to develop games, test
them, conduct research for
games and evaluate them.
Zinn, 30, is a consultant
who for the past year has
been working with an Ann
Arbor-based educational
game company, Aristoplay, on
a new board game for older
children. It's called Pollution
Solution.
"Our games are for the
literate, somewhat older
child," explains Aristoplay's
president, Jan Barney
Newman. Barney Newman
and Zinn — the company's
product development
manager — were both in-
terested in developing a new
issue-related game that was
both topical and fun.
The result? A board game
which requires players to
make informed decisions and
responses about power plants
and soil erosion, non-

64 F pAY, .QZCEMJ3ER

disposable diapers and a host
of other environmental ills.
- Pollution Solution, expected
to hit store shelves by
mid-1990 is unique in that it
is not a race game. "I try to
incorporate cooperation with
fun and excitement."
Aristoplay has quietly
develolped a $2 million niche
for itself in a • highly com-
petitive market. Aristoplay
games are sold to schools,
stores like FAO Schwartz and
museums like The National
Gallery in Washington, D.C.,
and the Metropolitan
Museum of Art in New York.
Zinn did graduate work in
philosophy in Toronto. She
spent her junior year at
Hebrew University. She holds
a doctorate in urban,
technological, environmental
planning from the University
of Michigan and earned an in-
terdisciplinary certificate in
gaming and simulation
studies.
"People are always amused
to discover that I have some-
one on the staff who has a
Ph.D.," says Barney Newman.
"Her field of expertise is
unusual."
In addition to her work for

Lauren
Isenberg
Zinn makes
a living
playing with
games.

n

Aristoplay, Zinn operates her
own consulting service,
Lauren Zinn Consulting.
Among her jobs, she has
worked on design and train-
ing projects for General
Motors Education and Train-
ing Center in Flint, the In-
dustrial Technology Institute
in Ann Arbor and Plante and
Moran in Southfield.
Gaming and game simula-
tion are methods that can be
used to explore awareness,
decision making and problem
solving. Gaming techniques
can be used in many ways, for
many purposes and for many
people — young and old.

Zinn is working on a new
project for one of the local
religious schools, Beth Israel.
"I'm going to be running a
game on teaching respon-
sibility to future genera-
tions," Zinn explains. "We're
hoping to get kids, teachers
and parents involved."
Zinn believes teachers,
children and parents don't
work together as they once
did. "This game is an oppor--
tunity to bridge that
triangular relationship," she
says. Aviva Panush, education
director at Beth Israel Con-
gregation is one of Zinn's
greatest supporters.
"When Lauren taught here
she had an extremely warm
relationship with her
students. It was such a
positive experience for them
they wanted her back year
after year."
Zinn's work at Beth Israel
displays an ethical compo-
nent. "For me as a planner
concerned about education I
want to work to make the
world a better place," she
says.
The games that Zinn
developed for her students in-
clude OVER-PASSOVER,

RESTORY, a frame game
which teaches significant
events in Jewish history and
critical thinking skills, and
PLUG — a Palestine Land
Use Game. For PLUG, the
class was divided into politcal
parties consistant with those
found in Isarel in the past.
Using a combination of
history, geography and
demography, students make
decisions about how to settle
immigrants and how to
develop the country. "I
created a structured environ-
ment for them. It was an op-
portunity to motivate," Zinn
says.
A simulation game like
PLUG has distinct advan-
tages over even complicated
board games. "One of the ma-
jor differences between a
typical board game and game
simulation is how much
weight is given to chance and
choice," Zinn says. "Board
games deal with discreet
facts. They're not related to a
larger context." By contrast,
gaming simulation allows for
autonomy and a view toward
the larger picture. And if Zinn
is to be believed, gaming
simulation, obscure as it may

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