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Video Games and Civil Rights Learning (Part 2)

If you read our last blog on video games and civil rights learning, you’ll know that video games can immerse players in a variety of different experiences outside of their own, fostering empathy and understanding

Whether through historical narratives that shed light on past injustices or contemporary stories that address ongoing struggles, this list of civil rights learning games allows players to engage actively with issues of equality and justice. Through educational games, players can not only broaden their perspectives but also empower themselves to become advocates for positive change in their communities and beyond! Here’s a list of high-quality games that explore civil rights around the world. 

via Giphy

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Time Zone X: Civil Rights

via BrainPOP

Time Zone X: Civil Rights is a game from BrainPOP designed to test kids’ knowledge of the history of the civil rights movement in the US. It’s a timeline skills game where players apply their understanding and context clues to arrange historical events accurately. The game includes key events from Martin Luther King Jr.’s life, including his infamous “I Have a Dream” speech. Players can win in-game prizes while learning more about the civil rights movement and the life of prominent activists such as Martin Luther King Jr.

1979 Revolution: Black Friday

Based on real historical events and eyewitness stories, 1979 Revolution: Black Friday is a video game about the Iranian Revolution. The narrative unfolds through a branching cinematic story told via motion-captured animation and voice performances, immersing players in the rarely-seen world of Tehran in the 1970s.

Players explore a city in turmoil under martial law, including covert headquarters, rioting protests, and bustling streets. A unique element of gameplay involves photography, allowing players to take photos of the period-accurate in-game world and compare them to original archival photos by photojournalists.

The game features urban triage, interactive action scenes, and photo processing. Players can also discover and unlock over 80+ unique stories that provide context and depth to the Iranian Revolution, including primary sources like archival videos, home movies, graffiti, and photographs.

1979 Revolution: Black Friday draws from true first-hand testimonies of freedom fighters, witnesses, and those imprisoned in Iran’s Evin Prison. It has received recognition and awards, such as the Grand Jury Prize at IndieCade ’16 and nominations for Game of the Year by TIGA and BEST OF E3 by IGN, highlighting its impact and importance in telling this historical story.

Please note that this game deals with disturbing and upsetting subject matter and player discretion is advised. 

Right Runner

Right Runner is a mobile app game launched by UNICEF to commemorate World Children’s Day and the 30th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. This innovative game aims to educate young people about their rights in a fun and interactive way.

The game features an endless-runner format with five levels, each focusing on a different right detailed in the Convention, including the right to play, learn, live in a clean and safe environment, live free from violence, and be heard. Players embark on a journey through various challenges, such as skateboarding through obstacle-filled old towns, parkouring to school, navigating extreme flooding, and more, ultimately reaching the top of a mountain in the final level, which emphasizes the player’s own voice. To claim and defend their rights, players must overcome obstacles and engage with other characters in the game. The gameplay is set in countries across Latin America and the Caribbean.

The game was developed in collaboration with UNICEF, Nexus Studios, and young people from the region. It incorporates a visual language that resonates with players and effectively brings the Convention on the Rights of the Child to life. 

Path Out

Path Out is an autobiographical adventure game that immerses players in the harrowing journey of Abdullah Karam, a young Syrian artist who fled the civil war in 2014. Through this game, players gain a firsthand understanding of Abdullah’s real-life escape experience, enriched by his commentary provided in Youtube-style videos integrated into the game.

This narrative-driven game offers a unique blend of storytelling and interactive gameplay. Players step into Abdullah’s shoes and relive his escape from war-torn Syria, starting with his life before the war, his family’s decision to leave, and the dangerous journey from Hama to the Turkish border, passing through the perilous Aleppo province.

Path Out sets itself apart with its meticulously researched pixel art inspired by Syrian culture and a focus on non-combat gameplay. The narrative incorporates quests and challenges based on actual events, including encounters with soldiers, and rebels, and navigating deadly minefields. Abdullah’s personal commentary adds another layer of depth to the experience, making players feel more connected to his story and the realities he faced during his escape.

Please note that this game deals with disturbing and upsetting subject matter and player discretion is advised. 

No Turning Back

Set in the early 1960s during the era of de jure segregation and voter intimidation in the American South, No Turning Back is a historical game where players assume the role of Verna Baker, a fictional teenager from the Mississippi Delta who navigates daily life under the racial restrictions and inequalities of the Jim Crow laws. This includes limited access to education, healthcare, and voting rights.

The game unfolds in the city of Greenwood and the surrounding Delta counties. It showcases why and how young people engaged in mass protests against Jim Crow, contributing to the broader national Black freedom struggle. Amid constant threats of economic retaliation and violence for challenging the racial status quo, players interact with characters representing different perspectives on how to navigate Jim Crow, make strategic choices, and assert their rights.

The game’s climax occurs in February 1963, during a state-orchestrated food shortage, as increasing numbers of ordinary Black citizens defy escalating reprisals by attempting to register to vote at the courthouse in Greenwood. The choices made by players shape Verna’s understanding, experiences, and actions within the context of the 1960s Civil Rights Movement.

While the game is based on a wealth of primary materials, including oral histories, interviews, and memoirs from Mississippians, players’ decisions ultimately determine how Verna engages with and contributes to the Civil Rights Movement of the era.

From bolstering students’ knowledge of the US civil rights movement to providing a never-before-seen look into the Iranian Revolution, these games offer a diverse range of experiences about human rights. These games not only broaden player’s perspectives but also inspire them to become advocates for change in their own communities. Explore these titles to embark on an immersive journey of learning, empathy, and activism. 

Interested in using games to make the world a better place for everyone? We’re glad you’re here! We’re an educational game development studio with 18 years of industry experience, and we’re your go-to partner for creating a meaningful game. Contact us to learn more!

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