Image source: https://forums.civfanatics.com/media/categories/civ4-screenshots.3/
Leisure videogame with educational potential
Name of the videogame/app
Name of the producer
How to find it
To be Purchased
Main technical requirements
Native Virtual Reality Support
12-17 years, 18+ years
Degree of required tutoring
Autonomous use after teacher introduction/explanation
Civilization IV is a PC strategy game in which players can lead their nation from the dawn of mankind through the space age and become the greatest leader the world. The game setting is a 3D world with detailed environments that enhances the game experience.
The game offers numerous features. Among others, it includes the feature of Religion offering seven real world religions: Buddhism, Christianity, Judaism, Confucianism, Taoism, Islam, and Hinduism. Religions can impact the game at city level influencing the citizens’ happiness as well as in diplomacy level considering that civilizations with the same religions can get along better.
Moreover, civilizations have Leaders with distinct personality. For example, in case of France players can choose between Louis XIV or Napoleon. Playing as Louis XIV offers free culture while playing as Napoleon offers military bonus. There are a total of 18 civilizations and 26 leaders in the game.
The game also includes the Great People system with five categories: Great Artist, Great Merchant, Great Prophet, Great Engineer and Great Scientist. Each great people type offers three to four benefits such as culture boost, academy construction, free tech, wonder construction and trade mission. Players can use a group of Great People to start a golden age. The Great People are automatically generated by cities depending on the structures in the city.
There is also a Team Play option which allows players to form alliances with each other in multiplayer games. Players on the same team can pool their accomplishments together, join forces in combat and share all information, e.g. benefits of wonders, research, etc.
Playing the game students can experience an alternative approach of history that highlights how multiple factors (military, economic, social, religious, scientific) go into any historical event or decision and influence the results. Therefore, the game can fit in with classes about world history and/or social studies. However, in order to achieve transfer of game knowledge back to class content and make students connect gameplay experiences to the domain of world history, teachers should work through the game experience later with the students.
The game includes some graphic violence in a fantasy environment.
Learning Object / Suggested activities with students
Teachers are strongly recommended to have personal experience of the game (play it for about 8-10 hours) before using it in the classroom. This game takes a lot of time to play, therefore it is recommended to be used during individual time outside of class, but it should be connected to the class content through specifically designed activities. For example teachers could design lessons to help students make connections between Civilization IV and many topics, such as world history, geography, economics, scientific and civic progress and war. In order to enhance reflection on these topics, after each session, students should be asked to participate in discussions about what happened during the game session and record reflections in a shared Google doc.
Skills and competences acquired
The game can help students think critically about history as a tool rather than a set of facts. Additionally, students can develop conceptual understandings across politics and geography.
Students can also practice their leadership skills and creativity, as well as collaboration and communication with peers in case of the Team play option.
As a final project to assess the knowledge and skills, students could be assigned to write a persuasive research essay on topics covered during the class and gameplay (using primary and secondary sources in addition to game experiences).
Critical thinking, Creativity, Team working, Leadership