Mission U.S. is an interactive game about 19th century slavery in the United States. The goal of the game is to educate students on the realities of slavery. There are no win conditions. It’s just one interactive chapter after another to teach about the horrific lives almost half the population endured in that period of history. It’s intended to give the player an empathetic experience with slaves.
This game is a noble and bold . It has at least rekindled a conversation about a critical, defining moment in American History that too few gamers have a clue about, apparently. Eye opening, for sure, in what the game has both revealed in it’s content and it’s audience. It may be we need more games like this if we’re that low on education/appreciation of the past.
The subject matter it deals with is controversial. It’s a bold step indeed for education.
In part 2 of the game, the player is a slave. The player must find a way to escape slavery and establish a free life. What the game reveals through the player’s choices and outcomes is that this was an impossibility for blacks. During the escape chapter success isn’t guaranteed and is difficult to achieve. When you achieve it the first time, it’s pretty much luck. But as you continue to play through the game, it (likely unintentionally) teaches the player what it takes to become seen as a “good” black or as “deserving” freedom. If you’re too compliant, too willing to do what you’re told, it reveals that these were survival tactics–but that won’t stop the slave masters for patting you on the back for being a “good” slave. The humiliation, stress, and just overall difficulty of maintaining such an existence is experienced poignantly by the player. The lessons carry a weight books and classrooms usually don’t when teaching about this episode of American history.
It’s free and certainly a worthwhile experience. It’s difficult to describe and review like I do other games, but that just shows how powerful the game is. It has to be seen to be understood.
I have seen very, very few reviews on this game. I do wonder why. No doubt it evokes speechlessness. Yet perhaps we should remind ourselves ever so often of the blood that was shed by blacks so that this country could continue to exist.
… On Ignorance
There’s a preponderance of ignorance amongst the gaming population. I speak specifically to the American gaming population. It’s unacceptable.
It’s a wild guess, but the majority of the replies are no doubt white or at least not black. No one appears to have a clue what happened after the Civil War. Some believe former slaves were given immediate rights. Others propose things were better for slaves, despite knowing they still didn’t have any rights (???). I no understandy.
I can’t be sure if this is just the ignorance of Kotaku readers, disinterested students of history, uneducated students of American History, or naive students of history. It can’t be known. All that can be said in 2012 is there’s an unacceptable amount of ignorance of American history amongst Americans, specifically during the Reconstruction period after the Civil War. It would be akin to Germans having little knowledge of the Holocaust. It’s unacceptable; unacceptable because the Civil War was the first bloodsworn test of whether this nation would stand or crumble. Unacceptable because an entire, extraordinarily large portion of the population were identified as NOT human and treated the same way we treat the creatures at the zoo ..but worse. Unacceptable because it’s been over 200 years and this ignorant portion of the population can’t manage to pick up a book in the age of Kindle.
Facts don’t lie; they are facts *because* they’re undeniable. But naivety goes a long, long way when you don’t want to see/don’t want to know/can’t possibly *believe* that something god awful took place in this country. Something that has continued, despite the efforts of the best of us, to define who we are.
I don’t want to chastise. I want to say that this is unacceptable to be as ignorant as the commenters at Kotaku appear to be. It’s just unacceptable. In the age of super sonic air travel, space colonization, and wikipedia it’s unacceptable for one not to know how things went down in the land they call home. And it’s not just any piece of time and history that’s being referenced; it’s as significant as the Great Pyramids of Egypt, the Renaissance of Europe, Sun Tzu in China. Everyone’s heard of that stuff right? Why do so many Americans not know of the labors of slaves as they do the labors of Hercules? How can one remain ignorant to 200 years ago while managing to memorize 1000 years ago?
Willful blindness. Willful ignorance. Oh, Hercules was a grand, fantastic story of course we can remember what he went through to be a GOD. It’s too much to ask that we remember what half the population of the United States went through TO BE HUMAN.
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