Historical video games are more than just fun.

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As we enter into the year 2010, video games are more popular than they ever have been. Because of this popularity, they are being looked at more closely by scholars and being studied in a wide range of areas. One of these areas involves video games and their educational value, particularly in the history classroom. I have done some research regarding this very topic and have come to this conclusion: Video games that explore historical storylines, such as Call of Duty which portrays World War II, allow students to experience their history lessons firsthand making them a valuable addition to classroom textbooks.

The following links and video support this idea that video games like Call of Duty portray history in a way that is similar to reenactment, allowing players to learn while enjoying themselves.

Call of Duty, a well-known and best-selling game of this generation, has always been known as an almost perfectly accurate portrayal of the events of World War II. The company that created it has also boasted of the game's historical accuracy, even saying in the beginning of the following trailer for Call of Duty 3 that they are "the #1 WWII franchise for the next generation." Treyarch, one of the creators of the game, has discussed their historical accuracy in this interview where he mentions that a lot of research went into the development of this series. Take a look at this brief trailer to get an idea of the game itself and also at the interview to see the historical accuracy of it as well.


This video clip does not specifically mention Call of Duty, but it does explore the uses of historical video games in the classroom. CBS News talked to a man named Daniel Sieberg about his use of a WWII game Making History several years ago. Even fathers at home are showing their children that there is more to their favorite game than meets the eye, as in this case of Hugh Spencer and his son's love of Call of Duty.

Watch CBS News Videos Online


Another article, Brothers in Arms: Hell's Highway: Good enough to be a training aid? took a slightly different look at games and their value. The writer chose to take a look at the game Brothers in Arms and see if he could potentially use it as a training aid for his soldiers. Similar to video game use in education, this article sheds light on yet another way that historical video games can be used to teach.

Moving back to Call of Duty, the following video shows how much history is packed into the game. The president of Treyarch, David Stohl, discusses the background of Call of Duty, and while he does not specifically discuss historical accuracy, he does describe in detail the storyline of the game, which coincides with that of history, and talk about how the game is very realistic. Players feel like they were really there.  


Here is a link to the above video if it does not load for some reason: David Stohl 

So, these videos and articles have shown that historical video games have value in the classroom, and Call of Duty could be classified as one of these games. All it takes is one brave teacher to show his or her students that there is historical value in these games and that they can learn from them. I think that already, students who play games like Call of Duty are entering classrooms with a broader knowledge of World War II than some of the students who haven't played. Whether it is used in the classroom or not, Call of Duty has something of value to teach its players.


Jeremy Barrick said:

I really enjoyed the educational aspect of your presentation. People may see that Call of Duty, on the surface, offers nothing other than shooting at others, but taking a closer look, it is very educational. I have thought of it as a history lesson before, but never to the extent that your presentation did.

Keith Campbell said:

I also really enjoyed you looking at COD as an educational tool. I agree with Jeremy, this game offers much more than just shooting at others. COD can be very educational for teaching us about War.

Beth Anne, I will definitely be showing this to my son as soon as I get the chance.

When I try to watch the third clip, I get an off-center, partially blocked button that takes me to a Gamespot TOS page. Apparently they don't like that you embedded their content. (You could just link to the page where you found the clip, rather than embedding it.)

I'll see whether I can find time to show Peter this page tonight.

Susan Carmichael said:

Beth Anne, thank you for a clear and concise presentation with great video clips. Even though I probably will never play Call of Duty, I can appreciate its educational value in the classroom. It would definitely take the right teacher to successfully present the game correctly. Since I chose the article on children online gaming for the class a couple of days ago, I entered a young birth date on the third video to see what would happen. To my surprise, it blocked me from viewing the video, and it would not let me view it after I hit the back button and closed the tab to try again. I know that children can still lie about their age, but it is a start.

BethAnneSwartzwelder Author Profile Page said:

Wow Susan that's really interesting. I'm glad that it blocked you and I agree that it's at least a good start.

Matt Takacs said:

If your mentioning Call of Duty, you can't forget about the original Medal of Honor as well. It came out in 1999, way ahead of CoD. It also had a military adviser there during production to help guide the process.

BethAnneSwartzwelder Author Profile Page said:

Thanks for the tip..I'll try to incorporate that into my research.

Simon0075 said:

COD: World At War, teaches us the importance of WWII in our history, and somehow, i learned new things while playing it.. and now, im a big fan of the game.. that way, developers and educationists can join together in building up an educational war or shooting or fighting game..


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