Thursday, April 16, 2015

"Crisis of Nations"!: Historical Gaming

       The country Malme donated money to Nerton, but Nerton spent the money inappropriately. Nerton, and as a result, Malme, suffered from an economic crisis. How were we to solve the crisis? Four different nations, including Nerton and Malme, pooled together to resolve the economic firestorm through a combination of diplomatic, economic, and various other means. With very little time, it was up to all of us to put the issue to rest as quickly as possible. The collaborative effort among nations was an exercise in crisis management.

                Sure, the crisis was not a real one, but it was certainly based in reality. It involved decision-making among various diplomatic players within the pressures of limited time. Sounds pretty familiar, doesn’t it? In some ways, one could argue that it’s reminiscent of the Eurozone crisis, or any other past economic crises. This particular game, “Crisis of Nations,” invites players to engage in the heavy decision-making of foreign policy. Produced by a website known as “iCivics,” it displays several games that engage players in scenarios of crisis management, voting, international policy, and lawmaking, just to name a few.       

                Historical gaming is a trend that has seeped into the digital world in the last several years. It seems to me, and we discussed some of this in last week’s class, that many of these games are steeped in choice. Take the example of “Crisis of Nations.” I chose to play as a single player, and three other remote players play simultaneously. These players and I represented four different nations with various capabilities, resources, strengths, and manpower. As quickly as possible, I had to send in various resources before the time on the clock ran out. The choices in resources that we made, and how quickly we chose those resources, affected the outcome of the hypothetical scenario.

                While there wasn’t a grand variety of interaction with the game and only so few buttons you could click on, “Crisis of Nations” encouraged decision-making, time skills, and character role-playing. It further facilitated interaction when the player is introduced to the terminology of the types of resources required to manage a nation. Though the interaction was limited, this is a great start in building and teaching perspective. History games such as this one need to have a great level of interaction. Doing so has the potential to teach perspective and decision-making as a window to developing those skills when “doing” history. Whether it’s studying real-life actors in historical events or placing yourself as a historical character in a game, it’s a skill in embodying multiple viewpoints as a means to understanding someone else's present and your past.

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