Learning through Play: Uno!

Seven weeks

into my Games and Learning graduate course at CU Denver and I’m still surviving! If you are reading this and wondering, huh? Surviving? I recommend taking a few moments to read my first post in this series on why I hate games. To be fair, I am starting to understand the benefits of game play but, still not convinced they’re for everyone.


Just because I’m not a fan of games doesn’t mean I can get out of course assignments. After all, I did choose the course. 😜

So, while I’ve been busy reading and annotating, reflecting, writing, and engaging with my peers on social networks as well as my affinity space, Photoblog, I’m also playing games. Knowing my engagement with game play was critical for this cycle of coursework, I convinced my boyfriend last week to join the fun. We chose the card game, Uno because it’s the only game we have in the house and, to my surprise, he had never played!

For whatever reason, I had always enjoyed playing Uno as a kid and it’s probably why it’s the only game I own! If you’re new to Uno (or need a refresh), I recommend taking a quick look at the game rules here.

On this night of game play,

I remember feeling very playful and not too concerned with winning. It was fun to stay in and do something other than fall asleep on the couch to a movie. We stayed up until midnight, yes midnight 🤗, and could have kept going. It was very stimulating and a great way to spend some QT with my love. I think this is what Fizek (2014) referred to as being game literate. She defined fun, in reference to games as:

an enjoyable emotional reaction deriving from the capacity to engage in playful behavior, which emerges out of the interaction with the game.

So, even though I was having fun, the one lingering question I had (and always have) is why I lose. What do I miss? After all, I was the seasoned player…

Maybe “winning” doesn’t matter

so much as long as I’m having fun and able to recognize that? And, being mindful of my practice of fun and playfulness in my day-to-day ultimately impacts how I view and interact with the world around me.

My consistency with losing could also be because I’m more a big picture person and subconsciously dismiss strategic details. Uno has a lot of rules and although it’s heavily dictated by the luck of the draw, players need to discard the cards that anticipate the next players move. Those action cards can either be your best friend or your worst enemy.

Remember these:

In addition to the colorful nature of the game, I think the action cards are what makes Uno expressive and fun. They help mix up the game a bit. For instance, you could be on your last card (Uno!) and your opponent drops a hand full of these and the next thing you know you’re holding 15 cards! Of course the more players you have the more interesting things can get.

The game recommends no more than 10 players. I don’t think I’ve ever play Uno with a group of 10. Have you? What’s it like?


Fizek, S. 2014. Why fun matters: in search of emergent playful experiences. In: M. Fuchs, S. Fizek, P. Ruffino, and N. Schrape. Eds. Rethinking Gamification. Lüneburg: Meson Press. pp.273-287.










  3 Replies to “Learning through Play: Uno!”

  1. March 9, 2017 at 8:14 am

    Now that’s a blast from the past. Haven’t played UNO since sometime in the 80s. The cards look different now, but from your description, seems like it is still the same game. You ain’t kidding–the tables can turn quick. I agree with you that winning doesn’t matter, as long as you have fun. Amuse yourself first and foremost.

  2. March 9, 2017 at 2:16 pm

    You’re right, Brian. I’m always learning something about myself in Remi’s classes. I think maybe I’ve just been too serious over the last few years and suppressing a playful approach to life’s challenges. As the semester goes on I’m becoming more aware of this. Yoga has been helping with this too 🙃

  3. March 12, 2017 at 4:33 pm


    Thanks for sharing your game night experience, it seemed like you had a great time. I have not broken out Uno in a long time, we mostly play two player dominions in my house on game night. I remembered how fast placed and unpredictable Uno games turn out, now I have to see if I have a deck in the house.

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