Author Archive

IPad and History Games

I’ve stayed pretty quiet about IPads. It’s clearly becoming increasingly important that people who are making a decision whether to go with an IPad or with a Windows/Mac option for games and learning in history or any field know this important detail. At this point, going with IPad effectively shuts one out of playing most (80-90% ?) of the commercial history games and all of the free Flash-based games (which are essentially 99% of web games)  (please correct me  if IPad now runs flash programs (not just the movies)).

I was doing a bit of foraging today for some friends on the IPad and came up with a few games that are excellent options for gaming in the history class and are all on IPad (they do require purchase). I wanted to share these for those who need IPad assistance. Please feel free to post more — there are thousands of apps to browse through, and a lot of dross around the gems.

One of the really promising areas is historical board games that have been ported to IPad.
Catan – I love board Catan with my kids and the computer version is not bad.
Agricola - 17th century peasant agriculture but fun, and applicable to any subsistence society. In some ways it is perfect for IPad: you don’t have to mess with all the fiddly bits of the board game, and there is a fair amount of management/upkeep that the Pad does for you.
Other games
Civilization Revolution - not nearly as good as Civ IV , much simpler model, but definitely workable
Sid Meier’s Pirates
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New article on Ed-Tech and Games by Mercedes Bell

Mercedes Bell, Reevaluating Ed-Tech Tools and Learning Games, at

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New articles on simulation games and history

Posted two recent articles of mine.

From November 2012 The History Teacher: Navigating the Problem Space: The Medium of Simulation Games in the Teaching of History

From spring 2012 Journal of Digital Humanities: Historical Simulations as Problem Spaces: Criticism and Classroom Use

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Navigating the Problem Space: The Medium of Simulation Games in the Teaching of History

February 9, 2013 Leave a comment

The History Teacher published my article in the November 2012 volume. It reflects my latest research and theory on simulation games as a medium, how they compare to more familiar narrative media, and what that means for the classroom. Give it a look and let me know what you think.
The History Teacher is available at most college libraries and through many online databases.

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Playful Learning Initiative on Edgamer

February 9, 2013 Leave a comment

Listen to Zack Gilbert, Gerry James, and I discuss the Playful Learning Initiative and find out how you can participate.
Edgamer 86 Jeremiah McCall and the Learning Games Network
Edgamer 80 Playful Learning Initiative with Jeremiah McCall
Both are also available on Itunes.

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Gaming the Past on Edgamer Podcast

I had the pleasure to talk about my work and GTP on the latest episode of Edgamer: EdGamer 61: Gaming the Past with Jeremiah McCall (It’s in a streaming format now but will be out on Itunes soon).
Make sure you check out Edgamer in general for the great work they are doing on video games in education.

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Review of Gaming the Past

A couple of formal reviews have come out for Gaming the Past since its publication last year.

The History Teacher, Volume 45, No. 3 (May 2012)

Teacher’s College Record (this one seems to be under restircted access:


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Journal of Digital Humanities Publishes a Special Section on Historical Gaming

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Materials from GLSES 2012

The slides and handout from my GLSES Keynote and workshop are up on the Presentation Notes and Handouts page.

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Historical Simulations as Problem Spaces: Some Guidelines for Criticism

This is a reprint of my post at PlayThePast from March 2012. This essay generated some insightful comments, for which see

What simulation games do best as interpretations is present the past in terms of problem spaces. This is a concept I have co-opted from games and learning theorists (most notably Henry Jenkins and Kurt Squire) for use in thinking about how we teach and learn about the past and use simulation games. I have an article in the works that addresses  some aspects of this, but I want to test these ideas out in the meantime. I am also inspired by the recent posts from Trevor and Rebecca and the enthusiastic feedback they generated and wanted to make some sense of that in relation to my work.  Any feedback would be most welcome.


The concept of problem space is a highly useful tool for studying historical simulations, teaching history, and using the former to help in the latter.  Simulation games are interpretations of the past designed as problem spaces. A problem space, at least as I currently define it, has the following features:
Read more…

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