INTERNET Deck



by Mark M. Neder

Mark likes working around the world, formally as an ESL teacher, in the future, who knows. At one time, Mark enjoyed skiing, scuba diving, and exploring strange lands. Now all he has time for is studying, working on projects, and sometimes playing golf.

Instructional Objective The learners will be able to identify legitimate INTERNET command sequences. The game will focus on basic VAX Notes, Telnet, and e-mail commands.


Learners/Context The players are students and faculty in a university setting. They should have prior knowledge of the INTERNET and the type of information it can provide for a researcher. They should be attending or have gone through an introductory course or workshop designed to teach them the basic commands for E-Mail, VAX Notes, and Telnet. This card game will work best as an optional exercise in conjunction with such a workshop.


Rationale One of the most prevalent problems encountered while using the INTERNET is to give the computer the correct commands in the correct order. Although there are many shells that will take some of this burden from the end user, there will be times when the user is unceremoniously dumped in the middle of an unfriendly computer environment. When this happens, an understanding of basic commands and procedures will be very helpful.

A card game is useful for practicing and learning the above types of commands for several reasons. First, the competitive nature of the game will add excitement and interest to an otherwise sterile topic. Second, the players will be able to practice using the commands without the frustration that learning them on the INTERNET could produce. Third, players will see alternative methods of giving commands through the other players' tricks. Finally, it will break up a long workshop that is mainly procedurally based.


Game Description There are two variations to the INTERNET Deck. The first is a competitive game played like Rummy with the following variations. Players receive one point for each card in any trick that they lay down. Players may pick up more than one card from the discard pile. Players can void tricks laid down by other players by placing a "Disconnect" card on the trick.

The second variation to INTERNET Deck is facilitative. It is meant for students who are not yet familiar with INTERNET commands. This variation is played like Rummy with the following variations. The dealer is always the instructor. All cards are shown face up. The instructor and other participants help the current player figure out if there is a legitimate sequence in his or her hand. Score is not kept. Only a few hands of this version should be played before switching to the competitive version of the game.


Rules The competitive version of the game is played in the following manner:

1. First, choose a dealer. The dealer shuffles the deck of cards, then deals seven cards to each player. The remaining cards are placed face down for drawing during play (the draw deck). One card is turned over to form the discard pile. The player to the right of the dealer starts the play and then the play continues to the right.

2. At the beginning of their turn, players must pick up either one card from the draw deck, or as many cards as they need from the discard pile. When a player picks up from the discard pile, he or she must take the complete series of cards from the lowest card he or she wants to the top card of the pile. For example, if the player wants the fifth card and the third card from the top of the discard pile, he or she must also take the fourth, second and top card.

3. After a player picks up cards from the discard or draw deck, he or she may lay down any valid series of commands that he or she may be holding (this is called tabling). Each different command series each has its own special font. The other players have until the next player picks up from either the discard pile or the draw deck to challenge the tabled cards. If the challenge proves that the sequence is not correct, the player must pick those cards up again. There is no penalty for challenging and being wrong. Each player must end their turn by either tabling all their cards or by discarding one card to the discard pile.

4. Any player may lay down a "disconnect" card on any other players tabled cards during his or her play. This will void that sequence for scoring purposes. If a player is holding a "disconnect" card when another player goes completely out, then that player must void the number of tabled sequences that equals the number of disconnect cards he or she is holding. There is no penalty for holding any other cards when the winner goes out.

5. The wild card may substitute for any other single card in the deck except the "disconnect" cards.

6. The first player who tables all his or her cards wins the round. This automatically adds 10 to his or her score. After someone wins the round, each player must count the number of cards that they were able to lay down prior to the winner going out. This number is added to their score. Any tricks that have a "disconnect" card on them do not count towards the player's score regardless of the number of cards in the trick.


Card Design


Optional Uses The facilitative version of the game is played in the following manner.

1. The instructor becomes the dealer. The dealer hands out seven cards to each of the participants. All cards are shown face up for everybody to see.

2. Rather than being competitive, this use of the cards is facilitative. The dealer and other participants work together to make as many legitimate sequences as possible. Because of this, no score is kept.

3. The discard pile and the draw deck operate as in the competitive version.

4. As in the competitive version, the "disconnect" cards must be played as soon as possible. This ensures that some semblance of reality remains even in the facilitative use of the cards.


Design Process At the beginning of the design process, I identified the audience and subject. Currently, the topic of INTERNET limits the audience to university students and faculty. This will change as the network expands to secondary schools and private interests. Because of the current limitation, I decided some sort of betting game would be best.

I tried to design a poker based game that uses the command sequences from INTERNET to make winning hands. This was very limiting educationally. The only hands that would be educationally useful would be straights. Full house, two, three and four of a kind would be winning hands, but they would not enforce and command sequences found in INTERNET.

I decided to switch to a rummy based game. This provided greater opportunities for forming the correct command sequences from the cards. I decided to increase the opportunity of obtaining the correct command sequences by allowing the players to pick up as many cards as they wish from the discard pile.

Anyone who has worked with the INTERNET knows that the process does not go smoothly all the time. Many times you cannot log- on to remote sites or your connection is broken for some reason. To simulate these types of events, I created the disconnect card. Usually when you are disconnected on the INTERNET, you lose time or a file. In the game when someone plays the disconnect card on your trick, you lose points.

I modeled the INTERNET cards from standard playing cards. There are suits, as shown by the card's font. All relevant information is shown along the upper left side of the card. The top half and bottom half of the card are mirrored so the orientation of the card does not matter.

To expand the number of possible cards, I used variations of locations and names used in the command sequences. There are many sites that a person use Telnet with, and there are a great number of people that a person can send e-mail to. There are several different operations that a person can do in the VAX notes. Even so, the deck would not contain the standard 52 cards.