Sid Myer's "Civilization" as an Educational Tool

[Kurt D.] Squire has studied middle school kids who played Civ3. He found that some students who were able to spend the hours needed to learn the game began to identify “rules” by which history progressed; rules that apply to such issues as resource allocation, the tradeoff between aggressive military expansion and diplomacy, and technological exchange among societies. Weir, who had college juniors and seniors playing every day for three weeks in a summer course, says some of the game scenarios helped her discuss current events. “I emphasized things like the fact that environmental problems don’t respect national borders,” she says.


Some professors, rather than using an approach like Weir’s to teach historical concepts directly, are finding Civ3 useful in other ways. Andrew McMichael, an assistant professor of history at Western Kentucky University thinks that Civ3’s historical inaccuracies can be learning tools, and uses the game to teach freshmen. He pointed out that a player who chooses to control America would never see black slaves working in the fields during the antebellum period. “You can’t [put that in the game] and hope to make money,” McMichael says. He uses such concessions to modern sensibilities to discuss how history is “packaged and sold to the public.” McMichael also notes the four ways to win Civ3: send a spacecraft to Alpha Centauri; be elected secretary general of the United Nations by other countries; dominate culturally; or kick everybody’s tail in combat. “It’s nearly impossible to win diplomatically,” McMichael says. “You’re more inclined toward conquest and utter destruction.


Patricia Seed, a history professor at the University of California at Irvine, has used several video games, including Civilization games. Seed says that “the narrative of history is embedded in the game,” and says that Civilization has made her “World History Through Games” course more attractive for science and engineering students. Seed previously taught the course at Rice University, and says she encountered some opposition from colleagues who felt knowledge needs to be painfully acquired, but she says teaching the course has been her “most rewarding experience teaching. There are people who get excited about a topic in history who’ve never been excited about history before.”


Perspectives from a selection of Professors who use the game to teach history, be it the trade-offs in growth, the way modern culture colors the portrayal of history in the game, and the way the game allows for speculation about alternative histories.

Folksonomies: history education gamification

/science/social science/history (0.546808)
/society/unrest and war (0.428798)
/science/ecology/pollution (0.399304)

Educational Tool Perspectives (0.984552 (positive:0.300340)), modern culture colors (0.984018 (positive:0.517185)), middle school kids (0.982424 (neutral:0.000000)), aggressive military expansion (0.952461 (negative:-0.337639)), respect national borders (0.943922 (positive:0.293309)), Western Kentucky University (0.938450 (neutral:0.000000)), rewarding experience teaching (0.920582 (positive:0.608807)), Civ3 (0.908347 (positive:0.461084)), Andrew McMichael (0.891729 (neutral:0.000000)), history (0.880618 (positive:0.415142)), game (0.868816 (positive:0.375788)), Sid Myer (0.829870 (positive:0.295167)), game scenarios (0.811158 (neutral:0.000000)), Kurt D. (0.806448 (positive:0.238743)), alternative histories (0.803440 (neutral:0.000000)), summer course (0.795725 (neutral:0.000000)), history professor (0.795634 (neutral:0.000000)), resource allocation (0.795292 (negative:-0.214589)), World History (0.794924 (neutral:0.000000)), historical inaccuracies (0.792069 (neutral:0.000000)), antebellum period (0.792031 (negative:-0.305449)), current events (0.791890 (neutral:0.000000)), technological exchange (0.790335 (neutral:0.000000)), environmental problems (0.790309 (positive:0.293309)), college juniors (0.789806 (neutral:0.000000)), utter destruction (0.786334 (negative:-0.547918)), black slaves (0.785255 (negative:-0.305449)), Civilization games (0.784447 (neutral:0.000000)), modern sensibilities (0.784398 (neutral:0.000000)), Alpha Centauri (0.784168 (neutral:0.000000))

Andrew McMichael:Person (0.910617 (negative:-0.305449)), Patricia Seed:Person (0.594836 (negative:-0.439302)), Weir:Person (0.553964 (positive:0.314141)), Sid Myer:Person (0.446788 (positive:0.295167)), assistant professor of history:JobTitle (0.424661 (neutral:0.000000)), Kurt D.] Squire:Person (0.402067 (positive:0.238743)), World History:FieldTerminology (0.385518 (neutral:0.000000)), Educational Tool Perspectives:JobTitle (0.372870 (positive:0.300340)), Western Kentucky University:Organization (0.346949 (neutral:0.000000)), Rice University:Organization (0.333460 (neutral:0.000000)), environmental problems:FieldTerminology (0.321577 (positive:0.293309)), Alpha Centauri:Company (0.313535 (neutral:0.000000)), Irvine:City (0.309375 (neutral:0.000000)), United Nations:Organization (0.303206 (neutral:0.000000)), University of California:Organization (0.302083 (neutral:0.000000)), America:Continent (0.298533 (negative:-0.305449)), secretary general:FieldTerminology (0.284463 (neutral:0.000000)), professor:JobTitle (0.283458 (neutral:0.000000)), three weeks:Quantity (0.283458 (neutral:0.000000))

Professor (0.963335): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri (0.924815): website | dbpedia | freebase | opencyc | yago
Culture (0.859366): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Education (0.822265): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Sid Meier (0.812985): dbpedia | freebase | yago
Firaxis Games (0.657116): website | dbpedia | freebase | yago
Civilization IV (0.654769): website | dbpedia | freebase | yago
Civilization III (0.635626): website | dbpedia | freebase | yago

 Not Just Child's Play
Periodicals>Journal Article:  Epstein, David (November 28, 2005), Not Just Child's Play, Inside Higher Ed, Retrieved on 2013-11-22
  • Source Material []
  • Folksonomies: education games civilization gamification


    09 JUL 2013

     Educational Projects for Waygate

    A collection of projects and exercises that will eventually go into the Waygate education application that uses gamification to encourage children to learn.
    13 MAR 2014


    Memes about getting kids as engaged with academic studies as the are with video games.