Learning through Play: Sorry!

Last weekend,

I had an adventure with my inner child at Snow Mountain Ranch near Granby, Colorado. I can’t tell you how awesome it was to completely let go and play! We (my boyfriend his mom) went snow tubing, roller skating to amazing cheesy 90’s ballads, cross country skiing, played board games and attempted two puzzles. Whew! Activities!!

The weekend definitely brought me back to the days of after school programs and camp. Only this time, I was thinking a bit more cautiously about how all this play was affecting me.

It was an appropriate weekend for this being that I’m now two weeks into my Games and Learning graduate course at the CU Denver. So, in lieu of this cycles play journal activity, I’m going to share some thoughts on the board game, Sorry!.

Sorry! Puzzles were already taken!

Playing the game Sorry! also came at appropriate timing as I have a very distinct memories of playing that game as a child and hating it. I’ll get into that later…

Let’s review the game:

For most of you reading this, you’re probably familiar with the game but it’s been a long time since you played. Here’s a quick gist of the game, courtesy of Wikipedia,

“Sorry! is a board game that is based on the ancient cross and circle game Pachisi. Players try to travel around the board with their pieces faster than any other player. Sorry! is marketed for two to four players, ages six through adult. The game title comes from the many ways in which a player can negate the progress of another, while issuing an apologetic “Sorry!”

Want more? Here’s a nice PDF of the game rules. And, a video for all you visual learners out there.   (Sorry! the video is so large, I can’t seem to figure out how to change the size of video content in my WordPress theme):

Now that you’ve all had a nice walk down memory lane, let’s talk a little more about this game.

At first glance, the game doesn’t do much to encourage collaboration, foster creativity, or exercise problem solving skills– a few things we might expect from a game. The bulk of Sorry! seems like it’s based on luck. The next card drawn determines your next move. However, players do need some “gaming literacies” in order to understand the rules and how to navigate the board (Salen, 2008, p. 8).

I’d also argue that strategic decision making plays a part when choosing who to bump to get closer to home. Sorry!

Perhaps this was the reason for my sore losing back in the day… My surface level of understanding made me feel unlucky and unsure on how to cope.

Maybe, that’s part of the learning! A lot of life is based on the luck of the draw, right? As children, it’s hard to understand, reflect, and grow from losing experiences. But, without these experiences, how do we grow and become comfortable with the idea of failing and embracing risk?

Based on our course reading,

It is interesting to think about the game Sorry!, it’s history and origins, and how it contributes to learning beyond the “luck of they draw.” Salen (2008) suggests gaming requires a sense of playfulness along with an attitude aimed at risk taking, navigation, and rule / structural comprehension (p.9). While collaboration and creativity may not be obvious strengths of the game, players who engage in Sorry! definitely need a playful attitude. Also, quite possibly, Sorry! is subconsciously teaching players valuable life skills of risk taking.

Now that I’ve completely over-analyzed this game, I’m left wondering: what about this game has gained / maintained such popularity all over the world and, for so long?



Salen, Katie. “Toward an Ecology of Gaming.” The Ecology of Games: Connecting Youth, Games, and Learning. Edited by Katie Salen. The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Series on Digital Media and Learning. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2008. 1–20. doi: 10.1162/dmal.9780262693646.001





  2 Replies to “Learning through Play: Sorry!”

  1. February 3, 2017 at 5:49 pm

    I was looking for an older commercial, but this was the best I could do 🙂


  2. February 6, 2017 at 7:09 am

    Ha! Perfect addition, Brian!

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