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Historian uses gaming as an educational tool

An academic historian, Dr. Darren R. Reid, developed a Web app in order “to provide history enthusiasts of all ages with a chance to explore the past in new way.” The app is a tool to investigate the controversial court-martial of the American frontier legend, Daniel Boone. Boone is most famous for his exploration and settlement of Kentucky. He was captured by the Shawnee, an American Indian tribe, which later resulted in Boone being charged for treason.


Shawnee warriors succeeded in capturing Boone in 1778, but he was later adopted into the tribe. This led to Boone being charged for treason, a fact that is not well known. “Although many people know of Daniel Boone, very few realise that he once faced a court-martial for treason,” Reid explains. This is a complicated episode in Boone’s life and many of Daniel’s compatriots appeared to believe that he had betrayed them to the Shawnee and the British. The purpose of this app is to give people interested in history a chance to explore this period, to gather evidence, to understand why some stood by the pioneer and others turned against him”, says Dr Reid.

1778: Daniel Boone on Trial

1778: Daniel Boone on Trial is a free web app that allows players to explore the circumstances surrounding the little known court-martial of a frontier legend.  Based upon actual historic events and documents, 1778 explores the aftermath of Boone’s capture by the Shawnee. On trial for treason, Boone’s reputation suffered greatly during this period as his fellow pioneers attempted to sort fact from fiction, hearsay from truth. By exploring a pre-rendered 3D world, players will be able to talk with historic characters involved in the trial in order to form their own conclusions about the events of that time.  

The app features a recreation of the town Boone founded in which players have to find and question characters ranging from Boone’s daughter, Jemima, to Richard Henderson, a land magnate who helped to drive American settlement in the early west. By exploring the environment, interacting with historic figures, and discovering hidden historic documents, players of 1778 will have the chance to explore this fascinating episode in America’s frontier history in a uniquely new way.

The app has been made available freely on Dr Reid’s website here. It can be played instantly in a web browser.

Source: Games Press

Using gaming as a tool to educate has the potential to revolutionise the education sector. It is an aspect that I believe educators of all fields should seriously consider exploring. Be it science, math, history or biology, every subject could incorporate aspects of play and cognitive function to promote learning. There are already a few fascinating games available that explores this. See “Play with Einstein in open relativity” as an example of a game development tool to help developers and educators experiment with the effects of special relativity.

Do you think gaming can be used as a tool in education?


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