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Games Used To Teach History 42

Posted by Zonk
from the going'-back-in-time dept.
Next Generation is reporting on the use of games in educational situations. From the article: "Age of Empires III deals with the conquest and colonization of the Americas; fertile ground for imaginative students. Taking on the role of a European power - desperate to grab land and resources - helps students understand the motivation and planning behind invasion. It also paves the way for learning about its consequences. That, at least, is the theory."
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Games Used To Teach History

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  • Interesting (Score:5, Insightful)

    by radicalskeptic (644346) <tritone@gmaiCURIEl.com minus physicist> on Wednesday October 19, 2005 @02:53PM (#13829792)
    What a novel idea. Now if you'll excuse me I'm going to go play me some Oregon Trail.
    • the first Civilisation?

      There was a LOT of information in there when you discovered some new tech.
      • Civ is great for learning some history...

        But it's much to complicated for most students. I believe the main cause for this is just how realistic it is. Age of Empires is just a straight forward conquering game. Don't have to worry about revolts and corruption, just build units to counteract your enemy.

        Sure, Civ is fairly easy once you learn how to play it, but AoE has a much gentler learning curve, so it wouldn't take as long to learn it.
        • Well, if you really want to teach the subject, why not play the game that specifically had it as subject matter? Colonization was a solid title, but again very challenging. The game really was good at making you see it from a colonist's perspective - you use the natives help until you can't anymore (they help train your colonists in useful skills), then you wipe them out and steal their land because they're in the way.
  • Just about everything I know about Chinese history I know from playing Romance of the Three Kingdoms and Dynasty Warriors.

    Rob
    • Re:Koei games (Score:2, Informative)

      by Niahak (581661)
      Koei's games got me interested not only in the Three Kingdoms period, but also in other similar conflicts in China & Japan, leading to a general interest in Chinese & Japanese history.
      I heard that their next plan for a Dynasty Warriors-ish game is one set in the Hundred Years' War - it'll be interesting to see if they can pull it off.

      There are a lot of stages in history that can be made into the background of a great story, and I have a feeling that Koei's going to find even more. They did some
    • Ditto (until I took a class on China, of course). But it's not just history that can be learned. I knew my way around Battery park in NYC from playing Deus Ex: Conspiracy. Funny thing was, I didn't connect the two, and I found myself instinctively knowing where to turn to find the exits and the river. Video games are just as capable of teaching geography or pretty much anything else as they are capable of teaching history.

      It's a bit unfortunate that "video games can be a force for good!" is a refrain among

    • Yes, just about everything I know about the historic Terran-Zerg-Protoss conflict on Aiur comes from playing Starcraft. And that time the soviets tried to seize america using mind control? It's all portrayed accurately in Red Alert 2. Thank goodness for historical gaming.
  • Not the best (Score:3, Informative)

    by Joe the Lesser (533425) on Wednesday October 19, 2005 @02:56PM (#13829822) Homepage Journal
    If you want serious history games, check out Paradox [paradoxplaza.com].
  • aking on the role of a European power - desperate to grab land and resources - helps students understand the motivation and planning behind invasion. It also paves the way for learning about its consequences. That, at least, is the theory."

    Just make sure that introvert with a genius IQ doesn't figure out how to end with more favorable consequences. They usually stay bitter about getting picked on for the rest of their lives...

    • I don't know about staying bitter, but yeah, I can just see even a moderately intelligent kid gaming the game, and using some loophole to achieve an utterly non-historical result.

      E.g., I've seen a pretty surrealistic AAR (After-Action Report) on Paradox's boards about playing Japan in Victoria and ending up a liberal democracy long before the Meiji Restoration. The tactic used things that just wouldn't have worked in Japan's feudal society:

      - e.g., taxing the land-owners 100% to impoverish and thus elliminat
  • Civ (Score:2, Informative)

    by AsiNisiMasa (910721)
    As for the "understanding motivations" issue, I can definately bite. When I first started playing Civ II I would never want to try for a military victory. Then I got older and better at it (Civ III by then) and started to understand the reasons why one would do such a thing. Specifically, if you get tanks before anyone else, game over for them. When you have military superiority, you go for it. It's enlightening when you first find yourself being militaristically greedy.

    As for history, I thought Civ II was
    • I learned nearly all my history from playing Civ II. The information regarding the units and sciences and advancements really helped me discover new things. This is a good idea, because it will also show that even fun games can be educational too.
    • by snuf23 (182335)
      That's how I always played Civ. Expand rapidly, rush up the tech tree, slaughter everyone near you (I think the Knight unit was a real help initially), develop tanks as early as possible, kill everyone else. Game over around 1400ad. Oh yeah and fundamentalism was the greatest for having a massive army and keeping the civilians at home happy. Stop complaining and go to church! No wonder they took it out of Civ 3.
      The one time I won by reaching Alpha Centauri with the space ship was out of pure curiousity. I h
      • Oh, yeah, Colonization ruled. I used to play that all the time in middle school. Remember the Fountain of Youth? If you found that, you suddenly got an onrush of qualified immigrants to help your colony along. And instead of a tech tree, you had Founding Fathers that brought with them specific bonuses for the colony (if memory serves). Highly underrated, IMHO.
  • Having played AoEIII (which has horrible fonts that I can't read on my HDTV at all--Thanks Microsoft!), I would have to deem Colonization a far better teaching aid for this time period / sequence of events... and you can crank the video settings and still get perfect framerates ;)

    Just my 0.02CAD
    • What the fuck do you expect playing on a television? HD or not....
      • What the fuck do you expect playing on a television?

        Namco's Katamari Damacy and We <3 Katamari for PS2 seem to have decent fonts, even when used with a standard definition TV. Why can't Microsoft's games be as reliable across different kinds of displays?

      • Gee, I play World of Warcraft on it, and I seem to be able to read its fonts just fine. In fact, I play many games on it, and they seem to be playable also. I played games at 1024x768 for years and was able to read the fonts, so why not 1280x720?

        Don't speak on that which you do not understand.
  • by jayhawk88 (160512) <jayhawk88@gmail.com> on Wednesday October 19, 2005 @03:27PM (#13830116)
    The reality, of course, is that students learn how to fend of an archer rush, but not much else.
  • Like that the Egyptians loved to rush their enemies with a bunch of Sirian Werebulls, backed up by a few Biomechanoids.
  • by lupinstel (792700) on Wednesday October 19, 2005 @03:40PM (#13830224)
    Playing the Forgotten Hope mod for Battlefield 1942 got me interested in WW2. This is how I learned how the allies totally pwned the n00b germans despite their brillant defenses and 1337 hax0ring at both Omaha and Gold beach. The allies best tactic?... bunny hopping.
    • Bwwaaaahahah! You had me going to the end, then I lost it. Well played!

      Anywho, for my contribution, try playing shogun or medieval total war. Both games require you to carefully balance your nation while attempting to grow where influences such as religion and economic choices make each invasion a difficult decision... not a simple, invade-kill-invade-kill (try it in MTW and you'll find every place you invaided rebels unless you take care in what you do).
  • Using these games for teaching is very difficult, simply because they're sometimes os convincing. The same problem with movies...
    Take "Gladiator", where the Archers light their Arrows on a fire trench in the ground. There is absolutely no evidence this is historically correct (and the makers were aware of that, check the commentary)
    Or, for a game, take "Age of Empires", which features moving catapults (even having a damage area). Simply put, these didn't exist! I have an interview with Bruce Shelley where
  • I've found 'Knights of Honor' to be extremely interesting from a historical point of view. Supposedly, if you start out in the early period as one of the territories that lies in modern day England, you can actually form Britain by conquering the entire island.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Well considering that history is very violent and that there is a lot adult content within it can we still give these games to children with the new violent video game laws? I mean we don't want to teach children to resort to violence like was done many times in history.
    • No kidding. I'm a member of PETA and Oregon trial is nothing more than an animal murder simulator. It's only redeeming value is that the animal murderers are likely to see much of their family die off as kharmatic punishment.

      (tongue placed firmly in cheek)
  • by GMFTatsujin (239569) on Wednesday October 19, 2005 @05:42PM (#13831144) Homepage
    All I ever needed to know about North American colonial history, I learned from Day of the Tenticle.

    Which, come to think of it, explains a few things.
  • This is what I learned from Civilization:

    On Febuary 13, 1639 Montezuma sent a fleet of trimemes, ironclads, and troopships to the African continent. When the fleet reached the western Saharan coast, a motley group of 8 divisions of muskateers, 4 calvary divisons, 4 cannon batteries, a contigent of knights, and three battle hardened phalanxes of spearmen were unloaded. This was the Aztec First Expeditionary Force. The 1EF began razing trade routes and farmland as they fanned out across the desert. The c

  • some of the games which i liked is spicetrade www.spicetrade.org as well as http://us.games2.yimg.com/download.games.yahoo.com /games/buzz/content/p/7/102757/food_force_installe r.exe [yimg.com] which is a game where it's UN+food packets thing is happening. Don't remember the web url for the description & all but still a nice game. Spicetrade is better. I hope we see more of the earlier free as in beer as well as in souce games.
  • I must admit some skepticism with the idea of learning from videogames. While it is true that some people will read the flavor text (the historically accurate part) other people will only learn that a trebuchet is something like a catapult that must be unpacked, the Japanese start the game with the ability to build the phalanx because they have a bronze working tech, and that you can make it all the way to Oregon just by buying lots and lots of bullets and shooting a lot of buffalo every day. Seriously, mos
  • how about MOHHA or CALL OR DUTY even Battle field 1942(funny in nintendo there was a game with the same title) yeah some of these games are educational but also I encourage some of the gamers who play history oriented games to actually read about that way you'll know some facts about it and not be believing everything that's in the games.

    but i know some of you are being though at achool or remember the school history classes

  • ...and Monkey Island give good insight in to caribbean history... but seriously, if it gets people interested in the topic at hand, go for it.
  • Remember those? I had the time, world [flashback-aw.net] and USA versions back in the C64 days, and it did taught me a lot about those subjects... i could even pinpoint capitals in a US map, which back then was quite more than i could do with a map of my own country. Same for world capitals, and trivia facts mentioned in the game.

    More info on the series on Wikipedia [wikipedia.org]. The bit of trivia about CS showing up in an Animaniacs episode is true; i did saw that and got a good laugh out of it...
  • In games they dont get too specific with the information because its not like everyone who plays the game will understand everything. If the game interested you then you should go and do some more extensive research. And to think that we wouldve learned that history is repeating itself...
  • comprehension (Score:2, Interesting)

    by clragon (923326)
    i think it's all a matter of comprehension. like that story about Sun Tzu when he visited his 80 year-old master, the mast showed Sun Tzu his mouth, which had no teeth left, but had a working tongue. Sun Tzu understood and left, while his students were wondering what the lesson was about. some people can learn from video games, doesn't matter if it's history or co-operation skills. but some people just play the game and does not relate it to real life.

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