Bill MacKenty

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Games, public schools & religion

Posted in Games in education on 15 - March 2006 at 09:19 PM (18 years ago). 185 views.

We are using the terrain editor in Age of Mythology.  This lets kids build virtually any geographic place in an easy-to-use way.  The terrain editor is clear, easy, and produces decent-looking output.  The kids can choose rivers, mountains, oceans, ice, etc…  The idea?  Explore geographic concepts through this terrain editor, and create real-world geographic maps using this tool.

As a precursor to creating their own terrain, we played a game of Age of Mythology (for a PDF version of a presentation I gave on Age of Mythology, click here). 

Today, a student came in and told me they were not allowed to play the game; after some brief conversation I realized the child’s parents had strong religious convictions, and did not want their child playing a game where other gods were worshipped.

From a strictly procedural point of view, this child can no longer play this particular game.  Once a parent says “no”, that’s it.  I’ll try to contact the parent to sort this out, but for now it’s no AOM for this child.  This is kind of sad, because he really loves this game, and it’s hard to watch your friends get excited about something and you can’t do it.

We fired up Sim City 4, which has an excellent terrain editor, and he made some good looking maps…

It’s an interesting issue; many games present their play in mythological context.  Games often include super-natural powers and flirt with the ideas of gods, creation, the universe, and the afterlife (FF X). I think that is part of good fantasy narrative.  Many books, films and television shows also dive into this area as well.

This is the first parent complaint I’ve heard about using games in the classroom. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised it would involve faith.  But still….

What do you think?