Company: Muzzy Lane; www.muzzylane.com
System Requirements: Windows 2000/XP; Pentium 4 processor; 2 GB hard-disk space; 512 MB RAM; 64 MB video card
Price/Grade: E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org; 9-12
Pros: Informative; challenges students to think critically; multiplayer mode encourages collaboration, analysis
Cons: Graphics outdated; interface stiff and not intuitive; no teacher's guide
Muzzy Lane's Making History: The Calm and the Storm integrates history and gameplay into an entertaining and educational package, the idea being that a generation of students raised on video games might respond more personally to history lessons if they're presented in a fun and interactive format. The Windows game provides a deep look at European history from the early 1930s to the beginnings of the Cold War.
Students can relive WWII-era Europe with Making History, a multiplayer game that peppers fun gameplay with solid historical information.
In the game, students lead a European nation and attempt to overcome the economic, military, and socio-political issues of the day. Players can follow or buck the historical trends of the time, make or break alliances, and attempt to maintain domestic stability. For instance, a student controlling prewar France has to placate an antiwar populace plagued by economic woes while keeping an eye on Germany's rearmament. Will more domestic spending keep the masses happy and maintain the delicate balance between the various left-wing forces in the government? Or will doing so weaken the military, thus encouraging a bellicose Germany? The game can be played in Single Player mode; however, its real strength is Multiplayer mode, which encourages students to answer these questions in a collaborative environment marked by debate and discussion.
Although not a visually thrilling game to play—the graphics are static and a bit outdated, and the interface is not particularly engaging-—Making History's Multiplayer mode and wealth of information make it an excellent resource for helping students understand why events unfolded as they did—or didn't.
Mark Smith is managing editor of Technology & Learning magazine.