The people over at the MIT Education Arcade have spent the last few years making some very cool toys for teachers. I have finally got around to playing with some their stuff this morning.

Installed a game called Neverwinter Nights on a couple of laptops, downloaded / installed the Revolution mod from the Education Arcade site and played a networked game that recreates the period just prior to the American Revolution.

Confused? Okay . . . so was I. Really needed my 14-year old son to help and wouldn’t ya know it . . . he was in school. So had to noodle it out myself. But it was worth it.

The Arcade people have created a very useful tool to help American History students understand the attitudes, social classes and political views of 1770s Williamsburg, Virginia. It seems like a sim that would work from 5th grade on up.

Just so you know . . . a “mod” is a modification of a commercial off-the-shelf game such as Neverwinter Nights. Most games provide special programming tools built into the game that encourages users to create their own version of that game.

So basically the Arcade people used the Neverwinter Nights tools to recreate a colonial village of the 1700s complete with seven specific characters that allow multi-player game play. The simulation requires that you purchase enough copies of Neverwinter Nights as needed to play the different characters. You can find cheap copies online for as little two or three dollars.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_cqQIS23kwg]

Just one more way that you as a history teacher can begin to speak the language of the Digital Native. You can find other ideas and resources for using games at my del.icio.us Games page or the Social Studies Central video games page.

What games are YOU playing this week?