Saturday, December 31, 2011
Lehrer als Superhelden? Ein Spiel!
A Mobile Game Puts New York City Teachers in Hero's Tights
New York Times (School Book Conversation), Oct. 25, 2011, 4:58 p.m. By Anna M. Phillips
A typical superhero throws punches, not paperclips, but a typical superhero is also not a New York City public school teacher.
A new game, The Teachers of New York City, changes that, turning public school teachers into heroes and heroines who can advance from one level to the next by opening closed schools and cleaning out Tweed Courthouse, the headquarters of the city’s Department of Education.
Available on iPhones and iPads, the game originated in Philadelphia, where most of its founders live, and has now been adapted to New York City’s politics and geography.
“We wanted to make heroes, and we thought of teachers,” said Rand Lu, 31, one of the game’s developers.
“With all the things going on with teachers, the layoffs, the budget cuts — and it’s not just in New York, it’s all around America — we figured that if we did a game it might get people’s attention,” he said.
The New York City game is pretty straightforward. Public schools are shuttered, hung with bright red signs that read “Closed,” and are blocked by rocks, wood and other debris the teachers must remove.
Mr. Lu likened its simplicity to Angry Birds, the popular mobile game, but said that if it generates enough interest, he plans to expand it into a fuller story called, The Rise of the Bad Teacher. (He has already sketched out some of the details. In the longer game, a formerly upstanding New York City teacher is driven crazy by constant budget cuts. Using his knowledge of computer programming, he hacks into the city’s data systems, changing schools’ grades on the annual progress reports and generally wreaking havoc. His actions lead other teachers to join forces with the mayor and schools chancellor, who bear a striking resemblance to Michael R. Bloomberg and Dennis M. Walcott.)
Mr. Lu said that he and the other developers who worked on the game are not taking sides in the fight over how schools should be improved, but they did find inspiration in the details of those battles.
The New York City game features scenes in the Tweed Courthouse, school hallways and the city’s infamous rubber rooms, where teachers charged with incompetence or misconduct used to wait for their cases to be heard.
Though the Philadelphia game costs $1.99, Mr. Lu is testing the New York City market and now offering the game for free.
Anna M. Phillips is a member of the SchoolBook staff. Follow her on Twitter @annamphillips.