My 14 year old nephew called the other night because he had a project due on the Vietnam War and wondered if I had any cool stories. (wtf) Allow me to explain. He had already quizzed his father, my OLDER brother, for interesting stories about hippies and protests and in-your-face photojournalism and had come up empty, as my OLDER brother was a small child in the ’70s.
(Ok, apparently, my nephew needs some tutoring in math.)
The best I could offer was a list of CDs with rocking Vietnam-era music, most of which he knew about already from … (wait for it, wait for it) … the Battlefield Vietnam soundtrack. Go figure. Fourteen year old kid knows all this crap about Vietnam from a game.
He knew about the Viet Cong, the popular weapons of the time, the terrain (jungle warfare — it sucks, man!), the fall of Saigon, even the Tet Offensive, which he googled on his own because he was curious. (Here’s a wiki link, noob, because I know you know almost nothing about it. heh, ok, I knew almost nothing about it.)
Was kind of spooky because he went on for about an hour about all this detailed Vietnam military history … especially the weaponry: flamethrowers, AK-47s, the M16s, the Soviet MiGs. You’re not going to win BFV with a pistol for crissakes!
The educational genre of gaming, especially for older kids and adults, is a failure for this reason alone: they’re so damn obvious about it. Games that are entertaining first, with some sneaky educational shit thrown in, are wildly successful at entertaining AND teaching. That’s not really news, but many involved in education forget that (boring history teachers, I’m glaring in your direction here.)
I swear, a well-designed shooter could completely revise world history and I’d run around telling people that Marxism could work if only we’d come together, right now, over me.
I wasn’t much help with his project, obviously, other than sending some 60s tunes to use in his presentation. (Suck on it, RIAA.)
Some day though, if he’s assigned a project about fantasy realms, multi-group dragon raid stategies or which of the winky-dink swords are best for slicing and dicing happy elves, I’ll be all over that.