Office World

Office World

Daniel Brown, 2013

Section 1: Introduction

The prospective clients are on their way and you haven’t even started preparing your presentation yet. The accounts team is asking for all the paper receipts from last week’s business trip which you just remembered are in the pockets of the pants you dropped off at the cleaners yesterday. Your boss wants your opinion of his new tie while an angry customer is waiting for you on hold as you notice the water cooler jug is empty again. Does your class have what it takes to survive in Office World?

1.1 Executive Summary

Office World contextualizes your business English classes. It is a framework that situates your classroom activities into a grander narrative that simulates a real business environment. By putting your classes in context, you can give meaning to your language tasks so that students don’t need to search for their own motivation.

Running the Office World framework in class is fun and simple, but may be unlike anything you may have tried before. In  Office World, your students are employees of a fictional company. Together they will be working to complete jobs, while at the same time competing for seniority. During class you won’t just be facilitating language production, but also enforcing a game mechanic that directs the underlying storyline each team of students creates. The mechanic gives structure to and propels their completion of jobs. For students, the rules of the mechanic will emerge naturally through play. For the teacher, though, understanding how to work the mechanic will mean reading through this whole document.

1.2 Target Demographics

Office World is ideal for young professionals studying business English. Only a basic level of English is presumed, so this framework can be run alongside coursebooks such as the elementary levels of Market Leader or In Company. It can be applied to students of any proficiency level because you, the teacher, will be designing jobs that fit into their lessons.

A nice class size for Office World is 12 students. This framework works best when students are in teams of 4, but teams of 3 to 5 are also possible. The largest class size I would recommend to be facilitated by a single teacher is 16 students.

1.3 Supplies & Setup

You will need to print out a character sheet for each student along with handouts for the jobs you assign them on a particular day. I recommend presenting the jobs on screen first, so it’s good to have a computer with a projector, though not entirely necessary. If your class is large enough for 3 or more teams, then I  recommend having one smartphone per team, so students can record and submit their role-plays at their own pace. You’ll also need about 10 dice, with it being better if they are of various colors or styles. You can raid these from old board games or order a lifetime supply from Amazon.

Preparing for class each day can take as little as 15  minutes. Preparing usually just means thinking up real problems for the students to solve and putting them into a job template.

Section 2: Employees

2.1 Employee Resumes

Every student takes on the role of an office employee. Their employee is represented on a sheet of paper that resembles a resume. The front of the resume has spaces for students to  customize their character, while on the back there is a rules summary. Here’s a picture of the front and back of the character sheet:

Office World Character Resume Front

Character Sheet Front

Office World Character Resume Back

Character Sheet Back

Each part of the resume serves a purpose when students are completing jobs, but they don’t need to be explained to the students right away. For the first class, just have the students come up with a name and some background info in the form of bullet points. Let them role-play introductions and reward them with one xp. The next class you can introduce mottos and pet peeves, and continue with basic role-plays without actually introducing the game mechanic yet. Leave the spaces for assets, traits, unresolved problems, and contacts untouched. Those spaces will be filled in as students start working on jobs.

Throughout these instructions I will use some pre-generated characters as a reference to help explain how things work. The four characters I will use are Todd, Lynette, Stan, and Rebecca. Their character resumes are as follows:









 2.2 Identification

At the top of each character’s resume is a place for their name. Each student will come up with a unique name for their character which could be their own English name or an imaginary name. Some students may just want to be themselves, which is fine, too.

2.3 A Winning Motto

The motto is a short phrase that a character adheres to. Let’s say our team with the aforementioned characters is on a job to visit a local mom & pop store to convince them to move out of their place so that your company can set up business there. Stan is going to be the team  leader and he has the motto live for today. During the course of the role-play, Stan drops that line in as he urges the current owners to retire and enjoy their lives. If all goes well, the students’ arguments are convincing and the mom & pop place moves out.

Some more example mottos could be, “Early bird gets the worm”, “You only live once”, or “A penny saved is a penny earned”. When a motto is invoked in a role-play, it gives a +1 bonus towards completing a job. An employee’s motto can only be used once per week. Students shouldn’t become too attached to their mottos, however, since they will have to change them if they use them but still fail a job.

2.4 Raising the Stakes with Pet Peeves

Each employee will have something that really annoys them. Rebecca’s pet peeve is noisy eaters. If her current job is to give a brief product description, but one member of the audience is noisily snacking away, this will make the job particularly more difficult for her.

A pet peeve not only adds +1 drama to a job but also raises the stakes so that a team will get 50% more xp upon successful completion or 1 extra penalty upon failure. A student has the option of changing their pet peeve after successfully completing a job against it. A character can only use a pet peeve once per week.

2.5 Summarizing with Bullet Points

The bullet points represent the main skills of a character. They are the main factors when it comes to completing jobs. The bullet points are divided into 3 categories: education, experience, and activities. This information doesn’t have to be based on reality, so a student might decide he graduated from Stanford with a bachelor’s degree in physics, has job experiences of serving at a restaurant and working as a zoo keeper, and is a black belt at jiu-jitsu.

As an example of using bullet points, let’s say Lynette is the team leader for a job to make a report on growth markets. She previously worked as a cashier where she small-talked with customers about their consumer habits. That experience has led her to believe there’s potential in selling expensive hand-made soaps. She includes this information in the team’s role-play and report.

Before doing actual jobs that involve using the game mechanic, make sure each character has 4 bullet points, with at least 1 in each category. These bullet points will have the number 2 written in on the box to the right, which represents their level of expertise at that particular topic. To the left of each bullet point are little boxes that get checked off after a job is completed with regard to whether the employee was successful, unsuccessful, or just helped.

2.6 Showing Off with Assets

Assets are the individual resources an employee can use to help complete a job. Characters will both gain and lose assets over time. Students are free to make up any asset they can justify obtaining, since when they fail jobs they will most likely lose them. Let’s say the team is on a job to attend a conference, but they are running behind. Todd conjures up a sports car to get there on time.

Some example assets could be a stapler, mother-in-law, private jet, or gym membership. Assets give a +1 bonus when they are invoked in a role-play. Each asset can only be used once per day. When students bring in amazing assets, make sure you grill them on how they got them when you are checking their jobs.

2.7 Tell Me About Yourself

Traits are adjectives or short phrases that describe a character. Each one can be used either positively or negatively, depending on the direction the students want to take when working on their job. If the the team is working on a job where they need to forecast market conditions for the next quarter, Stan may use his trait adaptable if, for example, the data they are working with changes during the role-play. Stan could also use his trait negatively in a future job where his being adaptable gets the team into trouble.

Some more example traits are things like tall, shortstrong, determined, or well-off.  Traits are only realized after a character has overcome three unresolved problems by testing each of their aptitudes. These can be used either for a +1 bonus if used as a strength, or +1 drama if used as a weaknesses. Each trait can only be used once per day.

2.8 Having Unresolved Problems

Characters often get burdened by unresolved problems when they fail a job. An unresolved problem will negatively affect how a character can carry out a job. An example of receiving an unresolved problem could be when the characters are on a job to research and write a report on the charismatic CEO of a competing company, however they fail and the condition enamored with competing CEO is applied to an employee. They will now have to address this in their future jobs until it is resolved.

Other unresolved problems can be things like a headachestress, or a bad relationship with their boss. Unresolved problems don’t have to be added cumulatively. Unresolved problems give a -1 penalty when resolving jobs, and an employee can only attempt to resolve one problem per day.

2.9 Measuring Your Aptitudes

Aptitudes represent the base abilities of the characters. The three aptitudes are physical, mental, and spiritual.  Aptitudes are used to attempt to resolve problems. They can also be used as a substitute for bullet points if an employee doesn’t have an adequate bullet point to complete a job.

An example of overcoming a problem using physical aptitude could be getting over stress by spending time at the boxing gym, while an example of using physical aptitude to complete a job could be lifting heavy boxes while moving offices. An example of getting over a problem like depressed using mental aptitude could be spending time doing crossword puzzles. Mental aptitude could be used to complete a job such as recognizing an accounting error. Spiritual aptitude can represent things like determination or emotion, or it can also have a supernatural component. An example of using spirit to overcome a cold could be just being tough and working through it. Mustering the courage to ask a supervisor for help could be an example of using spiritual aptitude to finish a job.

Aptitudes only give half the bonus (rounded up or down based on discretion) that a bullet point does when working on a job. An employee with a degree in Accounting will be more adept at figuring out financial problems than someone just relying on their mental aptitude.

2.10 It’s Not What You Know, It’s Who You Know

The students’ characters are going to be meeting a lot of extra characters as they do their jobs.  As they role-play in teams, one or more students will also have to take on the roles of these extras. One student per job can fill out a contact circle for this extra duty. When all the contact circles are filled, the student can call on a contact to get a second chance at a failed job. Sometimes students might actually want to fail a job on purpose, so they could also use a contact to get another chance to fail.

As an example, let’s say the team is on a job to lobby congress against passing a bill that will negatively affect their business. They do everything right, but still fail the job by a margin of 1. They decide they really want to succeed because one of them needs to fill out the check mark next to the bullet point used, so they call a senator they did volunteer work with a few jobs back and describe how he comes in to try and help out. They get one chance to change the outcome of the job.

2.11 Brownie Points

Student earn experience points (xp) each time they do a job. The xp any given job gives is equal to the number of dramatic situations that happened in the role-play. Students who unsuccessfully complete a job may be penalized by receiving less xp, however.

2.12 Getting a Raise

As students gain xp, they increase in seniority. The more seniority they have, the better they can complete jobs and cope with drama.  The amount of xp needed for each level of seniority and the rewards for each level are printed on the back of the character resume.

Section 3: Jobs

3.1 Getting to Work

The way we get students to work is through jobs. Jobs let us contextualize our language points and make language production fun. Jobs should be presented to the students by showing a slide containing a background image with one or more characters looking like they need help. I currently use Google Drive to make these slides. The slides set the scene for the lesson’s jobs. Each individual job will look something like the following:

Office World Sample Job - Jammed Printer

Sample Job

In addition to showing the jobs on the screen, I also print them out on slips of paper so students can refer to them as they’re working. Students can choose to do jobs in any order they want, so you can’t really leave the projector on a slide job once the students start working. Each job includes several parts which I will talk about in the following sections.

3.2 Job Title

The job title is a quick way to reference jobs and should be unique and short, possibly including language from the lesson in it. In Office World, you don’t necessarily have to jump from high-powered job to high-powered job, but rather intersperse mundane office tasks in with the important stuff.

3.3 Preparing for Drama

The drama level is the range of drama allowed in the role-play. Each dramatic event that occurs in the role-play increases the drama level. For example, if during the students’ job a package gets sent to the wrong address and then there’s a power outage, that would be 2 dramas. Likewise, if a phone call gets cut off, the office is out of envelopes, the air conditioner breaks, and then there’s a tornado warning, then that would be a total of 4 dramas.

Drama level is presented as a range because sometimes students will avoid all drama, and other times they will try to go overboard. This parameter gives them some guidance so their jobs are neither too easy or too difficult.

3.4 Hearing Out the Problem

Most jobs should have a clearly defined problem that needs to be solved. We can engage the students by having this problem come from an NPC whom they will have to interact with during their role-play. This listening text is the catalyst for each job. You can either record it and play it in class, or just read it out to the students right then and there.

When thinking of things to put here, make sure there is a clear request for the students to do something. If the text here is vague, or if it’s not obviously a request, the students may have difficulty finding a direction to take in their role-play. This section is also a prime place to include the lesson’s language focus.

3.5 Defining the Mission

The mission statement summarizes what the NPC asked for in the listening text. This is a brief description of what the students must accomplish in the fiction of the role-play. Of course, the students don’t necessarily have to do what’s stated in the mission to be successful. They can be creative and come up with alternate missions, and if they are successful they will still pass the job.

3.6 Recognizing the Task

The task explains the real-world requirements that the students must do to receive credit for the job. In addition to role-play, you may also want to have them include other tasks, like writing an email or giving a presentation. If they don’t accomplish the task, or it isn’t up to standards, then they can’t attempt to resolve the job in the fiction of the role-play

3.7 Getting the Words Right

After the task section is the language focus section. This reminds the students of the day’s lesson and gives some examples of how they could utilize language from it while doing their job. Obviously, you’re going to want to design jobs that entice them to use what’s been taught in class. However, students may become too wrapped up in completing their jobs that they don’t think about the lesson’s language, and instead rely on a mix of recycled and emergent language. When that happens, you don’t necessarily have to stop them and get them to do it over. There will time during the job resolution stage for you to elicit the desired language.

3.8 Receiving Recognition

The usual reward for successfully completing a job is xp equal to the amount of drama the students created in their role-play. You can also include other rewards, such as random assets. I keep a ‘supply closet’ with pictures of random things my students have drawn like staplers, coffee mugs, or hamsters, and occasionally give those out as rewards. Just remember that the more rewards you give out one time, the more students will expect the next.

Section 4: Job Resolution

4.1  Who’s the Boss?

Once students have received a job, it’s time for them to start planning out how to complete it. For each job, one student should take on the role of the team leader. That doesn’t mean an actual promotion in the fiction of the game, that just means they’re taking charge of this particular task.

The team leader has a special role in the job resolution mechanics because his bullet point will come into play predominately, as well as any traits, motto, or unresolved problems he may have. The team leader should also take on the role of a director in terms of the role-play. If there are conflicting ideas in a team as to how a job should be solved, the team leader should have final say. The team leader is a rotating role, so everyone should have a chance to get their say in.

4.2 Doing the Job

In addition to the role-play, a teacher may assign other business English related tasks, such as composing an email or putting together a presentation.  Before moving on to the next step of resolving the job outcome, it’s important that the students have produced a quality task. If their work isn’t up to standards, then it’s at this point that you should have them re-do the task.

4.3 A Tale of Drama and Danger

The role-plays students produce should have some sort of drama or danger in them to keep them interesting. These don’t have to be serious things, they can just be little things. Some examples your students might include could be a lost business card, a client that can’t accept a certain credit card, a dead phone battery, or a cultural miscommunication.

Students are going to add up how many elements of drama or danger occurred, and we will use that number later when seeing if their job was successful or not. We’ll refer to that number as the drama level.

4.4 The Right Skills for the Job

In order to counter all the drama they create while doing their jobs, the students’ characters will use the resources available to them as written on their character sheets. As they invoke the various things on their character sheets, they will be earning dice. The way they can earn dice is as follows: add a number of dice equal to the skill  level of the team leader’s bullet point used, plus one die if the team leader can apply his or her motto to the situation, plus one die if the team leader has an appropriate trait, plus one die if they can use an asset, and plus one die each for up to two other students’ characters helping by using their bullet points or aptitudes. They will also have to subtract a die if the team leader has an unresolved problem.

Before jumping straight into a role-play to do the job, students will need to spend some time brainstorming and coming up with strategies. I always give out a chart for students to fill in as they work on their jobs. The chart looks like this:

Drama Elements Action Plan
1st Drama: ____________ +1 Team Leader’s bp: _________ +__
2nd Drama: ____________ +1 Motto:  __________________   +1
3rd Drama: ____________ +1 Team Leader’s Trait: ________  +1
4th Drama: ____________ +1 Asset: ____________________ +1
5th Drama: ____________ +1 1st help: __________________ +1
Pet Peeve: ____________ +1 2nd help: _________________ +1
Problems: _________________ -1
Total Drama Level: ____ Total Dice: ____

Since each point of drama is worth 1 xp, the students will want to take on as much drama as possible. However, more drama means they are more likely to be unsuccessful, so they also want to earn as many dice as they can by doing actions. Trying to balance out the risk and rewards of completing jobs is one of the things that will keep students interested in their jobs.

Each trait and asset can only be used once per day, though that shouldn’t be much of an issue since the team leader role will rotate after each job. It’s also possible for the team leader or helper to substitute an aptitude for a bullet point if they can’t come up with a solution to a job by just using their bullet points. In that case, the team leader can only receive a number of dice equal to half the relevant aptitude, rounded up or down based on how well they justify it. Helpers still just receive one die.

The team leader is also capable of a special move called multitasking. If the team leader has filled in all the success/failure/help boxes next to at least two bullet points, they can use multiple bullet points in a job, receiving +1 die for each added bullet point. They will need to erase the check boxes of the used bullet points afterward.

4.5 Dice Play

Once we know how much drama was in the role-play and how many dice the students have earned, determining the job outcome is fairly straightforward. The team leader will roll their total number of dice, with any die coming up a 4,5, or 6 being considered a success. If the number of dice that are successful is greater than or equal to the drama level, then the job is completed successfully.

4.6 Celebrating Success

When the students are successful, they get the rewards laid out in the job description. That’s typically an amount of xp equal to the drama level they created, plus any other rewards you may have tacked on. If the team leader’s pet peeve was in play, they can get 50% bonus xp, rounded up or down based on how well they can justify it. Students also earn narrative truth, meaning that what they talked about in their role-play actually occurred in the fiction of their story. Let them embellish on their success a little before moving on to the next job.

4.7 Handling Failure

Not every job is going to end successfully. When students roll fewer successes than the drama level they set in their role-play, they will fail. Failure means that the teacher will take control of the fictional narrative and pass on punishments to the students’ characters and/or assets. When deciding on what consequences to give, determine their margin of failure by subtracting their successes from the drama level and refer to the following chart:

Margin of Failure Consequences
-1 Choose 1: Team leader gets a problem, a helper gets a problem, an asset is lost or broken.
-2 Choose 2: Team leader gets a problem, an asset is lost or broken, a helper gets a problem, half xp.
-3 and lower Choose 3: Team leader gets a problem, an asset is lost or broken, helpers get problems, team leader loses a trait, 1 xp.

Remember that if a pet peeve was in play, you will choose 1 additional penalty for them. Administer the consequences and then narrate the ending to their role-play in a way that fits in with the given job. It’s also alright to let the students sometimes describe how their job ends, if it’s appropriate.

4.8 Tidying Up

After each job, the students will need to update their character sheets with any new information. Problems, assets, and traits should be added, modified, or removed based on the job’s outcome. If the team leader used a bullet point, he can fill in a check mark next to the bullet point if he was successful or the x mark if the job was failed. If a helper used a bullet point, they can fill in a helping hand icon next to it, regardless of whether the job passed or failed. One student who took on the role of a non-player character (NPC) in the role-play can fill out a contact circle. If the team leader used his motto, but failed, then the motto must be erased and a new one created before that mechanic can be used again. The team leader has the option of making a new pet peeve if the pet peeve was in play and the job was a success. Lastly, make sure that the role of team leader is rotated for the next job.

Section 5: Problems

5.1 Problem Fixing

One of the most common results of a failed job is to receive an unresolved problem. The way to overcome this is for the student to describe how they resolve it either before or during one of their job role-plays. When describing it, they have to mention whether it is a problem affecting their mental, physical, or spiritual aptitude and consequently roll a number of dice equal to that aptitude’s level. They can also receive one bonus die from either an asset or a friend’s bullet point. They will resolve the problem if they can roll one successful die. A student can only attempt to resolve a problem once per day.

If you want to make the game more difficult, you can require a number of successes equal to the number of cumulative problems the student has. You can also subtract the cumulative number of problems from the dice total when completing jobs instead of just one, or give problems a severity level that indicates how many dice they subtract. By default, though, this game is set on easy.

5.2 Adding Traits

Once a student has checked the three boxes for each aptitude, they can add a trait. Have them describe how the trait manifests itself. After adding the trait, they can erase the aptitude check marks and start over.

 Section 6: Example of Play

In this section I will give an example of what Office World looks like in the classroom. This isn’t a record of an actual play session, but rather an ideal model I’m writing up based on the pre-generated characters and a random unit from a business English coursebook. The book I’m using is the intermediate level of Market Leader by Cotton, Falvey, and Kent. The reason is simply because you can download sample units from their website. We’ll be using unit 5 which is on marketing and can be downloaded here. The images of non-player characters were created by myself using RPG Maker.

6.1 Making Preparations

Unit 5 of the coursebook is called Advertising and starts with a quote by William Bernbach that reads, “Advertising isn’t a science. It’s persuasion, and persuasion is an art.” This is a great theme to get things rolling in Office World because acts of persuasion are bound to lead to all sorts of drama.

Before going into class, you’ll need to prepare a scenario your students will be in and the jobs you want them to complete. In this case I will drop a picture of the interior of a coffee shop along with some named NPCs into a Google Presentations file. You can make a more elaborate setting if you want, but all you basically need is a background image and NPCs.

Once you have a setting, you’ll need to come up with some problems that the NPCs have that fit into the theme of the lesson. Come up with about 3 jobs so students have some choice and they can work on more than one if time permits. Taking our cues from the coursebook, one job can be from a worker who’s upset about a commercial being shown on TV and wants the characters to complain to the advertising company. Another job that could elicit the target language of viral campaigns is an NPC whose proud of his daughter and wants help making her a star. Lastly, a job could come in from their boss who wants them to quickly set up an outdoor advertising campaign for one of the company’s products. In this example we’ll just focus on that last one.

To turn our idea into a job, we just need to fill out the information presented in the section on jobs. So, we need to come up with the title, drama level, listening text, mission, task, language focus, and rewards. The only hard part is really the listening text. Make a template for your jobs and fill in the details. Here is what this job ends up looking like:

Outdoor Campaign

Now, finish making the other jobs. If you have more than 5 students in your class, then you’re students are going to be divided up into teams. In that case, make sure you print out the jobs so each team can have a copy of the job they’re working on, that way they can refer to that worksheet instead of the screen since different teams may be working on different jobs. I also include a drama/actions chart on the back of the job printout so that students can organize better how they will compete the task.

It may seem like a lot at first, but once you have some NPCs ready and a template for making the jobs, then coming up with jobs based on the lesson doesn’t really take that long.

6.2 Presenting the Situation

Once you’ve got the scenario and all the jobs ready, you’re all set to present them to the class. Office World fits into the task execution phase of your lesson. I will assume you’ve successfully presented the material on pages 44 & 45 of Market Leader, and are now ready to start getting your students into language production.

Before jumping into the new scenario, ask the students to recall what happened in their jobs in the previous class. There should be a sense of continuity in their story lines, even if students are grouped together in different teams than before. Make sure that students have updated their character sheets since their last job. If a student leveled-up in the last class, take note of their new abilities and have them explain a bit about them.

Once everyone is up-to-date, introduce the new scenario and go over the jobs one-by-one. Let each team decide which job they will work on first, then give them a handout of the job so they don’t have to refer to the screen. Make sure each team is only working on one job at a time.

6.3 Working on the Job

Once teams start working on jobs, your role becomes that of a facilitator. You will go around the classroom assisting and, once students have submitted their role-plays, resolving their jobs.

In this example, our team has chosen to do the job ‘The Outdoor Campaign’. The first thing they’re going to do is brainstorm ideas for how to complete the job. As they talk about it, Stan suggests they use his degree in Social Sciences, and that he takes on the role of team leader. Stan says he knows how to persuade all kinds of different people, so their job will include them operating an outdoor information booth where he can interact with people. Todd says he will help by utilizing his painting ability. He will make a nice looking backdrop for the booth.  Lynette will also pitch in with her degree in marketing, saying that she will help with dealing with potential costumers alongside Stan.

Next, Stan wants to see if he can use his motto, an asset, or a trait. His trait is adaptable, so he imagines that as they are doing their outdoor campaign, it starts to rain. Since he’s adaptable, though, he says he brought along rain gear as an asset.

Now the team wants to think about the drama they will face during the job. It’s already been determined that it will start raining. They decide another drama will be someone asking too many questions about the product they are advertising. Finally, Stan’s pet peeve is dirty fingernails, so it’s decided that the product they’re advertising is a smartphone, and that one of the customers who’s touching it has dirty fingernails.

As the team is talking about how they envision their job turning out, they are also taking notes in their job outline. Their job outline would end up looking like this:

Drama Elements Action Plan
1st Drama: ___rain______ +1 Team Leader’s bp: Soc Sci +2
2nd Drama: _difficult client_ +1 Motto:  __________________   +1
3rd Drama: ____________ +1 Team Leader’s Trait: adaptable  +1
4th Drama: ____________ +1 Asset: ___rain gear__________ +1
5th Drama: ____________ +1 1st help: __painting__ +1
Pet Peeve: dirty fingernails +1 2nd help: __marketing____ +1
Problems: _live-in mother-in-law_ -1
Total Drama Level: __3__ Total Dice: __5_

The team has earned a total of 5 dice and they will encounter 3 dramas during their job. They would have had 6 dice, but Stan has a problem with his mother-in-law, and he won’t be trying to fix it at this time. They decide to include his problem during the role-play by having his mother-in-law continually phone him to ask him to bring home groceries. The last thing to consider is that Rebecca doesn’t have a working role in this job, so she will be taking on the roles of NPCs that show up in the role-play.

Now that the team has planned out their job, they are ready to either perform it live or record it using a smartphone or any other audio recording device. Since Stan is the team leader on this job, he will be like a director. If you’re using a recording device, he will hold it up to the person who should talk next. An easy way to get the ball rolling on role-plays is to start by restating the listening text, so Stan holds the phone up to Rebecca, hits record. Armed with their outline and language from the book, a role-play similar to the following is produced:

Rebecca (boss): What are you guys doing? Drinking coffee? We need the outdoor campaign for our new product finished ASAP!
 Stan: Don’t worry, boss. We’re on it!
 Todd: What are we going to do?
 Stan: I have a plan. We’re going to set up an informative exhibit outside. We will place our tablet PCs out there so people can try them.
 Todd: That’s a great idea. I can help with setting it up. I’m quite an artist, and I have some ideas for eye-catching and original booth designs.
 Stan: Excellent. Yes, I think this is going to be a success. As you know I have a degree in Social Sciences. I know how to persuade people. We’re definitely going to sell a lot of tablet PCs.
Lynette: Don’t forget about me! I got my degree in Marketing. I will help persuade people, too.
 Stan: Ok, let’s get to work.
 (later as they are working at the booth)
Lynette: Oh, here comes somebody.
 Rebecca (customer): What’s this?
 Lynette: It’s our new Super Phone.
  Rebecca (customer): I think I saw that on TV.
 Lynette: Yes, we’ve been running a big TV campaign. We also have lots of Internet ads and subway posters.
 Rebecca (customer): Who was the celebrity endorser in those ads?
 Lynette: Well, there were a few. Which one are you talking about?
  Stan: I think she’s talking about D-Dragon from Big Generation.
 Rebecca (customer): Yeah, that’s him. I like the commercials the other phone company has. Can I try the phone?
 Lynette: Sure, go ahead.
  Todd: Hey, look at her dirty fingernails.
  Stan: Yes, I saw that.
  Todd: Oh, no. It’s starting to rain. Our leaflets and the posters I made are getting wet.
  Stan: It’s alright, I brought some rain gear.

The team stops the role-play here since it seems they’ve completed everything they’ve set out to do. They send the recorded role-play to their teacher via a smartphone. He’s helping out another team at the moment, but he comes over to them when he’s alerted that their job has been submitted.

6.4 Resolution

When the teacher comes over, he asks to see the job outline chart they filled out and they listen to the role-play again together. The teacher gives feedback on their language use and asks questions, in this case enquiring a little bit more about the rain gear and the Super Phone. Once the teacher is satisfied with their answers, he starts handing  over dice to the team leader according to their job chart. First, the teacher gives 2 white dice for Stan’s Social Sciences degree. He then confirms with Stan how his trait, adaptable, was used in the role-play, then hands him a die for it, but of a unique color. The teacher does the same for the asset. When the teacher gives the dice to Stan for the help he received from his team members, he makes sure each member is aware of their contribution and that each die is a a unique color. Since Stan still has an unresolved problem, one die is taken away. The students forgot to bring that aspect in to the role-play, so the teacher just asks them there and they explain how that problem hindered them. Lastly, the teacher reminds them they need 3 successes based on the amount of drama they faced.

Stan takes the 5 dice and rolls them. They show up as 1, 3, 3, 5, and 6. Only two of the dice were 4 or higher, so with only 2 successes the team hasn’t successfully completed the mission in the fiction of the story. Since they failed by 1, the teacher will refer to the margin of failure chart and choose one bad outcome for their characters. In this case, however, the team also used Stan’s pet peeve, which means they get an additional penalty.

To mete out the penalties, the teacher takes a quick look at the dice that failed. One of the failures was the die that represented the asset, so the teacher decides that the tarp they used to shelter their exhibit was old and had a hole in it that allowed water to leak onto some of their Super Phones. For the second penalty, the teacher notices that another failed die represents Todd’s painting ability. The teacher thinks for a moment how that can be turned into an unresolved problem that can also fit in with the day’s lesson, and subsequently decides that in Todd’s painting there is an image of alcohol consumption. That, in turn, offends a customer who is there with her young children. Upset, the customer hits him on the side of his head with her purse, causing Todd to have the problem of a constant ringing in his ears.

To finish up this job, the students will update their character sheets with any new information. They will each get 3 xp since they they had 3 dramas in their job. Stan failed with his Social Sciences degree, so he can fill in the X box next to that bullet point. He can also choose to add tattered rain gear in his assets,  or just leave that out. Todd helped with his painting skill, so he can fill in a help box next to that bullet point. Todd also has to write in his problem ringing in ear. Lynette had already filled in her help boxes next to her Marketing degree, so she doesn’t get to fill in anything more there. Lastly, Rebecca took on the roles of NPCs, so she can fill in a contact circle.

Once finished, the students move on to a new job since there is still enough time remaining in class. The events that happened in their first job can influence what happens in their next job, for example Todd may have problems because of the ringing in his ears. In that way, jobs are linked together to create a sort of episode each class. When there are only about 5 to 10 minutes left in class, the teacher calls for an end to working on jobs and all the teams review by sharing what happened to them.


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