Video Games Can Teach Us About History

Video games aren't "all bad." Check out another way video games can help teachers and students!

As I have mentioned in previous articles, video games can work in a variety of positive ways. Games can be therapeutic, they can bring people together, they can be a positive influence on our communities, and they can even be used as a medical treatment

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Bringing History to Video Games

Christina Gish-Hill, an associate professor of anthropology at Iowa State University, is helping PBS create an educational video game called A Cheyenne Odyssey. The game places the player in the shoes of a member of the Cheyenne tribe, so to give them a perspective of the Western expansion in the United States.

Below: Christina Gish-Hill

The game is geared towards middle school children and it is the third game from the Mission U.S series Thirteen Productions has produced. For each Mission U.S series, Thirteen Productions worked with several historians and educators to bring in the factual content needed for each one of these historical and educational video games. 

More on Cheyenne Odyssey Gameplay

The setting takes place in the 1860’s and players assume the role of a Northern Cheyenne boy named Little Fox. The game follows Little Fox from childhood until adulthood and players are able to interact with several different characters, which includes settlers, soldiers, and traders. The game teaches players how the lives of the Cheyenne tribe were affected by the decline of buffalos, the expansion of settlers, the rise of the reservation and the railroad. 

Dr. Richard Littlebear, President of Chief Dull Knife College and the advisor for the project, explains how the game teaches players real events that the Cheyenne tribe experienced. He also adds,

“…this is much more than a game about the high and low points of our history. It teaches students how to make decisions and how to live with the consequences of those decisions, just as one has to do in real life.”

Great for Teachers

The game can be used by  children as young as 9-10; however, I believe the game can be played by anyone who wants to learn a bit more about history. In addition, teachers are able to use the material within the game in order to create lesson plans for the classroom.

There are several different ways children learn, and I believe this is a great way to bring a new learning tool into the classroom—especially since games are very engaging to not only children, but also adults. 

Release Date

Hill started helping out with the project back in April 2013 where she looked over the scripts she would receive and then later served as the games tester before the launch date. The game was released last month on October 16. You can check out the game and the other Mission U.S games here


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