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New game to teach students about slavery, the American Civil War
New game to teach students about slavery, the American Civil War
January 24, 2012 | By Tom Curtis

January 24, 2012 | By Tom Curtis
More: Serious, Business/Marketing

Public media provider Thirteen today published a new educational web game that teaches students about U.S. history by putting them into the shoes of a runaway slave in the years leading up to the Civil War.

The game, dubbed Flight to Freedom, is the second in Thirteen's "Mission US" series, which will eventually offer four unique web games intended to complement a traditional history curriculum.

The previous title, For Crown or Colony?, covers the events surrounding the Revolutionary War, and future entries will detail the construction of the transcontinental railroad and the evolution of journalism in the early 20th century.

The developer behind these titles is the New York-based studio Electric Funstuff, which has previously developed other forms of educational software for young children.

Alongside publisher Thirteen, funding for the project comes from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

CPB CEO and president Patricia Harrison explained that the project's supporters hope to use Mission US to connect with students "using one of the most popular media in their lives today -- interactive, online games -- to engage and educate them in American history and civics."

The first two entries in the Mission US series are available to play for free at the project's official website.

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Laina Lain
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I wonder how that will be received.

Kevin Fisk
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If history is any indication this will not go down well. We can look back to MECC's 'Freedom!' which I grew up playing during the 90's. I was a big fan of old adventure games and this one was really challenging and not really dumbed down for children considering the subject. It was eventually pulled from the market even though it was a good game. Most kids just weren't able to comprehend the themes in the intended way.

Spencer Grey
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Heya, I'm lead dev on Flight to Freedom. We're strongly hoping that history doesn't repeat itself here. The whole team of historians and educators and designers was very cognizant of the dangers of 'Nintendo-izing' and trivializing the subject and/or creating something too traumatic for students. Hopefully we have walked the narrow path between. So far teacher/student response has been ecstatic and the press has been kind:
-02-05/black-history-month/52950088/1 . But as Kevin points us to in that link, parents must understand that this is not something that lives in isolation, a HUGE amount of work was put in place by Thirteen to create quality teacher support-materials and to do teacher-training across the country. This is really challenging but rewarding work. Cheers.