At the 13th annual Games for Change festival this week, Sid Meier—the creator of world history strategy game Civilization—announced Civilization Edu for the classroom.
On a panel on Thursday, Meier talked about whether Civilization is an “educational” game, as it features accurate historical moments and inspired a love of world history in many players.
“Fun always comes first in our game development,” he told Susanna Pollack, the president of Games for Change. “I make a distinction between education and learning. I think learning is a component of most every video game. If you play Tetris, you’re learning how to fit little squares together. And you’re always expected to get better, to beat that high score.”
A deeper learning experience wasn’t a deliberate design decision with Civilization, he admitted. “We kind of joke that we do our research in the kid’s section of the library. We want you to start playing with the common knowledge that everyone has. … We don’t want you to have to read every history book to be able to play the game. But maybe we’re going to intrigue you to learn a little more about these historical characters that you run into.”
He added, “So the gameplay is really about creating your own story, but in a world that feels real enough that it feels important. I think those things come together to create a fun learning experience.”
The original Civilization came with a 200-page manual, Meier said, that was a complement to the game and provided more opportunities to dig into history and its leaders. “We felt that learning and allowing the player to feel smarter was part of the satisfaction of the game.”
Sid Meier, publisher 2K, and GlassLab Games are partnering to release Civilization Edu, a special version of Civilization for the high school classroom. GlassLab will provide data analytics, curriculum, assessments for Common Core, and more for schools. It will launch by 2017.
Listen to the full talk with Sid Meier at Games for Change on the Classcraft Periscope feed.
Photo credit: Jane Kratochvil / Games for Change