Taking A Stroll Through Ancient Egypt

How three academics are using Assassin’s Creed: Origins to teach people about Egypt.

Last week, I wrote about how a professor is using Red Dead Redemption in his American History class to help students learn and get excited about history. I even mentioned how cool it would be if other professors and schools utilized video games to their true educational potential. Well, I came across a trio of academics who have started streaming Assassin’s Creed: Origins on Twitch with the aim of teaching viewers all the intricacies of Ancient Egypt using the game as their guide.

The series is called Playing in the Past is hosted by Egyptologist Dr. Chris Naunton; Ph.D student, Gemma Renshaw; and Dr. Kate Sheppard, an associate professor of history at Missouri University of Science and Technology. Over the six planned episodes, the trio plan to cover everything from how Egyptians thought about death, burial, and the afterlife to the ancient technology that helped power society and build the massive temples and pyramids that Egypt is known for today.

I perused through most of the first episode, and it’s well worth a watch if you have time. It’s interesting to hear them discuss the layout of various temples and walkways and muse about what the game developers nailed as opposed to what may have gotten missed.

Dr. Chris Naunton came across the game by chance while researching a children’s book about Cleopatra. He was immediately taken with images of the game, referring to it as “the best visualization of ancient Egypt.” Before AC: Origins, Naunton wasn’t a game of any sort, but the impressive level of detail in AC: Origins has sold him on just how incredible games can be.

Digital worlds are the new field trips.

We all have memories of going on field trips to different museums or the aquarium to learn about everything from dinosaur bones and sharks to World War II and the Holocaust. With video games, it’s possible to up the scale of the field trips for less cost while getting more value out of the trip. Why go somewhere else when we can bring those worlds and places straight to you? It cuts out the middleman, the tedious secondary evidence.

Games can be an excellent tool for teaching, acting as both a way to get people excited about a topic and motivate people to dig deeper into the subject matter at hand. The level of detail and authenticity that’s possible in creating digital representations of real-life places and scenarios is unrivaled in video games. I want to see more of this in the future. I’m always on the lookout for educators willing to innovate when it comes to education and video games.

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