Education Pt. 2

by Darius Kazemi on April 7, 2005

in Uncategorized

I’d like to point out that the hypothetical Civ-like game with good modding tools for educators mentioned in Darren’s comment is under development at Muzzy Lane.

Muzzy Lane’s inaugural game, represents an innovative new direction for PC strategy games. Using accurate historical data, Making History™ puts you in the role of an actual head of state, leading your nation through real historical challenges. Everything flows from your decisions. For every action you take, the game’s sophisticated AI and dynamic world models challenge you with unique, historically valid consequences. In-game Advisors (based on actual historic figures) give you intelligent advice on military, diplomatic, domestic, and economic options. You negotiate with other players, prepare your plans, make the choices, and take action.

The features page mentions a “powerful set of customization tools.” While I don’t see them mention “modding for teachers” in particular, I know that their design philosophy is very educator-oriented.


Craig Perko April 8, 2005 at 8:13 pm

Unfortunately, these kinds of simulations always have serious political leanings – even if by accident. For example, war has a lot of different effects on the culture of a nation… but exactly what those effects are is hotly contested depending on your political point of view. And these points of view are NOT compatible.

Sure, I have a preference that I believe is based on logic, but so do they. The game will end up as political indoctrination no matter which of us makes it. Kids, who are especially susceptable, will almost certainly fall for it hook, line, and sinker.

Darius Kazemi April 8, 2005 at 8:29 pm

I hate to be rude, but so the hell what? ALL teaching is politically biased! Especially teaching about politics. All teaching about politics (and even all teaching not about politics) end up being about political indoctrination.

Craig Perko April 8, 2005 at 9:11 pm

Hmm, I guess you’re right on that. I just can’t figure out how to make a computer game teach liberal arts (such as history) while having ANY use other than political indoctrination. It seems like it would JUST be indoctrination.

What are they planning on teaching? History? I can’t think of a single portrayal of a historical event which isn’t just politics. Introducing ‘other ways of looking at it’ will just make it MORE political.

Darius Kazemi April 8, 2005 at 10:36 pm

Okay, but your argument boils down to (1) either we stop teaching history, period, or (2) we ignore the issue and teach what we think is right, or at least teach what is set by the curriculum.

I mean, every high school history textbook is notoriously biased. Keep in mind that these games by Muzzy Lane are for late high school and college students, who for the most part should be able to make up their minds as to biases anyway. In fact, I’ll bet part of any educational usage of the games would involve identifying biases inherent in the model, and possibly an exercise involving removing the biases.

Craig Perko April 8, 2005 at 10:41 pm

Well, I certainly have no way to intervene. Educational games are going to be made eventually, and eventually they won’t all suck.

But I don’t have the faith in the teachers you do. If they make identifying bias part of the education, I will buy you dinner every night of that year’s GDC.

No hard feelings about the clash of ideals, I hope.

Darren Torpey April 9, 2005 at 6:14 am

Actually, Craig, according to Henry Jenkins, some educators (some of the ones he’s talked to) are making the identification and understanding of biases a part of the overall education. He mentioned that, along with many other really neat things that gave me th Civ idea, when he came to talk at WPI recently.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that all educators will be so forward thinking and brave, but that can never be helped. There is no magic bullet for incompetency, corruption, and laziness. =)

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