Opportunities to practice historical thinking and reasoning in a made-for-school history-oriented videogame

Taylor M. Kessner, Lauren Mc Arthur Harris

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Building on the education community's longstanding interest in videogames for learning, and in response to continued calls for more engaging pedagogy in history classrooms, some developers have introduced history-oriented videogames designed specifically to fit within the institutional and resource constraints of traditional classrooms. Nevertheless, little empirical evidence exists concerning such made-for-school history-oriented videogames. Leveraging a view of game mechanics as a form of language, and guided by the assumption from discourse analysis that language operates as a tool offering affordances and constraints for doing work in the world, we conducted a content analysis to identify opportunities to practice historical thinking and reasoning in the made-for-school history-oriented videogame Mission US. We found several in-game moments that invited the use of disciplinary skills, though few that required them. Confirming previous research on videogames for learning, our findings suggest the game may be more appropriately leveraged not on its own but as one part of a broader teaching and learning ecology. We highlight two mechanics, those pertaining to in-game, map-based navigation, and in-game, historically relevant trading, as holding promise for the design of future made-for-school history-oriented videogames. We suggest these findings are valuable to teachers, teacher educators, developers, and researchers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number100545
JournalInternational Journal of Child-Computer Interaction
StatePublished - Dec 2022


  • Elementary education
  • Games
  • History education
  • Secondary education
  • Social studies education

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Human-Computer Interaction


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