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.