In this week’s reading, the in depth look at the ARG “Tecumseh Lies Here” reveals how to effectively use gaming as a narrative in history. Unlike a typical video game that tends to take the Hollywood approach by making things exciting instead of historically accurate, the creators took painstaking details in order to build a game that sticks to the history, yet while in a subversive timeline. By partnering with the University of Western Ontario, Compeau and MacDougall was able to integrate the universities’s collections into the game, while not relying on corporate sponsorship that allows editors to revise the game for better sales.
This approach cannot be understated in a world of smart devices and the stereotype of historical knowledge being important dates. Indeed, by focusing on an interactive adventure to engage learning and participation offers a better platform compared to the typical lecture hall setting. Critics may reject these measures, but “edutainment” software like Minnesota Educational Computing Consortium’s “The Oregon Trail” has left a cultural impact along with imparting the knowledge of challenges faced by early American pioneers. Additionally, with computer gaming allowing the use of modding, historically correct games with attention to detail can be realized by developers similar to Compeau and MacDougall. The mod Europa Barbarorum for the historical game Rome: Total War completely engrosses the player by use of historical maps, detailed historical records regarding Roman society, historically correct models, and even as far as translating unit speech into proper Latin and Greek. While “Tecumseh Lies Still” obviously took a straight educational path, the integration of interactive entertainment and history provides exciting opportunities for new pedagogue techniques in the classroom. From a personal perspective, the game “The Ides of March – The Roman Republic Game” is a similar concept to “Tecumseh” except with a subversive timeline set after the assassination of Julius Caesar. I was fortunate to experience this in lieu of a final exam in an undergraduate course at Appalachian. This offered a thoroughly engaging exercise that was able to capture the chaos of Roman politics during the Republic significantly better than typical final exam fodder in forms of essay and multiple choice questions.