• Educational Play Discourse and Design


  • About Me

    I strive to engage and support learning through games, escape experiences and game design.

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    Brian Mayer

    Gaming, Learning and Library Specialist

    I am a certified elementary school teacher and school librarian. I currently work as Coordinator of the School Library System and Media Services for an educational services agency that supports the libraries of 27 rural districts in western New York. I was named a 2015 Library Journal Mover and Shaker and am the co-author of Libraries Got Game (ALA, 2009) along with several books in the Teaching through Games Series (Rosen, 2015). I am also the designer of the award winning board game Freedom: The Underground Railroad (Academy Games, 2013).

  • Designs and Publications

    Thoughts and play with education in mind

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    Create Interactive Stories in Twine

    RosenYA, 2019

    Learn how to create, code and share your own interactive stories using Twine. Marrying story development with coding, Twine based Interactive Stories created provides an avenue to build rich, narratives while learning accessible, natural-language based coding. This book walks teens through how to approach, create and code interactive stories using the popular Twine program.

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    Teaching the Underground Railroad Through Play

    Rosen Publishing, 2015

    Slavery is a sensitive topic in American history. This book provides resources and lesson plans for a week-long unit covering slavery, the Underground Railroad, and the abolition movement built around an award-winning board game. In Freedom: The Underground Railroad, students will take on the role of abolitionists helping slaves reach freedom in Canada. Background knowledge, primary source documents, and detailed lesson plans on teaching slavery and using the game provide full support for instruction. Customized Freedom mini-game scenarios designed by Brian Mayer and Christopher Harris. Game: Freedom: The Underground Railroad. Brian Mayer. Academy Games, 2013.

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    Freedom: The Underground Railroad

    Academy Games, 2013

    Freedom is an award winning card-driven, cooperative game for one to four players in which the group is working for the abolitionist movement to help bring an end to slavery in the United States. The players use a combination of cards, which feature figures and events spanning from Early Independence until the Civil War, along with action tokens and the benefits of their role to impact the game.


    2013 Game of the Year - Drive-Thru Review
    2013 Theme of the Year - De Tafel Plakt! (The Table Sticks)
    2013 Board Game of the Year - The Wargamer
    2013 Winner Best Historical Game - Club Fantasci Board Game Awards
    2013 Winner Most Innovative Game - Club Fantasci Board Game Awards
    2013 Winner Best New Designer - Club Fantasci Board Game Awards
    2013 Winner Best Thematic Game - Board Game Quest Awards
    2013 Winner Cooperative Game - Board Game Quest Awards
    2013 Winner Best Co-op Game - Dice Tower Awards
    2013 Winner Best New Designer - Dice Tower Awards
    2013 Winner Best Game Theming - Dice Tower Awards

    2014 General Strategy Nominee - International Gamers Awards
    2014 Best Historical Game Nominee - Origins Awards
    2013 Golden Geek Best Thematic Board Game Nominee - Board Game Geek
    2013 Best Strategy Game Nominee - Dice Tower Awards
    2013 Most Innovative Game Nominee - Dice Tower Awards
    2013 Best Game of the Year Nominee - Dice Tower Awards
    2013 Game of the Year Nominee - Club Fantasci Board Game Awards
    2013 Best Co-Operative Game Nominee - Club Fantasci Board Game Awards
    2013 Best Thematic Game Nominee - Club Fantasci Board Game Awards

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    Print and Play Game

    Quark is a lighter weight card game based on particle physics. Players have two actions each turn they can use to collect quarks, decay quarks down into other quarks, annihilate quarks for energy or to create particles. Players attempt to influence and guide the swirling mass of the smallest bits of matter back together to form sub-atomic particles while also racing to build the biggest atom. At the end of the game, players score points for particles created, the best atom created and any energy they have left over.


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    Libraries Got Game: Aligned Learning through Modern Board Games

    American Library Association, 2010

    The high-profile topic of gaming in libraries gets thorough consideration from two educator-librarians, who explain exactly how designer board games—which are worlds apart from games produced strictly for the educational market—can become curricular staples for students of all ages. Drawing on their experience as game aficionados and developers of a nationally recognized program that brings games to school library media centers, the authors equip colleagues with everything they need to initiate a board game project with


    • Direct links between board games and curriculum
    • Suggestions for building a core collection across grade levels
    • Strategies for program development and implementation
    From promoting the idea to teachers and administrators to aligning specific games to state and national education standards, this book will help you build a strong collection that speaks to enhanced learning and social development and is just plain fun.

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    Other Publications

    Assorted Journals

    • Freedom: The Underground Railroad. Learning, Education and Games (Vol. 3), ETC Press 2018.
    • Great Escapes: Escape Room Games Use Problem Solving Skills to Boost Curriculum. School Library Journal, Oct 2016
    • Using Games to Connect Students with Content and Skills. Library Sparks, Nov 2015
    • Three Different Paths for Tabletop Gaming in School Libraries. Library Trends, Spring 2013
    • Games and 21st Century Standards - An Ideal Partnership. Knowledge Quest, Sept/Oct 2011
    • Board Game Design. School Library Journal, June 2011
    • "Board" with the Curriculum School Library Journal, March 2011
    • Child's Play: The Value of Board Games in Your Library. Children & Libraries, Winter 2010


  • Workshops and Keynotes

    Professional Development, Student Workshops and Keynotes drawn from nine years of experience implementing games, design and escape rooms in classrooms and libraries across grade levels.

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    Games and Education

    Engaging Curriculum Through Games

    Games are a participatory resource that provide safe environments for students to explore different strategies for engaging with curriculum within a framework that provides context and meaning.

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    Game Design in Education

    Rigorous Showcase of Content Mastery

    Non-digital game design provides a project based approach to demonstrating content understanding and mastery. With varying entry points that range from just getting started to crafting original games, design gives students the opportunity to both practically apply curriculum while also giving a non-traditional approach to synthesizing their learning into creating something new.

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    Escape Experiences

    Escaping into the Curriculum

    Escape Rooms provide a narrative driven, non-linear learning space that requires players to work together through problems and obstacles. Through the blending of narrative and puzzles, escape rooms provide unique opportunity to allow students to explore and use their curricular skills.

    Interactive Stories

    Create and Code

    Interactive Stories with Twine

    Marrying story development with coding, Twine based Interactive Stories provides an avenue to build rich narratives, while learning accessible, natural-language based coding. Participants will learn the foundations of creating interactive story games, foundational coding concepts, and the tools and skills needed to create and share games using Twine.

  • Connect

    Get in touch

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