Earlier this week the Providence Journal printed a story about a board game
by Multi-Man Publishing based on King Phillip's War, which has angered some
Native Americans in Rhode Island.
Unfortunately the criticism of the game appears to spring forth from a basic
misunderstanding of the word "game." Games are for kids, games are for
entertainment, games are for fun; and there's nothing fun about killing
Indians. Of course, this is a rather narrow view on what games are used
for, and the purpose of gaming within the education and research community.
The game's designer, John Poniske, teaches social studies at a Maryland
middle school, states that he created the game after reading an article
about King Philip in the magazine Military History. "I immediately saw the
gaming potential in the historical situation," says Poniske, who has
designed games based on the Vietnam War, the Civil War and the teachings of
This is a common problem for teachers trying to using games in the
classroom, which can be a powerful teaching tool. Games are just for fun,
games don't belong in the classroom. If the answer to the question, "What
did you do in school today?" is "We played games," an irate email to a
principal follows. And yet those teachers who have incorporated board games
and historic simulations into their curriculum find that their students
become fully engaged in a subject which might otherwise be another dreary
chapter in a history book. And a conflict relatively unknown outside of New
England would be accessible to a broader number of students. Our generally
poor understanding of our past and how it has shaped our present is what we
should be angry about.