Math teacher by day, gamer by night

By Victor Yoon

“Looks like I won’t be able to pick up ‘Gears of War 3’,” math teacher Kevin Weis said as he stopped writing equations and Greek symbols on the whiteboard to glance at his watch for a second.

“What’s that? I don’t even know what ‘Gears of War 1’ is,” one of the students working on homework asked.

Weis explained that Gears of War 3 is a recently released video game that a few of his former students had convinced him to buy and play with them.

Weis has always been a gamer, he said.

“I’ve been playing since I was very young,” Weis said. “I got the Atari 2600 when I was 5 years old, and I’ve been playing video games ever since,” he added before listing off quite a number of video game consoles that he has owned since then.

Being a gamer connects Weis with a certain group of students, he said.

He said that video games are something that he can talk about with his students after class or during Math Club.

Although he talks about video games with his students, Weis does not play with them often.

“I rarely play games with current students because first of all, I don’t play online a lot, and also because I think it takes some of the fun out of playing games for them and me when the student has to censor himself or change the way he or she acts while playing to keep a proper relationship,” Weis said.

While it’s a rarity for Weis to play with current students, it does happen. Last year, Weis played all of Portal 2 in one night with Riley Pietsch ’11.

“The way Riley plays games is that he likes to break the game and find ways to beat levels that maybe weren’t intended. I usually play by the rules, but seeing him work his way through some of the levels that we couldn’t have beaten otherwise was really cool,” Weis said.

Weis also said that video games and teaching don’t really cross for him.

“‘Portal 2’, the best game I’ve played in the past couple years, probably comes the closest [to really using math],” Weis said, “It’s a game all about spatial reasoning with an amazing story that’s all told through a first person shooter. It’s brilliant.”

Aside from using an example of delivery quests from role-playing games to explain the importance of money when he taught economics a few years ago, he hasn’t used video games much in his teaching.

“I actually don’t think that it’s that uncommon for teachers to play video games,” Weis said. “I read somewhere that the average age of video game players is around 30 years-old now, so I wouldn’t be surprised if a couple of the teachers at this school play video games.”