Pet Projects: Polemos
Teaching Rhetoric in a Playful Way - Polemos
In cooperation with Karsten Stölzgen and with valuable input from Bernd Rex and Dr. Markus Herrmann I have developed the prototype of a trading card game, which uses Aristotelian concepts to engage players in a rhetorical fight. By competing in this game, players learn the functions of key concepts (argument schemes, fallacies, objections, ethos and pathos effects, and more) and their interaction in a discussion or a debate.

We have developed a prototype, written the rules and presented the game at an argumentation conference, where it met with great interest. So far Polemos  has not made it beyond this stage, but working on it, and trying to translate a large number of classical concepts into straightforward playing cards had already taught us a lot about rhetoric and made us ask complex questions that only show up once one tries to explain 'simple' ideas in a different language. This language of competitive games is a great tool for argumentative analysis and rhetorical training alike. Building a game, which is theoretically faithful and at the same time fun to play is an exciting challenge.

While I don't know where we are going with this concept (teaching rhetorical theory isn't precisely the largest market one could imagine for a game), I do not regret any of the many, many hours we have put into the project so far. Maybe we will find the opportunity to bring it beyond prototype, or maybe we will go the revers way and compose a textbook on rhetorical concepts with an attached card game. But some corners of academia in general and rhetoric in particular might not have to lead to a concrete product, but are worth exploring out of pure intellectual curiosity and l'art pour l'art. Just because we can.

Below are a couple of introductory materials about the game. They are incomplete and work in progress, and you are welcome to contact me if you have further questions about the project.


  • Draft of an article outlining the interplay of Polemos and rhetorical theory (German): download pdf
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