Author Topic: Gamified Lesson Plan: The Cold War  (Read 2474 times)

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Offline Dozus

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Gamified Lesson Plan: The Cold War
« on: March 15, 2016, 01:22:12 PM »
So this is part setting forge, but I'd love input on it, too.

I teach World History to high school freshmen and an idea I've really taken to in the last year is gamification. Essentially, gamification is turning non-game tasks into a game using mechanics and role-play. It's one of those buzzwords you see in business and education articles, but I think it could work well for my class, and it gives me a chance to GM a bit for my students.

Last year a colleague and I did a beta version of a game to teach the Cold War. It was pretty primitive: using Google Docs, students created a spy character who worked for either the KGB or the CIA. They completed a number of "missions" (lessons) and tracked their progress using an interactive Google Sheet. They earned XP for completing tasks, which opened up higher level missions, with a culminating interactive project for their assessment. Despite having pretty few mechanics - all you really had to do was complete the missions roughly in order with at least enough completion to move up in level - the kids seemed to love it. They really didn't refer to their character outside of the initial creation, and missions for the KGB and the CIA were essentially the same.

Having gotten back from a conference a couple weeks ago, I want to step up my game on it. This time, I plan to have some video mission briefings with an NPC intelligence commander (thus far creatively named "the Director" and "the Chairman"), potentially some more competition between the two sides (last year they chose who they worked for, this year I'll assign them US or Soviet allegiance for balance), and a culminating breakout activity (checkout Breakout EDU for examples, it's basically an escape room class activity).

I'm working on turning my lesson objectives into missions, but I'd like advice on the setting, plot, script, etc. I want to keep things pretty simple, since my turnaround time for this is about a month (planning to start the Cold War unit April 15 or 18). I only have three characters so far:
  • The Director - Head of the CIA. Will provide an introductory briefing to American spy students, and mission briefing for the final breakout. Your typical straight-laced M type character. Will wear a plain black suit in the videos, seated at a desk, maybe a wood paneled office?
  • The Chairman - Head of the KGB. Same essential functions as the Director, but for Soviet spy students. A little more boisterous in personality, perhaps. Will wear my best imitation of a Soviet military uniform (I've got a black overcoat with shoulder straps and a fur hat). Similar office setup, though I'm not sure how to distinguish it besides a mini USSR flag and some Cold War era Russian maps on the wall.
  • The Rogue Agent - The ultimate antagonist for both sides. Will be periodically name-dropped in missions. A Soviet double agent positioned in the CIA, he (or she) will ultimate steal the launch codes for both the US and the USSR with plans to end the Cold War by blowing up the world. The breakout culminating mission will require both agencies to work together to find the missing codes and track down the Rogue Agent's location. This character would only really appear in photos, maybe being arrested in a successful breakout video.

Here's the introduction to the game I have so far. Bracketed text is variable depending on which side the player is on:
The war is finally over.
After years of fighting, the Allies have defeated the Axis Powers. Mussolini and Hitler are dead, Japan is under occupation, and thousands of troops are returning to their homelands.
But even now, a new war seems to have begun.
Even as the Axis powers collapse, the United States and the Soviet Union have begun to divide the world between themselves, building alliances and creating buffer states. The ideological divide between capitalist democracy and Marxist socialism threatens to break the new-found peace.
But the new threat of nuclear conflict means this will be a different war. A war not be fought in trenches but in the shadows. A war of espionage, proxy conflicts, and sabotage.
A Cold War.
* * *
You are at the headquarters of the [Central Intelligence Agency in Langley, Virginia] [Committee for State Security in Moscow]. After multiple interviews and security clearances, the [CIA] [KGB] is finally approving your recruitment.
It’s been a long road here. Perhaps you are a veteran soldier of World War II with valuable field experience, or a scientific researcher with crucial technological skill, or even a defector from an enemy state. You may be from the [United States, or a citizen from an allied country: Great Britain, France, West Germany] [USSR, or a citizen from an allied country: Poland, Czechoslovakia, East Germany]. Whatever the case, you think your best chance for a future is here as a secret agent, a spy for the [United States] [Soviet Union]. And apparently, your recruiters believe the same.
As you check into the reception area, the woman behind the desk hands you a clipboard with a stack of papers on it. “Please fill these out in triplicate,” she orders, “and with complete accuracy. The [Director] [Chairman] will see you shortly.”

Okay. So, thoughts? Ideas? I'm all ears.
Dozus the Windward
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