American Social History Project • Center for Media and Learning

ASHP/CML Embarks on Historic Gaming Project!

Published March 30, 2011

Mission US, an innovative multimedia game project to improve learning U.S. history in middle and high schools, has received funding from theCorporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB)American History and Civics Initiative. A finalist in the nationwide competition, Mission US is an unusual cooperative effort among historians, educators, broadcasters, and gamers, with the American Social History Project/Center for Media and Learning (serving as the project’s principal content developer and advisor) working in a collaboration with New York’s public television stationThirteen/WNET; Electric Funstuff, a Manhattan-based game developer; and Education Development Center- Center for Children and Technology, a leader in educational research.

A detail from Paul Revere’s 1770 print, “The Bloody Massacre.”
A detail from Paul Revere’s 1770 print, “The Bloody Massacre.”

Mission US features five online video games set in different eras in U.S. history. Assuming the roles of printer’s apprentice, runaway slave, railroad worker, muckraking journalist, and Dust Bowl migrant, student-players explore rich historical settings, develop relationships with key figures, investigate primary documents, witness pivotal events, and choose their own path in life. In the prototype game produced in 2008, “For Crown or Colony?,” students play Nat Wheeler, a printer’s apprentice who arrives in Boston in 1770 on the eve of the Boston Massacre. By completing tasks assigned to Nat by the printer, students explore colonial Boston and learn about the growing tensions between Patriots, redcoats, and loyalists. In addition to the game,Mission US provides online resources for teachers and students that include a robust set of classroom activities and assignments to enhance learning.

With the awarding of this grant, the prototype will be publicly released later this year. And we now will embark with our partners to establish the historical narrative, characters, visualizations, character dialogue, primary documents, and classroom materials for upcoming games.

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