THIRTEEN Productions LLC, a WNET company, has announced the launch of "City of Immigrants," the fourth interactive experience in the award-winning Mission US series of free, digital role-playing games created to engage middle and high school students in the exploration and understanding of U.S. History. It is now available at mission-us.org.
"City of Immigrants" debuted on February 11, 2015 and supports the study of immigration, the labor movement, and cultural identity in the American History curriculum. Players take on the role of Lena Brodsky, a Russian Jewish teen who has recently immigrated to New York City in 1907. As Lena makes the Lower East Side her home, she struggles to help support her family and finds herself in the middle of the growing labor movement.
"Mission US is part of the digital transformation sweeping the educational landscape, giving students new and powerful ways to explore historical and cultural issues. Through the four role-playing games, young people can explore history in an engaging and personalized way, making it memorable and meaningful," said Neal Shapiro, president and CEO of WNET.
As young people play "City of Immigrants," they gain important insights into the struggle for safe working conditions, fair wages, and the right to bargain collectively. At the same time, they experience the challenges of cultural differences, assimilation, and prejudice. Players will interact with a variety of characters, from factory supervisors to family and religious leaders, who all had roles in creating America's labor movement and strong communities in New York. As they assume the role of Lena, players must decide: Does she dare speak up and stand up for workers' rights? Can she continue to support her family? Players will make choices and experience the consequences of those choices – the same choices immigrants grappled with as they made their way in the "land of opportunity."
The content for "City of Immigrants" was developed by a team of historians and educators at the American Social History Project (ASHP)/Center for Media & Learning, a research center at the Graduate Center, City University of New York, in partnership with the Lower East Side Tenement Museum, which consulted on historical content for the game and development of educators materials. The Museum building and its artifacts also served as models for design of the game's locations, costumes, and props. THIRTEEN worked with Electric Funstuff, an educational software company that specializes in using gaming approaches and multimedia techniques to create effective learning experiences, to design, develop, and produce the game. Formative research was conducted by Education Development Center's Center for Children and Technology.
Accompanying curriculum activities and rich supplemental resources including maps, personal narratives, cultural artifacts and more will help students understand the historical context of the period. Educators and players at home can access Mission US "City of Immigrants" via streaming and download at mission-us.org.
The Mission US series of role-playing games engage young people in the exploration, discovery, and understanding of U.S. history. Research has shown that, by assuming the roles of peers from the past, students develop a more personal, memorable, and meaningful connection with complex historical content and context. The first game in the series, "For Crown or Colony?" puts players in the role of a 14-year-old printer's apprentice in 1770 Boston. "Flight to Freedom," the second in the series, gives students an unforgettable experience as a 14-year-old enslaved young woman who escapes to the North in 1848. In "A Cheyenne Odyssey" students "live the life" of Little Fox, a fictional member of the Northern Cheyenne tribe, who must learn to adapt to all the impacts of westward expansion in 1866. A fifth mission about the challenges of the Great Depression is currently in development.
For educators, each Mission US game includes a collection of educator-developed resources. These materials, like the games themselves, are available at no cost and include document-based questions, primary sources, class activities, vocabulary builders, standards alignments, writing prompts and visual aids. Professional development videos help teachers integrate the games into the curriculum successfully.
Mission US is produced by THIRTEEN Productions LLC in association with WNET.
Source: THIRTEEN Productions LLC, thirteen.org/