Practicum: Argument Wars and 1066

When I signed up for the video game practicum I did not have high expectations because I knew these games would not have the high caliber graphics and game play of an Assassin’s Creed. However, I was pleasantly surprised by how entertaining these games were and found myself playing them for far longer than I had anticipated.

The games I will cover are Argument Wars and 1066.  Argument Wars is a game hosted on iCivics.org and the premise is to argue your case in the context of a famous Supreme Court case.  1066 is a Channel4 production that I had a little trouble finding but ended up playing it on Kongregate.com; it has a single player and multiplayer mode, and you can choose to play the story mode or do a simple battle simulation.

Argument Wars

The start screen asks you to pick a case to argue.

The game has you choose and name your character, and it starts with an opening cinematic where each side presents their case; in this case Brown v. Board.

A lot of dialogue ensues, in which the judge asks a series of questions and the attorneys respond. Eventually you get to the main goal: making an argument. The first step is to choose how to argue the case based on what constitutional issue is at stake. For this case, it is the fourteenth amendment, that school segregation prevents equal treatment under the law.

You then draw a series of cards which you play in order to support your argument.

If you correctly support your argument, the judge passes ruling points to you.  The Judge has a certain number of points to distribute, and once they are fully distributed whichever side has the most points wins the case.

My favorite part of the game is when the judge asks you to elaborate on your evidence, and a logical premise constructor pops up:

At the bottom of the screen you create the premise by toggling through a sentence constructor. I don’t play a lot of games that ask you to create a logical premise, but I wish I did. This game is not only a great tool to get kids to learn about real history, but also to learn how logic works in arguing cases!

After you successfully argue your case, the game prompts you with the history of the actual case and presents a series of links to interested players who want to learn more.

All in all, a great tool for education.

1066

This game is about the battle of 1066, the Norman conquest of England. As I mentioned it has a single player and multiplayer mode. If you choose the single player mode you can choose to play the story mode or do a simple battle simulation.

I had a lot of difficulty watching the story mode because my computer couldn’t keep up.  I did get the idea though; it has a narrator talking over graphics and provides the story of the invasion of England by both Vikings and Normans. So because I was having difficulty, I will just cover the battle mode.

You can choose which of three battles you want, Fulford, Stamford or Hastings, and each has a different map with different barriers. You can also choose the size of the battle, and of course I chose the biggest battles each time.

Next you choose which side you want to fight with: Norman, English or Viking. The game gives you detailed strengths and weaknesses for each army, and I assume that this is accurately representing the actual armies that fought in the battles. Your given 26 points (if you chose the large battle) to choose the makeup of your army, and you decide based on the strengths of each unit.

You then choose how to line up your units, and begin the battle.

During the battle you decide where to move your armies, and after you execute your commands your units and your enemies units move turn by turn. It takes a couple of turns for you to move into battle position, but this reflects actual battlefield tactics of moving your armies based on the enemy’s position.

I think the real utility in this game is in its story mode because it actually provides you with interpretive elements of history, but during the battles the player gets an idea of battle field tactics which is also useful for educating young people. It gives a fuller sense of what historical battles were like the decisions made during them.

 

Jamestown Adventure

I was excited to review the game Jamestown Adventure because my interest is in colonial America. Unfortunately, the game is very simplistic and I was able to complete the entire game several times during several different scenarios in a short amount of time. After completing your adventure you are given the option of printing out both the results of your game and the actual history for comparison.

When I followed the known history of Jamestown and recreated those events in the game the colonists were hungry because their crops did not do well in the marshy soil, suffered a malaria epidemic, were poisoned by brackish water, sanitation was poor, found Pyrite instead of gold and were disappointed about not finding gold – all in less than five minutes. By following the actual history my ratings were: Food – fair (trading with Powhatan Indians provided several bushels of corn); Health – poor; Wealth – good (trading with Indians provided a refined form of tobacco) however the moral rating was good and I was promoted to Governor of Virginia!

The game does have redeeming quality of the game is that you can play the game multiple times using different scenarios making better decisions each time. While I find the game simplistic and somewhat boring, it is actually an excellent learning tool for elementary age students and a unique way to teach history to that age group.