Few things beat the interactivity of a game for immersing students in a situation. And they are increasingly being designed by subject area specialists. Whether you’re teaching math or ancient Mayan civilization, Class Tech Tips says of a game from a former archeologist and educator:
MayaNumbers teaches students the history behind the number system used by this ancient civilization and they can practice their skills converting numbers.
The most incredible place for free, play-in-your-browser, history-based video games is the Internet Archive. Here, you can find the legendary “Oregon Trail” game (both original and deluxe versions), “Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego,” and “Centurion – Defender of Rome” — all the games you may have played yourself as a kid! (Be aware that there are also adult-themed games in this archive, so use with care.) These games are also a terrific opportunity to introduce critical thinking about the games, asking questions about elements such as the assumptions in the narrative storylines.
The United Nations has a number of online video games dealing with contemporary issues such as the plight of refugees, disaster preparation and response, and the education of girls. There’s a game in the works about the West Bank (more information on that here). And there’s already a game about the impasse in Ukraine. Writing in Popular Science, Kelsey D. Atherton calls “Battle For Donetsk” “a straightforward medium with a blunt message.”
Looking for more ideas on how to use video games? One idea would be to have your kids create their own in class, from script to programming. If you’re in the area, the Games for Change festival in New York April 21-25 is worth a visit too. Antero Garcia is “enthused by how Games For Change is intentionally a festival. Games, creativity, ingenuity are aspects to celebrate.”