Over the past few weeks, we have been exploring different video games in class, whether they be different in game play style or subject matter. After much consideration and exploration, I choose to more closely examine the game “MissionUS”, which is an American History based game intended for middle and high schoolers. In this game, players are able to create a free account and enter in their grade range and then explore through the variety of time periods that Mission has for students to choose from. While I was learning how to play the game, I choose both the Great Depression and World War II games, but some other choices include the American Revolution, the experience of immigrants in the early 20th Century, and the Civil Rights movement.
I found this game to be very engaging, interesting, and easy to navigate and figure out. Once you choose a time period, you then are introduced to the fictional characters and can read their descriptions. Then the game begins, where it becomes a simulation style and you take on the role of one of the characters. Identity is a major aspect of this game since a large part of the game is the fact that you take on the role of a character. James Gee discusses the positive aspects of incorporating identity into games, “Good games offer players identities that trigger a deep investment on the part of the player” (Gee 32). Mission definitely encompasses this, as I was soon feeling very connected to the characters whose roles I was assuming. The game tells you what the characters are feeling and you make decisions based off of it, so very quickly you feel immersed in the game.
The game is split into different sections: Prologue, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Epilogue, which cover different aspects of the chosen historical time period, and you can earn badges in each one. For each section, you must make decisions as the character, so it is like a choose your own adventure game, which I really liked because your fate is in your own hands and it also puts you in the position of ordinary people during these time periods who were faced with hard decisions. I really liked the actual setup of this game because the simulation style provided engaging characters and backgrounds, but there were also actual photos from the time period added as well, which I felt created a great balance of active gameplay and learning history firsthand. This game taught me things that I had either forgotten or didn’t learn in history, along with giving me an immersive and engaging experience. I also liked that the game covered topics that dealt with racism and other injustices. It is important for students to learn about these topics in history so we can teach them how to learn from it them and treat everyone with kindness and respect. For example, the World War II aspect of the game covered Japanese internment camps. This is a part of World War II home front history that is often glossed over or not even covered, so it was a nice change from the typical things covered. Furthermore, the game was very easy to figure out. There is a “5 Things to Know Before You Play” icon, which was helpful, but this is a game that can be figured out easily as you’re playing it.
Article source: https://dshutkin386.files.wordpress.com/2022/08/gee2007goodgamesgoodlearning.pdf
4 thoughts on “Video Game Experience Blog Post #1”
Hi, Julia! This game sounds amazing. I love how many options there are for time periods you can play in. This is great for students with different interests and/or for students who want to experiment with more than one time period. I can see this being especially useful for students who work ahead and do not want to play the same game over and over again as they wait for the rest of their classmates to finish.
It’s difficult to find a game that is simultaneously engaging, interesting, and easy to navigate, but you seem to have found one that is all three! Students’ ability to make decisions as their characters is reminiscent of the co-design principle in the Gee reading, where players can “buy in” to the game. As the article says, this is a key part of motivation, and there is no doubt that your game will motivate students. Perhaps even more importantly, though, your game will help students develop empathy, as they are put in the position of ordinary people who were faced with decisions much harder than ones they have ever had to make. The inclusion of actual photos from the time period is sure to help with this!
Hey Julia! Thanks for your post! Your game sounded very interesting and the pictures looked so cool and gave me a good idea of what the game is like! I think that it is especially cool that you can pick your grade range which would make it easily accessible for different units, grades, etc. This will be a helpful for whatever grade you are placed in!
I also think it was so cool that It was so interactive! I liked that you could pick the time period and then would get character descriptions and descriptions of the time period itself. This way it is fun but still informative for students! They will gain a deeper perspective of the events that occurred by placing themselves directly into the situation.
As Morgan said in her comment, this also reminded me of the co-design principle. The student must feel like they are in control and invested in what they are doing as a way to learn best. By making this interactive, students will better learn the material!
Hey Julia! I think that your game, Mission US, sounds like it has a really nice balance to the students because it seems like it could be a lot of fun but also still educational. I am wondering if you discovered this game on your own or if you heard of it because you played it when you were in middle school? From the start, you mentioned how the students can enter their grade level and a time period. This is very cool because since the game knows the grade level of the student, they can ask the appropriate questions based on their age. Also I think that since you can enter any time period, that this makes the game extremely versatile to teachers. When you become a teacher it seems like you could use this game for multiple different units with your students! I also like the idea that you get to pretend to be a character from that time period. I think that with that, you are really able to take on the feelings and responsibilities of someone from that time period. You are able to control your character and create the decisions that they make for themselves at this time. I think that it is important to be organized as a teacher, so I think that the game is very beneficial because you expressed how it is broken up into parts such as the prologue, part 1, part 2, part 3, and the epilogue. With each part focusing on a specific time period, I think that it is helpful that there are multiple parts so it helps students stay organized and helps them think periodically. It is smart that students can earn badges in each level because it gives them an incentive. It gives them something to work for and makes them want to do well in the game. This essentially will help them learn more too because of the game!
Hi Julia, your reflection on your game was really insightful. I actually almost chose this game myself because I thought it was so applicable, as you explained. I think one of the most interesting components of your game is that the students are really able to get into the story’s plot. By having the identity piece be such an integral factor in the success of the game, students become immersed and invested as they take on the role of a character in the time period. As you mentioned, Gee goes into detail about how identifying with a character can increase engagement with video games. Another reason I think your choice to use this video game is that there are so many different topics to cover for a history class. Any middle or high school grade student could easily apply their history topic to this game because of this variety. I feel that this game could also be a gateway for students to explore other topics in history that they might not have gotten to yet in their studies because it is so engaging. I think it has a really great balance of educational content and entertainment components. Overall, I really loved your game choice and could totally see myself using it in a social studies classroom. Great job!