Eternal France: An Interactive Historical Simulation for College History Classes

Awarded Grant: $10,000

Principal Investigator:

Edward Bever, Old Westbury

This project prototyped a solitaire computer game for use in Western Civilization and European history courses. In it, students guide the development of France over historically significant periods of time: in one scenario 60 years (480-540 CE); in the other, 300 years (975-1275 CE). The game models the historical processes involved — from population growth through cultural change — with students making decisions reflective of the government’s expanding purpose and power. The game is designed to foster students’ historical understanding both implicitly, through the gameplay itself, and explicitly, through instructional exercises integrated into the course of play. The game was tested in two survey classes, and the results indicate that it has significant potential to motivate students and foster their understanding of history. However, the tests also suggest that the concept and execution require further refinement before it can be expanded to the full simulation of French history originally envisioned.

Reports and Resources:

  • Project overview
  • Overview demo and assessment data
  • Clovis Scenario – This is a short (60 year) scenario. It has a few historical glitches, like a tendency for the Eastern Roman Empire to take over Russia, but they are peripheral to the player’s experience, which centers on Western Europe. On the whole the scenario is well balanced and simulates the Frank’s historical situation reasonably well. However, it does not include all the player activities of the full game or the didactic exercises integrated with it, and it requires an immediate aggressive military effort for the player to be successful that limits its usefulness as a teaching tool.
  • High Medieval Scenario – This is a longer (300 year) scenario. It include the full range of player activities and didactic exercises intended for the final, full-length version of the game, and the slow-moving historical development of the French monarchy in the first century it covers creates a relatively forgiving initial situation that makes the scenario more suitable for use with a class. However, it has a significant number of historical glitches that impact not only peripheral phenomena, but also core player activities, so its employment in its current state as a course material is not recommended.
  • Project source code
  • Project outcomes report

Creative Commons License: