Craig Duplessie, whom I met during a recent trip to New Brunswick, just sent me an article about a collaboration between Bitcasters, Telefilm Canada and Canada’s National History Society to present Canadian History in a more engaging way — through a video game. They are utilizing the Civilization III engine to wrap the context around and will invite gamer/learners to play history.
Cocreator Thomas Axworthy bluntly addressed the issue, saying that “Canadian history is sometimes portrayed as dull as dishwater, and there’s a perception that history is only interesting if there are a lot of battles.” In an attempt to remedy this problem, Axworthy and his team used the Civ III engine to create a platform for gamers to reenact the formulation of Canada. However, the gamer isn’t locked down into proceeding on exactly the same course as Canada; instead, decisions will potentially alter the course of history and lead to hypothetical “alternate universe” versions of Canada.
This is one of the aspects of these types of video games that intrigues me as a former history teacher. It would be interesting to facilitate a class where students are coming in, not necessarily more factually knowledgeable, but having experienced some of the types of decissions that lead to past and current societal and cultural conditions. I could see a different kind of conversation happening when students are asked, “How would you have responded to this…?”
What do you think?