A US teacher is using ‘Civilization’ to teach history

How to engage students and educate people

In a recent interview, a US history teacher explains how he uses Civilization and Humankind in the classroom.

Ryan Botting recently spoke to PCGamesN about using video games as part of his student’s syllabus. “I use Civilization and Humankind in my classroom similar to how a teacher might use a normal activity in the classroom: to have students engage in the material we go over in the class and get them excited about learning.”

Video games are used to engage students and supplement their learning, but more traditional projects and assignments come from the understanding they gain. “In the normal classroom, we go over the primary theme of each era. Then, in the gaming portion, they play a giant multiplayer game where they are given objectives of things their civilisation (or precursor civilisation) actually did in history. When students complete their objectives we go over them in class, using the real-life events as a case study to examine the primary theme of the era.”


Botting offers both a traditional world history class and one augmented by games such as Civilization. “What I’ve found is that this class attracts high-risk kids. The class generally attracts kids that hate school and are looking for an easy grade, but what I find is these kids work harder and care more than their traditional-learning counterparts. Their test scores end up being pretty similar to high-achieving students taking the traditional class, even though they take the same tests.”

Botting also said that he doesn’t use Paradox Interactive’s grand strategy games because he would have to spend more time explaining the mechanics and could lose focus on the world history he teaches. “Humankind is interesting because it starts players as a hunter-gatherer tribe that has not yet discovered agriculture but is harder to explain than Civilisation.

In other news, Silent Hill’s Keiichiro Toyama has discussed his opinions on remaking classic games.

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