History Games

Video games are a proven motivator in the social studies classroom. The purpose of this page is to discuss what games are effective and ineffective in the Social Studies classroom.

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Help! Need beta testers for game

Started by Ed Jones. Last reply by Ed Jones Apr 30, 2010. 2 Replies

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Comment by Russell Tillmann on April 13, 2010 at 9:08am
With coaching and my masters work, I haven't been on here in awhile so I apologize. Jean, I both agree and disagree with you on your comments regarding Peace Maker. Yes, winning the game does assume that a two-state solution is the best answer. It also does not give the history of the area leading up the conflict of the game. But, that is why I have a job. If ther game did everything, than what would be the point of having me in the classroom? Before playing the game I give my students a detailed historical background. While playing the game I re-describe what Fattah and other terms are, and at the end describe why some may think the two-state solution is the answer, and for others not the answer. Some students agree with this solution while others do not. Overall, I think the game is great because, if a skilled teacher is in the room, students have the ability to play with the game, and the teacher can interject and provide the scaffolding needed to learn and be successful. I feel it also shows the complexities leaders of both sides have to deal with. As a poly sci teacher, one of the things I try to teach my kids is the many difficult decisions leaders face, and try to get my kids to justify the decisions they make. Having the students play this game and explain why they made the decisions they did is a great way for them to learn about decision making, as well as get there hands "dirty" in the some of the current terms etc.. that surround the current conflcit in Israel. I hope you give the demo a try.

As far as Civ is concerned, I am a big fan. You may want to look at Kurt Squire's research he did on Civ. It's very good. The main problem I see with CIv (and most other games) is how to use it in a classroom. I've thought of using Civ at the end of the year for my world history kids. But, with the current curriculum/standards/cramming 1,000's of years of history into one academic year, setting aside a week or two and the end for this is difficult.

Also, you may want to check out the game "Making History". I toyed with using this in my US History class this year, but when I became confused and than bored with the gameplay, I knew my kids would as well.

Overall, games have a lot of promise--especially in History. Any idea how many of my low level learners will play call of duty into the wee hours of the morning and than go look stuff up about the Pacific Theatre online? Some of them know as much about this subject as me. Yet, as far as games that can be used in the classroom, there is quite a ways to go yet. Just like other tools, it's up to the trained teacher to transform them into something tangible and useful for kids.
Comment by Jean-Michel David on April 4, 2010 at 7:04am
The 'peacemakergame' seems to me to be rather inappropriate and rather politically biased, based on what I could gleen from the videos and the site's own description. Also, the complexities of the socio-political situation seem to be presented in a manner that is not reflective of the history of the region.

Perhaps the full version has more that meets the eye (I was hesitant to download the trial version). I wonder, for example, if the destruction of Judea by the Romans (and the renaming of the region to 'palestine') is even included therein?

Part of the problem, in any case, is that the 'game' assumes a particular political view not universally shared in the region, e.g. (taken from the site): 'winning state is the two state solution'. The actual consequences of this sensitive area seems to therefore take away, rather than help, understand the issues the various sides (not just 2) face.

I suppose I came here to see if others have found (history and other, for that matter, complex) games that are educationally more worthwhile than non-games (or it otherwise seems to me a waste of resources and time).

Of course, in very specific circumstances with students with particular needs, these 'games' may have a positive value... and hope to be able to be read of such over time. As general educational tools, however, they seem rather lacking.

(I presume it's pedagogically ok to be critically reflective here... I'm still rather new to this .ning)

I'm also intrigued and will also have a look at 'Civilizations' at some stage...
Comment by Sara Jette on March 22, 2010 at 12:58am

I know that we are looking for games in this group, but I thought the History Channel's online Citizenship Quiz might be something interesting to try as well. Perhaps it would be appropriate during a discussion of immigration.
Comment by Danielle N. Stead on September 9, 2009 at 10:33pm
Have you ever looked into "Civiliazations"? It's a great computer game where you can start from any time period (I prefer ancient) and work your way forward. There are several goals to aim for to win. Space Race, World Domination, etc. You can also pick your choice of tons of world leaders. (I'm a fan of Catherine the Great. Expansive, but Defensive as well. So lots of cities, and pretty good protection!) I played this for a week with one of the homeschool kids I taught and she learned so much. Now she hears the name of a past world leader and she can tell where they were from, and what they were famous for. Without having to open a history book.
Comment by Russell Tillmann on January 3, 2009 at 1:48pm
Hi all. I hope to use this network to discuss what success you have had in using video games in history classrooms. I recently used the game Peace Maker in my World History classroom. It was a great game and really helped the kids understand both sides (Israel and Palestine) of the issue. I recommend you go check out the demo

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