Home > Uncategorized > Can MMORPG virtual worlds change our history class?

Can MMORPG virtual worlds change our history class?

When I was growing up, role playing games such as RuneQuest provided me hours of entertainment with friends, as we imagined fantasy worlds of strategic game play. Today, digital media has exponentially taken one of my boyhood hobbies into visually majestic simulations. These once storytelling games are now popular online games like World of Warcraft and Final Fantasy. According to wikipedia, Massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) is a genre of role-playing video games in which a very large number of players interact with one another within a virtual game world. These virtual environments have finally infiltrated education, as teachers are researching and piloting ways to use game-based education to reach their students. The most well-known school using game-based education is Quest to Learn in New York.

“For those kids who become leaders of guilds in World of Warcraft, that’s as much an experience as being the captain of the football team, being the editor of the school newspaper.” -Dr. Henry Jenkins, USC Professor

Game-based education is an evolving education strategy of great interest to me. Second Life has gained popularity in game-based education, but has not been widely accepted in schools. So what would it take for schools to integrate virtual worlds in classrooms?

I have been thinking what types of games would work in schools. And it wasn’t until I was watching the History channel, combined with my childhood hobby of role-playing games when it finally clicked. I would love to see software companies develop virtual worlds that pertained to historical periods combined with MMORPG game components to provide a collaborative and critical thinking experience for students.

Could you imagine a classroom immersed in an Ancient Greece virtual world learning about the Peloponnesian War or students engaged in congressional debates during the Civil War era. You could have students play roles like Pericles and Archidamus II in the virtual world, learning about history standards while immersed in MMORPG game play. There are a multitude of cross-curricular standards that could be met while in a virtual world, such as real-time conversations related to historical facts, mathematical calculations with maps, and writing reflections/investigations on simulations. Role-playing has always been an effective education strategy in language arts and history, and MMORPG virtual worlds can only enhance that experience. I am a relatively newbie to game-based education, does this historical simulation world exist? I could only imagine if this existed when I was a kid…

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