The fact is that many of today’s young people spend a substantial amount of time playing entertainment games. Teachers and parents often resist what they regard as wasted time as they observe children playing entertainment games. We take the opposite view. We recognize the power of gaming and embrace its application to the formal education setting.
We suggest to merge the experience of entertainment and education. Our digital school games also cross the line between academic history and historical fiction: Set in the past they will accurately present social conditions and other aspects of the periods, but they will also include characters and situations that may not have actually existed. Although some academicians have bemoaned the lack of authenticity, historical fiction has a long tradition extending from the ancient world to today. It is important to note that for each of our games the teachers would receive information about fictional aspects of the game and would be required to make them clear before they invite the students to play.
The proposed digital history games can open the door to revitalizing the teaching and learning of Luxembourg history in our secondary schools. It replaces the existing static model of didactic pedagogy, which can be described as the delivery of historical data and stories by the expert teacher to the student. In this model the teacher expects the student to retain this information and present it in a program of standardized testing. Our project captures the power of digital gaming technology to replace the existing didactic pedagogy with a new dynamic, one in which the student takes charge of his or her own learning. Learning experienced in this way becomes a journey of discovery. The teacher is no longer the solo expert. The classroom is transformed into an interactive space in which the teacher both moderates and becomes a participant as the students work together to play the game.
Our prototype digital game “Luxembourg 1665, The Quest for the Ring” can serve as a template that can accept a variety of new content. We are opening the door for teachers and students to explore a world of new ideas and questions.
The application of serious games in the school setting could be a foundational principle for advancing the knowledge society in which learning is not a commodity, but a process of constant research and advancement.