Name That Union



by Charlotte Slater

Charlotte's hero is Dr. Seuss; her guide, the I Ching; and her role models, Calvin and Hobbes. Originally from Louisiana, she loves Cajun food, her cat, her dog (shown here), and a good laugh -

not necessarily in that order.

Instructional Objective Given the names of 25 union crew members and 4 unions, the learner will be able to categorize each crew member's name according to his or her union affiliation(s).


Learners The learners are adults, varying in age from 20 and up, who are part of a movie production crew.


Context of Use This card game is based on a fictional scenario; the intention is that the user would adapt the design to his/her particular situation and task.

Fictional Scenario The learners are employed by a movie production crew numbering 25 union members who belong to 4 different unions. These unions are the Screen Actors Guild (SAG), the Directors' Guild (DGA), the Writers' Guild (WGA) and the International Association of Theatrical and Stage Employees (IATSE). Several crew members belong to more than one of the listed unions.

As part of their job, the learners need to know, with some degree of automaticity, which employees belong to which unions. Not knowing this information can cost time and money, as well as lead to unnecessary conflicts with union members and their representatives. Although the learners have this information on printed lists, they often need to access it more quickly via memory. The learners can already match crew members' names with their faces.

The nature of the production process is such that these learners frequently experience long lulls in activity, which they find boring. Recreational card games are frequently used to pass the time during these lulls.


Rationale The learners need to practice connecting names with appropriate unions. The task is a relatively dull one and the learners lack the necessary motivation to simply study lists of information. A card game is appropriate for lower level skills such as this one; it also motivates the learners by making an otherwise onerous task more "fun." Card games are easily transportable and thus are appropriate for these learners, who frequently move from one production location to another.

The learners are always looking for ways to fill long periods of "down time"; having played card games for recreational purposes on location, they are likely to embrace the format as a learning tool.

Rules Two to six people may play at a time.

Before Play Divide the union member deck into two identical halves; for example, if there are five John Smiths in one half, there should be five in the other. Shuffle one of these halves and place it face down in the center of the players. This is now the "stock" pile. Sort the other half by union member name so that there are separate piles for each name. Place these separate piles representing each union member face up next to the dealer. These are known in the rules as the "dealer's piles." Place the deck representing the unions face up near the dealer. No shuffling of this deck is necessary.

Each player must create a separate challenge sheet for every other player in the game. The player writes his or her name on each sheet as challenger, along with the name of the person being challenged.

Place a list of union members and their respective unions within easy reach, to be used as the answer key at the end of the game. Multiple copies (one per player) facilitate scoring.

How to Play

1. Using the deck of union cards, the dealer gives each player four cards: a SAG card, an DGA card, an IATSE card, and a DGA card.

2. Each player lays his four union cards face up in a horizontal row in front of him/her so that other players can see them. Union member cards will be placed in vertical rows beneath each union card in solitaire fashion.

3. Going in a clockwise direction from the dealer, the first player chooses a card from the stock pile of union members and places it face up under its proper union category. If player 1 thinks the union member belongs only to one category, his/her turn ends here. If player 1 thinks the union member s/he has drawn belongs to more than one union, s/he can ask the dealer for as many additional duplicate cards as necessary from the dealer's piles. In other words, if player 1 draws John Smith, she can place him under SAG and then ask for additional John Smith cards to place under WGA and DGA, if she believes Smith belongs to all three unions. The dealer gives the requested extra cards to the player, who places them under the appropriate unions. Only cards identical to the one drawn from the stock pile on on any particular turn can be requested. In the example just mentioned, player 1 can only request additional John Smiths, no Mary Jones.

4. All players scrutinize the move of the first player and mark any potential challenges on their challenge sheets. (See "How to Challenge" below for more details.) No player can change a placement once his/her turn is over. When the number of players prohibits players from easily seeing each play, players should say aloud what placements they have made before the next player takes a turn.

5. Each player, in turn, chooses a card from the stock pile, places it in its appropriate category, and requests additional cards if desired. After each play, all other players scrutinize the move and mark challenges on challenge sheets. Play does not stop as this process occurs.

Placement Rules 6. The following rules govern card placement:

* Players cannot place the same union member under the same union more than once. For example, John Smith cannot be placed twice under SAG, though he may be placed once each under SAG, DGA, WGA, and IATSE.

* If a player draws a union member card that s/he has already placed, the player can use that card to correct one previous omission, but the player cannot request additional dealer cards.

* If a player draws a union member s/he has already placed and does not need to correct an omission, the player must put the card on the bottom of the stock pile and draw again. S/he continues to do this until s/he draws a card that can be placed.

* Players who draw a card and do not want to attempt to place it can pass once per game only. In this case, the player returns the card to the bottom of the stock pile and the next player takes a turn.

7. Players can stop playing when they believe they have placed all union members under their respective unions. After stopping, players keep their cards in place, but cannot change them anymore. Players who have stopped must continue to monitor other players and record challenges. The rest of the players continue, each stopping as s/he finishes. (Of course, if the game is being played during a set time limit, play stops when time is called.)

8. When all but one player has withdrawn from the game, the dealer announces that play has stopped. Players have 30 seconds to finalize their challenges. After time has been called, each player gives his or her challenge sheets to the players being challenged. (See "How to Challenge" below.)

9. Players then score their own hands, making sure to add and subtract points based on challenges (see "How to Score" below.) The player with the highest final score wins.

How to Challenge Players can challenge other players on the basis of two types of errors: placing union members where they don't belong and not placing them where they do belong. To be judged correct, a challenge must correctly state whether a player incorrectly added a particular name to a category or omitted one. Every time a player believes another player has made a mistake, s/he records it on a challenge sheet.

For example, player 1 records on player 2's sheet that player 2 forgot to place John Smith under SAG as well as under the DGA. Player 1 records on player 3's sheet that John Smith was incorrectly placed under IATSE.

These sheets are exchanged at the end of the game (see 8 and 9 above).

Scoring To begin scoring, each player tallies his or her answers against the answer key. For every correct placement, s/he receives one point.

For every incorrect placement, s/he loses one point. After calculating his/her preliminary score, the player examines any challenge sheets s/he has received and marks the correct and incorrect challenges. (If none have been received, the player's score remains as is.) A player (who has already lost one point for an incorrect item) now loses one more point if an incorrect item is correctly challenged by another player.

A player cannot lose more than two points total per item (one for being wrong and one more if someone else correctly challenges him or her on the item). Even if several players correctly challenge the same item, the player only loses two points total. For example, if player 1 incorrectly places John Smith under IATSE and players 2 and 3 correctly challenge player 1 on this point, player 1 loses only two points on the item: one point for being wrong according to the answer key, and one more on the challenge. After adding all challenge point losses, each player subtracts the total from his or her preliminary score.

When all players have checked their challenges, the challenge sheets are handed back to the challengers. The challengers then dock themselves two points for every incorrect challenge. This total is subtracted from their previous total to create the final score. The player with the most points wins.


Card Design There are 2 basic types of cards: union member cards and union organization cards (shown below). The union member cards require names only since players already know which names are associated with which faces. Abbreviated versions of important information are included in the top corners of the cards so that players can place cards on top of each other to save space and still be able to know what the cards say. Identical abbreviations are included in the bottom corners of the cards for symmetry. The cards are the size of regular playing cards.

Deck Design This game requires two different decks of cards. The first deck contains union cards and the second, crew member cards. The union card deck consists of 24 cards: 4 different cards representing the four unions, multiplied by 6 so that six people can play at a time. There are 86 crew member cards: 8 representing the four crew members who belong to all four unions, 28 representing the 7 crew members who belong to two unions, 30 representing the 5 crew members who belong to 3 unions, and 10 representing the ten crew members who belong to only one union. The game also requires challenge and score sheets which the players can create themselves and an answer key listing crew members names and their appropriate unions.


Design Process First I began by developing a completely different game, which awakened me to the reality of just how many permutations, ramifications, obfuscations, etc., lie in wait for the novice card game designer. Sometime during that process, I began work on this game.

Many ideas were eliminated. Here are a few:

* Allowing players to challenge others while the game is going on. This was eliminated for several reasons, mainly because consulting a "cheat sheet" frequently during the game would disrupt the flow and "sensitize" players to the answers to more items than merely the one being challenged.

* Allowing a player to take his or her turn by either drawing a card from the "stock" pile or by asking the dealer for a union member card identical to the one played by the previous player. The latter could only occur if player 2 thought player 1 had missed a category; for example, had placed John Smith under SAG but failed to place him under the DGA. This idea was discarded because player 2 can simply record this as a later challenge rather than dilute the challenge process during the game by alerting other players to what player 2 assumes is a mistake by player 1.

* Allowing players who draw cards they cannot use (because they've already been used) to fold if this occurs a specified number of times in a row. Originally a player could draw a card twice per turn, but then had to pass if both cards drawn were unusable. After a certain number of passes, the player would allowed to fold. This was discarded in favor of letting the player continue to draw cards until a usable one was obtained. I did this in hopes of preventing the player from getting frustrated and quitting; it also appears to make the game more playable with only two people. I did not think this would present problems since winning depends on accumulating points, not finishing first.

The reasoning behind a few design decisions is as follows:

* Placing all the cards face up and asking players to record challenges as the game progresses motivates them to pay attention to and critically evaluate everyone's choices as well as their own.

* Attaching points to challenges helps insure that learners will in fact pay attention; attaching penalties to incorrect challenges inhibits challenge for its own sake or in order to harass another player. Also, players who finish first are motivated to continue to watch and participate in the game by continuing to record their challenges, which could turn into extra points.

* The fact that players can "copy" others' because cards are face up allows players to learn from each other to some extent. The more "cooperative" types might want to take advantage of this feature. A player who doesn't like being copied may find it strategically helpful to plant a card in a wrong category and then, after being copied, record it as a challenge.

* Allowing players to draw from the second deck (the "dealer's piles") as many cards as they think necessary to fill all the appropriate categories helps to balance random chance with learner control. Chance may bring a particular card to a player, but the player can then capitalize on chance by asking for and placing more of the same.