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History & Geography

Students can make the past come alive with these fun and informative games. Witness how history unfolds from 4,000 B.C. to the present. Take part in building cities, gathering resources, and waging war. Learn firsthand the meanings of words like “monarchy” and “anarchy.” Many of these games have manuals or in-game encyclopedias filled with historical references. The rich and engaging content also inspires students to read books related to the topic.

Age of Empires (world history, military history) - This series of historical real-time strategy games allows students to explore (and change) world history, learning how empires rise and fall in the process. Students are challenged to study military strategies, resource development, and expansion of civilizations. The first title of the series was released in 1997. Since then, there have been many additional titles and spin-offs. The gameplay revolves around two main game modes: random map and campaign. The original Age of Empires focuses on historical events in Europe, Africa and Asia, from the Stone Age to the Iron Age. Its add-on, The Rise of Rome, explores the legendary Roman Empire. Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings, spans 1,000 years from the fall of Rome through the Middle Ages. Age of Empires II: The Conquerors Expansion focuses on the Spanish Conquistadors, Montezuma, El Cid, and Attila the Hun. Age of Empires III gives students a broader understanding of world history in the early modern period when Europe was colonizing the Americas and several Asian nations were on the rise. Age of Empires III: The Asian Dynasties adds three Asian civilizations: China, India and Japan. Age of Empires III: The War Chiefs adds three Native American civilizations: the Sioux, the Iroquois, and the Aztecs. The newest installment, Age of Empires Online, takes a different approach as a free-to-play online game.

Civilization (world history, geography, economics, government, diplomacy) - Sid Meier’s Civilization is a popular series of turn-based strategy games set amid historical events. These games help students to understand how societies are shaped, and learn what causes a civilization to survive or fail. Learn all about famous historical figures, different systems of government (everything from anarchy to communism), world geography, and the history of civilizations. Basic gameplay functions are similar throughout the series; such as building a civilization on a macro-scale from the stone age to the space age. Each turn allows the player to move his or her units on the map, build or improve new cities and units, and initiate negotiations with the computer-controlled players. Successful diplomacy will depend on players carefully managing relationships with other leaders. The player can also choose technologies to research and develop in order to advance and grow their empire. These reflect the cultural, intellectual, and technical sophistication of the civilization, and usually allow the player to build new units or to improve their cities with new structures. Build an empire to span history and make every critical social, economic and political decision. In most Civilization games, one may win by military conquest, building an interstellar space ship, or achieving the highest score. Sid Meier first published Civilization in 1991. Throughout the various different Civilization games, over 40 different civilizations and almost 100 different leaders have been represented. There are multiple versions of the game, according to time period or genre, such as colonization or revolution, so students can choose which angle of history they want to bring to life. Civilization World is a free-to-play massively multiplayer online version of the game.

Making History (world history, government, military strategy) – This turn-based strategy game immerses students in the turbulent political and economic landscape before and during WWII. The simulation lets you play the role of a WWII-era national leader responsible for creating alliances, building weapons, commanding troops, and managing international policies. Every nation in the world is playable, but the choices and strategies can be vastly different. It's up to you to determine how you wish to develop your nation. Cities can be customized by constructing munitions factories, shipyards, research labs, and a variety of other buildings. Experiment with a nation's economic and military elements, and make your own history. Will you block trade routes with your navy, choking off enemy supplies? Will you grant a restless ethnic or religious group independence to prevent widespread revolt? Will you build extensive trade agreements to expand your influence, or invest in an expensive technologically-advanced army to crush all opposition? While trying to keep your own plans on track, you will be challenged by outside powers controlled by period-inspired AI or human players in a multiplayer match. They will pursue their own agendas and interfere in the affairs of you and your allies. In this game students will learn about the impact of political decisions, the importance of developing a national defense and transportation infrastructure, maintaining domestic stability, producing vital resources, and the ramifications of diplomacy, espionage, and international relations.

Mission Possible: World Geography (physical geography, map reading) – This game by EdVenture Software is not a very sophisticated program but it does have the potential to provide an interesting way for students to learn geography facts. The player is a secret agent with a mission to complete, which requires answering geography questions. Featured geography skills include: countries, capitals, states/provinces, cities, bodies of water, deserts, mountains, and famous sites. Master your sense of direction by navigating around the world using colorful political and satellite maps. Visit famous landmarks from the Eiffel Tower to the Great Wall of China. As you progress through this geography learning game, you will eventually achieve the rank of 007.

Mission US (American history) - An interactive role-playing adventure in which students can experience different eras in American history. As players progress through each period, they are given an understanding of the cultural climate at the time through the viewpoint of various characters. Throughout the game, players must take care of various tasks while learning about various cultural ideologies and facts. The first level of the game takes place in Boston in the year 1770 and leads up to the events that caused the Boston Massacre, an incident that spawned a revolution throughout the British American colonies. As a young print maker’s apprentice, the player learns various “smartwords” which represent key ideas and terms relevant to the time period. Interactions with characters challenge players to choose a side in each conflict present in that game’s chapter. The decisions you make in conversation affect which side of the story you hear, giving players the opportunity to discover history from all angles. Mission US is free to play at www.mission-us.org.

Oregon Trail (American history, geography, map reading) - This fun and educational game by The Learning Company applies history, geography and math in “real-life” settings to help kids develop decision making and problem solving skills. In this role-playing game, students age 8 and up learn history firsthand while experiencing what it was like to live in the 1800s. The object of the game is to safely guide a group of pioneers from Independence, Missouri, to a destination out West (such as Oregon, California, or Utah). First you must organize your wagon train, choosing people and buying supplies needed to complete the rugged journey. Talk with pioneers - Irish, African Americans, American Indians, and other settlers. Listen carefully to their advice. Next you must decide how to spend your money. Food, clothes, medicine, ammunition, and spare parts are all crucial to finishing your journey. However, you have a limited budget for food and supplies. Then you are off! Consult your guidebooks, read maps, and study the landscape to find the best route. As you travel, you make decisions about how to cross difficult rivers and hills, which places to trade, hunt, or stop and rest, and how to treat members of the party who are injured or sick. There are three levels of difficulty, lots of choices to make, different routes to take, and unexpected scenarios that come up which you have to deal with just like in real life. Who knows if raging rivers, buffalo stampedes, and other dangers lie just around the bend? Along the way, you learn about native plants, animals, history and more. Players can really understand what it was like in the old west with animated mini-movies, campfire tales, authentic journals to read, maps and newspapers from the 1840s, and lots of people to meet and talk with. The Oregon Trail is also available to play on Facebook.

Pharaoh (ancient history, mythology) - Students will gain firsthand knowledge of ancient Egyptian societies in this isometric city-building strategy game. The goal is to build up Egyptian civilizations from small communities to large-scale cities complete with pyramids and obelisks. The game begins simply with a few jobs and homes to attract settlers. Once your population begins growing, you have to supply food and water, religious facilities, entertainment, and other luxuries to attract a larger and more affluent populace. You must also ensure that your people are protected by a suitably strong militia. Accomplishing these goals is a complex process. Most goods require natural resources in order to be produced, and many of the resources must be imported. Many goods must be imported as well, and you have to manage the distribution of these items to make sure everyone gets enough of what they need. Imports can be expensive, so you must also produce items for export. The regular flooding of the Nile River means that you must produce or import enough food to last through the flood season. The primary play mode of Pharaoh is the family mode in which you control a ruling family that governs a series of cities. Those who prefer a more open-ended simulation will want to play the game's sandbox mode, which lets you build without the constraints of the scenario objectives. This game provides accurate information about Egyptian leaders, conflicts, mythology and vocabulary, so it can be a great supplement to lessons on Egyptian history.

Pirates (history, geography) - When it was originally released in 1987, Sid Meier’s Pirates! received unprecedented critical acclaim for crossing multiple game genres. Pirates! set the industry standard for innovative game design with its unique blend of open-ended role-playing, real-time strategy, and thrilling action sequences. The game takes students to the open seas on a pirate ship where they’ll encounter rich historical scenarios while engaging in battles and acquiring treasure. Most of the core gameplay elements were designed with a large degree of historical accuracy about the life and times of actual pirates in the 16th and 17th centuries, and the game world closely resembles the Caribbean of that period. This action adventure game can be a great way to teach students about the history of pirating while learning about different types of ships, geography, and more which can be applied to other historical studies.


Roman Town (archeology, ancient history) - This unique and innovative educational computer game lets you experience archaeology in a hands-on, interactive way that brings history to life. Created by a professional archaeologist and teacher, Roman Town lets you be an archaeologist and manage a team of diggers at a realistic excavation site. Experience the thrill of uncovering priceless artifacts such as pottery, bones, and coins. Exercise your problem solving and analytical thinking skills with fun puzzles and mini-games as you analyze valuable artifacts. Walk through Roman buildings in the ancient 3D-rendered town of Fossura, destroyed in 79 AD by the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius. Solve mysteries from the past and discover the details of daily life centuries ago. Players are presented with authentic and accurate information about Roman history and the process of archeology while practicing their reading comprehension and building their vocabulary. You'll even learn some Latin! A teacher's manual is available at http://www.dig-itgames.com for those who are interested in using the game in a classroom or homeschool setting.

Total War (world history, war, economics, diplomacy) - This series of games combines turn-based strategy and resource management with real-time tactical control of battles. The artificial intelligence constantly analyzes situations and reacts to your every move. Shogun: Total War is set in feudal Japan and developed according to Sun Tzu's principles in "The Art of War." Its expansion pack is called Mongol Invasion. Rome: Total War, one of the definitive historical war games for its unprecedented scale, detail, and free map movement, is set in the Roman Republic. Its expansion pack is Barbarian Invasion. Medieval: Total War is set in medieval Europe. Its expansion pack is called Viking Invasion. Medieval II: Total War covers the Age of Discovery and colonization of the Americas. An expansion pack, Medieval II: Total War: Kingdoms, contains four campaigns: the Britannia Campaign, set in the British Isles in 1258 during the reign of Henry III; the Crusades Campaign, set in the Middle East in 1174; the Teutonic Campaign, set in the Baltic region of Eastern Europe in 1250; and the Americas Campaign, set in the New World in 1521 during the decline of the Aztec and Maya civilizations. Empire: Total War is set in the 18th century and includes the Industrial Revolution, America's struggle for independence, and the colonization of India. Empire: Total War: Warpath is set in the Americas where you can control one of five different Indian nations. Napoleon: Total War focuses on the politics and major military campaigns of the French Revolutionary Wars in the late 18th century and the Napoleonic Wars of the early 19th century. Total War: Shogun 2, the latest installment of the Total War Series, is set in the middle of the 16th century in Medieval Japan.

Where in the USA is Carmen Sandiego? (US geography, vocabulary, map reading) - This classic educational game has long been a favorite of students ages 9 and up. Players travel across the United States to search for Carmen and her fellow crooks, researching places and deciphering clues related to US and state history, geography, economy, and culture. The purpose of this Carmen Sandiego game is to provide random facts about all 50 states, which makes it fun and interesting for the whole family. But the game's most educational component is geography, which it teaches effectively through the map-based navigation.


Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? (world geography, history, cultures, map reading, research skills, deductive reasoning) - "Where In The World Is Carmen Sandiego?" debuted in 1985 as a computer game and book. Over the years more games and books developed, and the series is still used as a teaching tool in many elementary schools nationwide. In this fun, classic educational game, players chase Carmen and her henchmen around the world while researching countries and solving clues. Explore interesting landscapes and cities, while absorbing historical and geographical knowledge from each of the unique destinations. "Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego" is also available as a Facebook game.

Where In Time is Carmen Sandiego / Carmen Sandiego's Great Chase Through Time (US history, world history, geography, ancient civilizations and cultures, historic events, scientific advances, chronological thinking, deductive reasoning, research skills, listening comprehension, historical analysis) - Players use a time machine to travel back and forth to different places and times to stop Carmen and her crooked cronies from stealing valuable relics from the past. The game engages kids' minds and imaginations by assigning cases to solve using the clues and reference material provided. Students learn historical facts about everything from Ancient Egypt to the first person in space – all presented in a format that rewards them for their knowledge. A multiplayer option allows up to four players to play at once, either competing against each other or collaborating with one another. The game contains over 1000 questions in seven subject areas, with the ability to also create customized questions. Content is based on national curriculum standards for grades 4-6.

Honors Project © 2011 by Peter Olsen, Mesa Community College, CIS107 Electronic Game Industry.