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CCNY Professor Conceives Social Deduction Games for Autistic Players

CCNY Professor and game developer Ethan Ham and two of his students play Avalon, a social deduction game.

Social deduction board games have been a big hit with young adults ever since the first game, "Mafia," was developed in 1986. Now City College of New York Electronic Design and Multimedia Associate Professor Ethan Ham has designed a workshop class to create games that teach social skills to players on the Autistic spectrum.

Professor Ham's concept has received a Research in the Classroom Idea Grant from the City University of New York. The workshop starts in spring 2015 and will be offered in the art department.  

"Social deduction games involve players being assigned secret roles," said Professor Ham. "Players try to deduce the identities of others and, or, hide their own. This requires strategic thought, team play, social skills, misdirection, bluffing, and role-play."

As such, social deduction games are particularly well-suited to enhancing the players' ability to analyze actions, facial expressions and intonation in order to interpret the motivations of others while at the same time communicating or concealing their own, he added.

A contemporary artist and game developer, Professor Ham developed an interest in social deduction games through his volunteer work at a youth center. There he noticed the enthusiasm high school students have for such games.

About The City College of New York
Since 1847, The City College of New York has provided low-cost, high-quality education for New Yorkers in a wide variety of disciplines. More than 16,000 students pursue undergraduate and graduate degrees in: the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences; the Bernard and Anne Spitzer School of Architecture; the School of Education; the Grove School of Engineering; the Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education, and the Colin Powell School for Civic and Global Leadership. U.S. News, Princeton Review and Forbes all rank City College among the best colleges and universities in the United States. 

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