Historia is a civilization-simulation game that incorporates a year-long world cultures curriculum aligned to Texas state standards. The game is played in class using worksheets, research materials — reference books and a few desktop computers — and an interactive presentation, delivered by Brennan. During the game, students cluster together in teams to form civilizations, which they must govern skillfully as they progress through world history, meeting and measuring themselves against all the peoples that existed between 2000 BCE and 2000 CE.
There is a long tradition of simulation games in social studies. One success in the early days of personal computing was The Oregon Trail, a game where players took on roles as pioneers to face first-hand the hardships of westward expansion. The game debuted in a history class in Minnesota in 1971, with students waiting up to a half hour just to take a turn. Since then, digital simulations have come a long way in terms of speed and sophistication. But some teachers are discovering that, when it comes to learning, and especially in resource-strapped school districts, a game on paper can be as persuasive as anything on screen.