One of my fondest memories of playing video games was playing the original Medal of Honor on Playstation 1 with my brother. For those of you who don’t know, Medal of Honor is a first person shooter set during the Second World War, and is largely based around true historical occurrences. While I know it’s a video game, and isn’t entirely historically accurate, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t learn a thing or two at a young age from playing it.
Today, I have a massive interest in history and war history in particular and that has a lot to do with playing these games when I was younger.
The point I’m trying to make is that a classic first person shooter can end up being more than just fun and games (ha!). Medal of Honor isn’t the only game based on true historical events. The on going Assassins Creed franchise is a crossover between true historical facts and a fictional world. As an Australian with very little knowledge about the American Revolution, Assassins Creed 3 taught me the basics and sparked my interest in reading up on it more.
While I have no issue with traditional forms of learning, I think there’s a lot to be said about gamification and game based learning in a history classroom. Allowing a student to explore a world, rather than read it on paper or hear it spoken about will undoubtedly allow a lot of people to emphathise with historical occurrences on a scale that other forms of teaching simply could not. Participating in the collapse of the Berlin Wall, witnessing JFK’s assassination and seeing it’s effect on the surrounding environment as opposed to reading a historians analysis of it will allow the foundation for learning – it will grow interest in students that are otherwise disinterested, and it will help those that struggle to grasp concepts wrap their head around them in a much more digestiable form.
Thanks for reading, let us know in the comments if you’ve had any experience with history and video games!