THIRTEEN’s Award-Winning History Game Series Mission US Launches Its Fourth Virtual Adventure for Teens

Students experience the struggle to support a family and protect workers' rights in early 1900s New York City.

Students experience the struggle to support a family and protect workers' rights in early 1900s New York City.

NEW YORK, Feb. 12, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — THIRTEEN announces the launch of “City of Immigrants,” the fourth interactive experience in the award-winning Mission US series of free, digital role-playing games created to engage middle and high school students in the exploration and understanding of U.S. history.

“City of Immigrants” debuts on February 11, 2015 and supports the study of immigration, the labor movement, and cultural identity in the American History curriculum. Players take on the role of Lena Brodsky, a Russian Jewish teen who has recently immigrated to New York City in 1907. As Lena makes the Lower East Side her home, she struggles to help support her family and finds herself in the middle of the growing labor movement.

Mission US is part of the digital transformation sweeping the educational landscape, giving students new and powerful ways to explore historical and cultural issues. Through the four role-playing games, young people can explore history in an engaging and personalized way, making it memorable and meaningful,” said Neal Shapiro, president and CEO of WNET.

As young people play “City of Immigrants,” they gain important insights into the struggle for safe working conditions, fair wages, and the right to bargain collectively. At the same time, they experience the challenges of cultural differences, assimilation, and prejudice. Players will interact with a variety of characters, from factory supervisors to family and religious leaders, who all had roles in creating America’s labor movement and strong communities in New York. As they assume the role of Lena, players must decide: Does she dare speak up and stand up for workers’ rights? Can she continue to support her family? Players will make choices and experience the consequences of those choices the same choices immigrants grappled with as they made their way in the “land of opportunity.”

The content for “City of Immigrants” was developed by a team of historians and educators at the American Social History Project (ASHP)/Center for Media & Learning, a research center at the Graduate Center, City University of New York, in partnership with the Lower East Side Tenement Museum, which consulted on historical content for the game and development of educators materials. The Museum building and its artifacts also served as models for design of the game’s locations, costumes, and props. THIRTEEN worked with Electric Funstuff, an educational software company that specializes in using gaming approaches and multimedia techniques to create effective learning experiences, to design, develop, and produce the game. Formative research was conducted by Education Development Center’s Center for Children and Technology.

Accompanying curriculum activities and rich supplemental resources including maps, personal narratives, cultural artifacts and more will help students understand the historical context of the period. Educators and players at home can access Mission US “City of Immigrants” via streaming and download at

The Mission US series of role-playing games engage young people in the exploration, discovery, and understanding of U.S. history. Research has shown that, by assuming the roles of peers from the past, students develop a more personal, memorable, and meaningful connection with complex historical content and context. The first game in the series, “For Crown or Colony?” puts players in the role of a 14-year-old printer’s apprentice in 1770 Boston. “Flight to Freedom,” the second in the series, gives students an unforgettable experience as a 14-year-old enslaved young woman who escapes to the North in 1848. In “A Cheyenne Odyssey” students “live the life” of Little Fox, a fictional member of the Northern Cheyenne tribe, who must learn to adapt to all the impacts of westward expansion in 1866. A fifth mission about the challenges of the Great Depression is currently in development.

For educators, each Mission US game includes a collection of educator-developed resources. These materials, like the games themselves, are available at no cost and include document-based questions, primary sources, class activities, vocabulary builders, standards alignments, writing prompts and visual aids. Professional development videos help teachers integrate the games into the curriculum successfully.

Mission USnow proudly serves more than 950,000 registered users, including 860,000 young people and 42,000 teachers. It is part of a larger initiative by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) under its American History and Civics Initiative to evaluate the potential benefits of digital history games for student learning.

Mission US has earned a Parents’ Choice Award, Common Sense Media ON for Learning Award, a Gold Medal from the International Serious Play Awards, and a Webby Award Official Honoree designation. “A Cheyenne Odysseyreceived the 2014 Games for Change Award for Most Significant Impact. “Flight to Freedom”won the 2013 Japan Prize Competition, honoring the best in educational media.

Mission US is produced by THIRTEEN Productions LLC in association with WNET. Sandra Sheppard THIRTEEN’s director of children’s and educational media, is the executive-in charge. Jill Peters is executive producer. Michelle Chen is producer. Funding for Mission US is provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting with additional support from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Educational outreach support is provided by The Page & Otto Marx, Jr. Foundation and Atran Foundation.

About WNET
As New York’s flagship public media provider and the parent company of THIRTEEN and WLIW21 and operator of NJTV, WNET brings quality arts, education and public affairs programming to more than 5 million viewers each week. WNET produces and presents such acclaimed PBS series as Nature, Great Performances, American Masters, PBS NewsHour Weekend, Charlie Rose and a range of documentaries, children’s programs, and local news and cultural offerings available on air and online. Pioneers in educational programming, WNET has created such groundbreaking series as Get the Math, Oh Noah! and Cyberchase and provides tools for educators that bring compelling content to life in the classroom and at home. WNET highlights the tri-state’s unique culture and diverse communities through NYC-ARTS, Reel 13, NJTV News with Mary Alice Williams and MetroFocus, the multi-platform news magazine focusing on the New York region. WNET is also a leader in connecting with viewers on emerging platforms, including the THIRTEEN Explore App where users can stream PBS content for free.

About the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB)
The Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private, nonprofit corporation created by Congress in 1967, is the steward of the federal government’s investment in public broadcasting.It helps support the operation of more than 1,400 locally-owned and operated public television and radio stations nationwide, and is the largest single source of funding for research, technology, and program development for public radio, television, and related online services.

About the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH)
Created in 1965 as an independent federal agency, the National Endowment for the Humanities supports research and learning in history, literature, philosophy, and other areas of the humanities by funding selected, peer-reviewed proposals from around the nation.Because democracy demands wisdom, NEH serves and strengthens our republic by promoting excellence in the humanities and conveying the lessons of history to all Americans.

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