In 1989, Maxis (later purchased by Electronic Arts) released the first version of SimCity. In junior high school, playing computer games on my dad's computer, I was hooked. I think this is the game that turned me into a lifelong geographer and tech enthusiast. I loved designing cities, experimenting with the parameters of what would make a great city. Even early on I would try to add lots of parks and build the city around the appealing features of the natural environment like rivers, bushland, etc. I would be devastated if one of the natural disasters hit and wiped out parts of my city. As the game progressed over the years it really did get better and better. There were also variants of SimCity released such as SimFarm SimCopter and my favourite spin-off Sim Safari.
Unlike a lot of games at the time of its original release (and I would argue even now) SimCity encouraged players to consider multiple interconnecting concepts and ideas, and plan strategically for a result with positive (if virtual) social outcomes. While many "shoot 'em up" games common now do involve strategic planning, for most of them the end result is killing something or someone. This game was a real stand out.
Sim CitySim City is a computer game which allows you to build your own city. Sim City requires players to make decisions about both the built and physical environment, and consider the interplay between the different aspects. Through SimCity, players automatically begin to learn the metalanguage of urban planning and urban dynamics - using terms like residential zone, commercial zone, industry, transport infrastructure at the very basic level of the game. After repeated playing, the player begins to learn about the basic needs of a functioning city and its population, about how urban places grow and decline, human behaviour patterns and how even the best laid urban plans can go awry with an unexpected disaster. I will admit the Godzilla natural hazard does test the urban illusions - but it also adds a bit of humour. Natural hazards can be disabled.
Choose one of the following tasks, and outline the challenges that you faced in completing your task:
How does online gaming relate to the topic of Consumer Choice?
What are the consumer decisions you have to make as an online gamer?
Your friends have recently introduced you to online gaming, but you don't know a lot about it.
Investigate the range of online gaming products and services available.
- What are the different products and services?
- What are the similaraities/differences between the different products?
- Are there different brands associated with particular online gaming products? What are they?
Research a particular product related to online gaming. It may be a particular gaming console, a subscription to a particular game or gaming accessories. Ensure that you choose something that can be purchased in a range of different places (online or real)/shops. Compare the prices and deals that are available for the purchase of this item. Keep a record of all the details including price, specifications, and where it is available. Record this information in a table.
Discuss the need for consumer protection for online gamers. (approx. 1 typed page)
Create a website which teaches your classmates about consumer choice and the need for consumer protection for online gaming.
On the 100th anniversary of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the event that sparked World War I, a new video game Valiant Hearts: The Great War was released. The game is based on World War I and players can play as one of four characters: Karl, a deported German separated from his family; Anna, a Belgian student and battlefield nurse; Emile, who has been drafted into the French army and sent on a suicidal mission; and Freddie, an American motivated by personal vengeance.
The game has been designed in the style of a graphic novel, and the design was intended to emotionally engage players in the personal stories of the characters. It uses real letters throughout as narrative for the game. It teaches players about facts of World War I and contains a detailed encyclopaedia that players can access throughout gameplay. While the game involves the player in the action of WWI, it does not involve the usual shoot and kill action, but rather involves more puzzle solving and storytelling.
For a closer look you can view the walkthrough from Giant Bomb below.
There have also been some other great links to resources circulated lately. You might like to check out:
Every day of WWI in a 6 minute time lapse film
37 days: Countdown to World War I
European Film Gateway 1914
Revealed: The first Australian to die in World War I
Interactive WWI timeline
History Channel - World War I videos
PBS - The Great War Lesson Plans
You might also like to look at this very comprehensive list of resources:
World War One: Some Centennial Links, Readings, Contexts
This is one of a series of posts on the Sustainability Cross Curriculum Project. Other posts in the series include:
Sustainability Cross Curriculum Project (CCP) - Intro
Sustainability Cross Curriculum Project - Research Techniques
Sustainability Cross Curriculum Project - Evaluation
Sustainability Cross Curriculum Project - Use augmented reality
Sustainability Cross Curriculum Project - Create a multi-level game
Sustainability Cross Curriculum Project - Create a sustainability video
Sustainability Cross Curriculum Project - Build a sustainability app
Sustainability Cross Curriculum Project - Design a sustainability city or town
Sustainability Cross Curriculum Project - Overview
For a more student-friendly layout visit the Sustainability Cross Curriculum Project website.
Review games about sustainability
Do an online search to find available games about sustainability or more specifically about your topic. If the games are free you might like to download them and try them out. If the games costs money you might choose to read reviews about the games rather than pay for them. Are these games enjoyable, informative or entertaining? What are the positive aspects of the games? Are there some aspects which could be improved?
Brainstorm game ideas
As a group, write down all of your ideas for creating your own game. Try to be original and innovative. Include all of your ideas, even the ones that might seem silly. Brainstorming allows you to get a whole range of ideas down on paper before narrowing your ideas down to the best and most practical options.
Plan and visually map the game
Once you have developed your idea you can start to plan how it will unfold on-screen. In the game scaffold, plan the levels or scenes of your game. Start to think about the rules and scoring for the game. Consider how you will integrate information about sustainability and/or your specific topic.
Build a prototype
Build a prototype of your game. You might choose to use a program such as Scratch, Monogame, Phaser or Flixel. Ensure that you game has information about sustainability integrated into it.
Play test the game
Ask your friends to play your game and give you feedback. Consider their points and think about what changes might be necessary for the game to make it better. Keep in mind that a game must be enjoyable to play to be successful.
Refine the game
Make revisions to your game based on the feedback you have received.
You might like to use the following resources to help you create your game.
Deputy Principal at a Sydney high school. Coordinating author of the new Geoactive book series.