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Review: Replaying History

Aaron Outland
TED 690

6/17/2016

Review: Replaying History

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Abstract
Engaging and supporting student learning is a very important domain for student learning. It
encompasses making content accessible, student engagement, developmentally appropriate
teaching practices, and teaching English learners. In this paper, I will analyze research done in
video-game based history education, and how gamification can increase student engagement and
support learning. The paper reviewed is Replaying history: Learning world history through
playing Civilization III.

Review: Replaying History

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As a gamer, I have a personal interest in incorporating games of all kinds into classroom
activities. As an educator, I have a professional interest in maximizing student engagement and
learning. According to Squire (2002), these efforts go hand in hand.
The Civilization series of games involve building a civilization through technology,
culture, trade, and war. Civilizations start at the development of agricultural and move through
technological history until the modern age. The game incorporates historical events and concepts
but allows players to manipulate these events and concepts to the benefit of their own
civilization. The game is an interesting example of how a game with "wide appeal, design
sophistication, and unique affordances as a world history simulation" can be used educationally
(Squire 2002).
Study Methodology
The dissertation looked at three different educational settings, with approximately 20
hours of instructional time in each setting. The settings were 1) a month-long unit on world
history, as a part of a ninth grade humanities class at a Media and Technology Charter School, 2)
A subset of these students participated in a week-long, half-day computer camp investigating the
potential of using Civilization III to learn about social studies, 3) an after-school computer club
sponsored by the YWCA but occurring at a suburban, working class Boston middle school.
Study Purpose
The purpose of this study was to "explore what happens when Civilization III, a complex
computer game developed in entertainment contexts enters formal learning environments"
(Squire 2002). The study examines how the game used engagement, how social interactions
occur, how understandings emerge, and what role the game played in all of these areas. In short,
it was to study the efficacy of using entertaining games for educational purposes.

Review: Replaying History

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Study Findings
The study found that "Civilization III engaged each student in unique ways, and this
engagement affected the kinds of questions students asked of their games, the kinds of
conceptual understandings that arose through game play, and the interpretations they made about
history" (Squire, 2002) Students were required to apply their knowledge of history and
geography, and these "became tools for game play and successful students developed conceptual
understandings across world history, geography, and politics" (Squire 2002). Squire also
indicated that there were some challenges to integrating a complex simulation game into the The
Study found that there was great potential for using simulation games in world history education,
but also the significant, unsolved challenges in integrating such a complex game within
classroom settings.
Most of all, Squire found that the use of games was very disruptive in the classroom. He
noted that:
"Students who had failed history found ways of constructing and enacting identities with
games. Games recruited some learners while repelling others. Static textual resources
became tools for action and concepts were tools for solving problems. Power relations
were negotiated as gaming practices emerged through relations among students goals,
the games affordances, and the broader social context." (Squire 2002)
Games changed the rules, and that might serve as their primary function in a classroom setting.
Overall, I am convinced that the use of games, especially complex simulations, has educational
advantages for students. I will continue to incorporate these sorts of games into my own
teaching.

Review: Replaying History

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Source
Squire, K. D. (2004). Replaying history: Learning world history through playing Civilization III
(Unpublished doctoral dissertation). Indiana University.