Understand history is always vital. It tells people where they were from, where they are standing, and towards which direction they are perhaps heading. As a civilized human being, one’s knowledge of history helps him better understand where he stands in the great adventure of this civilization and what his ancestors had gone through to get him there. For a professional, the knowledge of history in his particular field gives him a comprehensive understanding of its landscape: what has been achieved, what resources are currently available, and what is still missing to complete the puzzle.
However, inside the classroom of high school or even college, history class is somewhat a synonym of “nap time”. To most students, history is merely a combination of dates, locations, names and events, each of which being stored in very distant parts of the brain, which can, in their opinion, be used otherwise to store “cooler” information. The names inside history classroom are usually symbolic figures, whose historical contribution is taught in class as simple facts without much personality illustration, and their personal struggles when making historically course-altering decisions are hardly accessible to students. Unable to connect with the characters, no wonder the students are finding it hard to take an interest in history lessons.
Furthermore, US history courses are often taught in an Americentric way, which may subconsciously encourage students to observe future world events in a biased attitude and resist the efforts of being global or trying to look at an issue from other people’s perspectives.
In my thesis project, I intend to closely examine an engaging method - narrative games - and its possibility on bringing efficiency, efficacy as well as fun into history learning. With the help of modern multi-media technology, such games are able to simulate historical events with magnificent graphic details. More importantly, a large number of such games are designed to be played in a way that players were put into the place of different historical characters, each of which goes through the same historical event from his/her own perspective. Through such games, players get a better understanding of complicated relationships between the characters, the entangling feelings they have towards each other, and the rational as well as emotional reasons that driven them to make historical decisions.