Predicting the NFL Draft – A FFToday affinity Space Update

*To learn more about participation in a interest based community, also known as an affinity space, for my Games and Learning masters class, I have joined the a fantasy football discussion community and am blogging about the experience.


My affinity space at FFToday is holding a contest for members to choose the first ten draft picks in the upcoming NFL draft being held on April 27th. I have decided as part of my continuing participation in the affinity space I will enter this contest.

One of my goals, as a fantasy football player, in joining the FFToday affinity space was to develop my skills as an evaluator of the rookies entering the NFL though the draft. In my younger and less responsible days I would regularly watch NFL on Sundays and college football on Saturdays, filling my weekends with the sport. By regularly watching the college level of football I had first hand  knowledge of the players that would be newest members of the NFL. Eventually I realized that weekends were for more than watching football, and paired my viewing down to just those games on Sunday. This has left me without my first hand impressions of college players, however, and for fantasy purposes I have been forced to rely on the sports media for evaluations of the potential rookies. By joining the FFToday community I have layered my access to rookie player research to include the evaluations made by FFToday community members, some with first hand  familiarity to these players.

These rookie evaluations have helped me think about rookies to target in my fantasy draft but when predicting the first ten draft picks this is not the whole picture. In fantasy football an athlete’s talent is only half the equation in the decision making process. Just as important is the player’s team and his position on that team’s depth chart. Because the team and his depth chart position lets the fantasy football manager have a better understanding of the player’s opportunity to be successful, a player can have all the talent in the world but if the supporting players on his team don’t produce then the player will suffer, also if a player is young and is sitting on the bench behind an established veteran, the rookie’s playing time will be limited and that will negatively affect his production.  The upcoming draft will shed a lot of light on the the situations these rookies will be thrown into for training camp.

The skill needed for FFtoday’s draft contest is matching the talent of top prospects with the needs of the teams that are picking in positions 1-10. I started my planning for my entry by looking at the recaps of the 2016 seasons for the teams with a top ten pick. Knowing how a team’s season played out gives insight into areas of need that a team will likely try to address in the draft, with the bigger the need the earlier in the draft it will probably be addressed. I decided to lean on the recaps from ProFootballFocus, because I trust their analytical approach to evaluating teams and players. The teams with top ten picks are:

  1. Cleveland Browns
  2. San Francisco 49ers
  3. Chicago Bears
  4. Jacksonville Jaguars
  5. Tennessee Titans
  6. New York Jets
  7. LA Chargers
  8. Carolina Panthers
  9. Cincinnati Bengals
  10. Buffalo Bills

With knowledge of the draft order, team situations and what I learned from the collected wisdom of the FFToday affinity space I selected my entry for the first ten NFL draft pick for the contest.  My choices were as follows:

  1. Myles Garrett (DE – Texas A&M)
  2. Solomon Thomas (DL – Stanford)
  3. Cam Robinson (OT – Alabama)
  4. Marshon Lattimore (CB – Ohio State)
  5. Jamal Adams (S – LSU)
  6. Malik Hooker (S – Ohio State)
  7. Mike Williams (WR – Clemson)
  8. Leonard Fournette (RB – LSU)
  9. Reuben Foster (ILB – Alabama)
  10. O.J. Howard (TE – Alabama)

Now that I have entered my picks I just need to to wait for April 27th, to see if my rookie research and my analysis of team needs have paid off.

Predicting the NFL Draft – A FFToday affinity Space Update

Reflection Games and Learning – Cycle 5

*Reflection is an important element of learning. It is a chance to look back at activities and thinking and fit them in with a big picture of what is being learned. For my learning and games class I will be reflecting on my learning every few weeks in a series of blog posts. For these reflections I have a bank of questions to guide my thinking.

How did your participation in course activities this month contribute to your understanding of games (generally) and the relationship between games and learning?

I had a very interesting series of interactions on my affinity space over the last few weeks. I have join a fantasy football affinity space for two reasons. First fantasy football is a game that I enjoy and I felt that join this space was a way to learn more in the offseason and make me a better player. I am also very interested in applying fantasy football as a math learning activity with my students. I have posted to the affinity space what my project idea was and asked for suggestions from the community. This string of interactions have taught me two important lessons. First, the affinity space has been a wealth of knowledge and ideas about how to implement my plan, because the members have passion for the game they want to contribute their expertise and, for the most part, see a project like this succeed. I also have found that there are going to be dissenters, some constructive some not. If students are going to be in affinity spaces they will need to know how to take constructive criticism and more importantly knowing how to protect themselves from the trolls. For the students I work with, this means seeking out spaces that are monitored to protect children.  There is a Children’s reddit with moderators and vetting of contributors, and could be a start for building an affinity space that I would feel comfortable sending my students to. I did, with a quick inspection, find some features that worried me, however. Users had to check a box to search only within the children’s area, which is a red flag because I would want to users to have to opt-in to the adult areas not opt-out. Also, the amount of content seemed limited, meaning that affinity spaces would need to be created and developed before being useful, but it could be a start.

What preconceptions about games, play, and learning have you changed because of your course activities so far?

The biggest switch in my thinking over the semester have been that games are not the tools for learning but they are the catalyst for learning opportunities. Games give students the opportunity to problem solve with a set of constraints (game mechanics, in-game laws of physics), playing games and reflecting on strategy give students the opportunity to practice identifying what the obstacles and constraints are then finding solutions to those obstacles (finding answer in tutorials, trial and error, coplaying). Students who are engaged in games are also encouraged by their engagement to engage in interpersonal communication around the game. With excitement to engage in the communication a facilitator can scaffold that communication to be productive and prosocial. Finally reflecting on game play as a whole can be compared with physical world situations and students can identify connections between the game and the physical world and opportunities to transfer learning from one to the other.

How have you relied upon networks – with peers, via social media – to advance your learning in our course?

I feel I have developed a useful and efficient system to formulate and share my thoughts and musings with Hypothes_is annotations. I first attack readings (both required and chosen) by reading and using Hypothes_is to take initial notes in my own private working annotation group. This lets me organize my own ideas and read thought the article without being distracted by the ideas of others. Then I take my working annotations and transfer them over to the ILT5320 group. If no one has made an annotation in that section I can start the conversation. If others have shared their thoughts then I have already formulated my ideas around that concept and I can use those ideas in a reply to my peer.

Ask yourself a question about games, play, and learning – and provide a meaningful answer.

Looking to the future of my fantasy football math activities I have been thinking about what game mechanics I need to develop to structure my fantasy football math league?  The first step in playing fantasy football is determining the important statistics from the physical world football game that will be used in the fantasy game. These physical world statistics are multiplied by a value and converted into game points, so next a point value needs to be determined for each statistic. The most basic fantasy football games look at two statistics for scoring points, yards gained on the field and points scored (in the form of touchdowns, extra points, field goals, etc.). To keep the initial game accessible to all players these are the statistics I will use as well, these simple statistics will keep the game accessible to both novices and veterans of fantasy football. By focusing on basic statistics novices will not be overwhelmed by excessive statistics to keep track of or make predictions about. To keep game veterans, who could find this scoring system to basic, challenged aspects fantasy football games that have been traditionally automated will be done manually, this includes the of collecting of raw statistics and turning that data into game point thought mathematical calculations. These new challenge will keep a basic game engaging, even for the fantasy veterans. I also want to develop an evolving conversion rate between the raw statistics and game points so that each week different calculations and operations will be needed to turn raw calculations into game points. These evolving conversions will keep the scoring process engaging through increasing difficulty and support a wide range of mathematical practice. 

What are your ongoing curiosities about games and learning, and how might you pursue these interests?

I critiqued an article, recently, about an independent game producer who designed a game to send a political statement. It has sparked a curiosity in my to look deeper into ways to be politically active and playful at the same time. In this playful or creative vain I have been following a Twitter user, Limerickingthat creates limericks to accompany current news stories, they are funny and creative but share meaningful news, with a progressive spin, about what is happening in the world, most often focusing on politics and political decisions.


These examples of creative and playful ways to engage in social activism hit me at a sweet spot of learning more about games/learning and engaging in the current social and political climate of the physical world. I have recently been introduced a tool, Bots for a Better World, that will take text messages I send to a bot that turns them into faxes to be sent to my representatives in congress. This tool is an engaging way to increase my access to those that represent me, that lets me use what I am comfortable with, texting rather than faxing, and the quirky interactions with the bot make the experience playful. I am going to continue my playful exploration of this bot with the hope of expanding the experience into a play blog entry.  

Reflection Games and Learning – Cycle 5

Games4Ed twitter chat reflection from 3/30/17

*I will participating in and writing reflections about Twitter chats with the games4ed hashtag this semester. Here is one of those reflections.


Late week I participated in my first ever Twitter chat. In these chats participants use a common hashtag to share thoughts, feelings, and experiences about prompts shared by the chat moderator. In the chat I participated we used #games4ed and has a theme of gamify your classroom, moderated by Melissa Pilakowski (@mpilakow) and hosted by  Dr. Matt Farber (@MatthewFarber)

games4ed advertisment pic.PNG

I enjoyed the format of the twitter chat. The host shared questions one at a time and participants replied back. Initially the answers to questions came very fast and it was overwhelming to process all the information and ideas that was shared. By the time I had composed my answers and responded to some of the other participants, the next question what up and that is also when the side conversations started up. I would respond to something interesting  another participant shared or someone would comment on my ideas and we would lunch on a tangent. Needless to say I was quickly out of step with the main body of the Twitter chat. Playing catch up I stopped focusing on the questions themselves and looked to the responses and my ongoing side conversations to stay engaged but not feel overwhelmed.

The first question from the chat caught me off balance, it asked:

games4ed pic 2.PNG

I had not thought of games as being ways to “leave” the classroom my focus had been on engagement and how games could be used to increase motivation. But I did remember one game that I play in class that does transport students to a different vertula place and gets their bodies moving.  

games4ed pic 3

In the end I found that the side conversation that were sparked by this Twitter chat had the most profound impact on me. Through my discussions of GoNoodle I was able to connect with GoNoodle and have been receiving update about new games and activities on their platform. I also started chatting with a kindred educator spirit who is developing a fantasy football math curriculum for the fall. I think this was a very successful chat and I look forward to participating in another, this time with knowledge of the ways for to participate that best fit my learning style.

Games4Ed twitter chat reflection from 3/30/17

A Street Fight Against Intolerance – An Article Critique

*In my pursuit of further education I am enrolled in a course on games and learning. Part of the expectations for this course is to take ownership of my learning and explore the connections between games and learning for myself, this blog post is a continuation of the documentation of my learning.


I have been been trying to find balance in my roles as a teacher and a learner during my self exploration of Games and Learning. My teacher side wants to identify best practices that I can use with my students. I feel that I have let this piece of my identity drive most of my exploration of games and learning texts and because through this exploration I have found some interesting insights to guide my teaching practice going forward.  As a learner I want to take a step away from my teaching practice and look at how games are being played in areas outside of elementary education. This week I was committed to take off the teacher hat and let the another aspect of my life guide me when finding a game article to critique.

One aspect of my life that has recently become a larger factor is political activism. American values, as I see them, are under attack in an effort to shift away from acceptance or empathy in society. More than ever before I find myself sharing my views and trying to raise awareness in both physical and digital spaces. This week I decided to look at both my activism and games, inspired in part from a tweet from my professor sharing games to play at political rallies and marches.

I found a Huffington Post article, by author James Michael Nichols, showcasing a new video game released, by an independent developer Aquma. This game blew my mind. Released as a response to the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) and International Organization for the Family’s (IOF) “Free Speech” Bus. In a nutshell the “Free Speech” Bus uses the sides of a bus to share messages of binary gender assignments at birth. The new game, Intolerance Fighter II Tour Bus, gives the player a chance to respond to the intolerance of this moving billboard by simulating the destruction of this object hate – it lets you beat the snot out of the intolerance mobile, Street Fighter style!


Intolerance fighter is a remix of the car crunching mini game from Street Fighter II with the “Free Speech” Bus replacing the original car. I loved the car crunching mini game because it gave players an opportunity to practice button combinations to create specialized attacks that could be used against game opponents. The remix gives users the chance to vent frustrations about intolerance in a simulated environment, without the repercussions of physical property damage.

The bus in the physical world takes the constitutionally protected freedom of speech to attack the realities of Americans that don’t fit into the concepts of binary gender assignment, held by ignorant or intolerant groups like NOM or IOF. Giving those people the chance to vent frustrations in a simulation is awesome. The digital destruction of the bus protects users from legal repercussions and gives the opportunity to focus on the intolerance being spread by the bus and not shifting focus on the damage done by vandalism.  

The question could be asked if this type of video game activism vandalism will lead to increased vandalism in the physical world. Now it is true that the “Free Speech” Bus had been met with protests and vandalism in its stops across the country. The New York Times recently ran a piece that pointed out that violent media, like video games, are one factor in many that lead to physical world violence, but not the major factor. The Huffington Post article gives the game creator a platform to remind readers that this game, like other games and novels, is a work of fiction and that the violence prorated is merely a metaphor for releasing the anger that stems from intolerance towards specific cultures, communities and humans in general.

A Street Fight Against Intolerance – An Article Critique

Pew Pew Pew Research Center Study – A Scholarly Critique

*In my pursuit of further education I am enrolled in a course on games and learning. Part of the expectations for this course is to take ownership of my learning and explore the connections between games and learning for myself, this blog post is a continuation of the documentation of my learning.


This week I found a large study from the Pew Research Center called Teens, Technology and Friendships: Video games, social media and mobile phones play an integral role in how teens meet and interact with friends. I was interested in this study because it provides an interesting statistical snapshot of how teens are using digital communication to make and maintain friendships. The digital communication was facilitated through text messaging, social media, and multiplayer online games.  I feel that the presence of more friendships that exist through digital means could provide some interesting opportunities to apply theories about in-room communication and learning that were proposed in Stevens, Satwicz, and McCarthy’s article In-Game, In-Room, In-World: Reconnecting Video Game Play to the Rest of Kids’ Lives.

The statistics shared in the Pew article were surprising to me. I felt that teens were going to be active using digital communication but I assumed that it would be to stay in touch with the people they had met in the physical world. Similar to how I use my digital communication. I did not expect for teens to be making and developing friendships completely in the digital world. I learned that, 57% of the teens from the study had made at least one friend online and of the friends that had been made digitally, one in five pairs eventually meet in person. Video games played over the internet hold an important place in the communication between teen friends in digital spaces, with 46% of teens playing online games with friends at least once a week, with 67% of male teens playing online games at least once a week.

The communication between teen friends online could benefit them in ways that Stevens, Satwicz, and McCarthy showed in-room communication helped young people learn when playing games together. Digital communication through online games enables players support one another in learning and mastering a in-game skills by enabling users to be mentors for new players, be a just-in-time expert recourse, or problem solve cooperatively through coordinated talk.

Knowing that a large number of teens are already using online games as ways to make and maintain friendships I would be interested in taking a theme camp experience and building up its online presence, as a way to get kids socially involved outside of the physical camp. I am particularly thinking of the Young American’s Bank program Young Ameritowne, which gives elementary students the chance to participate in a simulated economy. Participants apply for jobs, trade labor for paychecks, set-up/manage bank accounts, and get to be consumers.

I think that bringing some of their offerings into the digital world, Young American’s Bank, could make a bigger impact on participants than they currently do. Digital jobs could mirror computer skills needed for each of the professions offered in the simulated economy and give the children a more rounded idea of what is required for each job before applying and interviewing. Online communication should be encouraged for participants to discuss experiences and problem solving strategies. Finally participants could open their Ameritowne bank accounts online, and benefit form an online banking simulation. 

Pew Pew Pew Research Center Study – A Scholarly Critique

The Family the Feuds Together . . . Play Journal Entry

*This is a continuation of a series of blog posts for my Games and Learning course. In this journaling exercise I am going to play social games and analyze the game mechanics, design, and play experience, to identify how the game can be applied to learning in formal or informal setting

This weekend I was at a small gathering of friends, when we decided we needed a shake up our entertainment and used an appleTV device to cast a mobile app game to the television. We often gather on Friday nights and have identified a collection of mobile apps for classic game shows, such as Wheel of Fortune or The Price is Right. We cooperatively play, with the whole group calling out answers and playing as one team. This week we channeled our inner Richard Dawson to play the crowd favorite Family Feud.


This is a newer version of Family Feud then we are use to playing so there was a lot for this group to master in the game. One of the new features is a tournament mode. In this mode eight players are trying to find answers to the same question. In Family Feud 100 people are surveyed and their answers are hidden on the game-board. The players try to guess all the responses and are awarded points based off of how popular the answer was. In the tournament the two players with the lowest score after each round do not move on to the next round.  So the first round has eight players, the next has six, then four, and for the final round only two players are left. This is a departure from the classic game play where only two players compete at a time, over four rounds.

family feud game play bar.jpg

The knockout nature of the tournament forced us to adjust our game play. In the past our goal was to guess all the answer on the game-board, with the less popular responses seen as unique and therefore the most prized responses to guess. In the knockout games earning the large point responses first, the popular choices, was key because we discovered that ties went to the team who scored fastest.  This made the group slow answers down and focus on what the popular answers could be not just quickly calling out answers and reaching for the obscure responses.

family feud game playTo play in the knockout tournaments players have to collect coins that can be slowly earned in the standard mode or can be obtained quickly in though in-app purchases. There is also a large reward for winning a tournament and second place prize that is enough to pay for another entry to the tournament. In the previous version of this game coins could be collected by watching advertisements. This is a feature we used a lot, it would have been nice if it had been included in the new version. Companies may have not seen that as effective advertising but could have tried trading in-game currency for responses to marketing surveys, there by collecting valuable information and users the opportunity to collect more coins.  

family feud championI believe that the knockout tournament featured was included in this new version of Family Feud because players of the old version were “gaming the system”, defined by Deterding as a situation when players “find a way to exploit any rule loophole” (2014, p.310). We knew how to game the old version’s advertising model to get more in-game currency and how to guess low probability answers early when there is more leeway in time and chances then give high probability answer when the round is almost over.  Removing the payments for watching advertisements and including a time dependent knockout tournament effectively stopped our what we thought were sneaky game play strategies, forcing us to discover new ways to game the Family Feud app.

The Family the Feuds Together . . . Play Journal Entry

Why do haters gotta hate? – Membership in an Fantasy Football Affinity Space

*To learn more about participation in a interest based community, also known as a6171514511.pngn affinity space, for my Games and Learning masters class, I have joined the FFToday discussion community and am blogging about the experience.  

On of my goals for joining the FFToday affinity space was to play around with the idea for using fantasy football as a learning activity in my small group math interventions. I don’t know where this ideas is going to go and I am changing jobs next year, so I am not certain I will even have an opportunity to employ it, but I have been thinking about fantasy football in math for a while. I might as well dive right into the affinity space and start seeing what the members thought. I started a discussion thread called: Fantasy Football used for teaching math in school. I made the assumption that the members of a fantasy football affinity space would see this a great idea and share testimonials about how they use math in game/in world, or about how motivating the game has been to look and and analyze data to be more successful. My opening post was an attempt to elicit those stories.


I also wondered if there was an inherent problem with fantasy football in a math class.  I have seen, in the readings from and interactions with classmates in my Games and Learning class, that gamification is not always the answer to motivating students. Would competition and point totals make the game an electronic whip? Would students to feel forced to “play” and see their scores as negative commentary for their performance? So I decided to request reasons not to use fantasy football from the community. I thought that reasons not to play would be thoughtful and come from a place of understanding – because these are not only players of fantasy football but such die hard fanatics they are interacting in an affinity space in the off-season. What I did not expect was what I got, a troll.

It didn’t happen right away, at first weepaws was just a poster that seem concerned about fantasy football being gambling but his post quickly became an attack on “lazy” teachers.

weepaws post 1

I was not in a mental place to handle this internet attack on either my profession or myself. I have been feeling constant pressure political related interactions on social media that have ranged from discussions to arguments to attacks. I know that I am not alone in this feeling but there was no way I was going to handle the situation with weepaws well, this was a fantasy football discussion forum that people go to for fun, that I had joined for a class. I envisioned myself striking back at weepaws and letting the poster know what is lazy teaching really is – probably starting a feud with a long time community member, or blowing a gasket and then have to walk away from this affinity space. So I did the only thing that I could think of to that did not end in banishment from the group; I ignored him. I responded to most of the other posts, I got some great feedback, and I thanked other members who stuck up of me in shooting down weepaws repeated claims of gambling or lazy teaching. But I did not interact with weepaws.

I was ready to use this blog post as a way to go after weepaws, to vent, because I was furious. Then he made a post that struck a cord.

weepaws post 2

I had asked for opinions on both sides of the fantasy in math controversy. Weapaws shared his opinions and I needed to address this, I gave a lengthy response, but the gist was that I wanted positive testimonials to share to support the project, to think about negative responses to decide if I was going to do develop the fantasy football project at all, and that repeated attacks of lazy teachers was not convincing me of that it was bad idea. I concluded that the attacks gave me more motivation me to show my students I care about their engagement, so they don’t hate teachers when they grow up. I thought that conclusion would push weepaws over the edge and that my math discussion thread would devolve into attacks and insults. And again I assumed wrong.

weepaws post 3
I think I learned that viewing weepaws as a troll stopped me from validating the poster’s opinion. Posters in a affinity space are looking for validation. I am not going to see eye to eye with weepaws, but we have shared a civil exchange. I am interested to see if and how weepaws continues to post on the thread.





Why do haters gotta hate? – Membership in an Fantasy Football Affinity Space