Participation Nation is a prototype for an innovative cross-media learning environment focused on U.S. Constitutional history and civics. Funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting’s History and Civics Initiative, Participation Nation was a collaboration between the Game Innovation Lab, KCET, Activision-Blizzard, and a multi-disciplinary development team including educators, historians, artists, designers, programmers.
The prototype focuses on the constitutional crisis surrounding school integration in Little Rock, Arkansas in 1957. A set of webisodes and a graphic novel provide the background story of this crisis, while the central “Debate Game” asks players to use the people, laws and values from the era to support two out of three points of the argument for or against school integration, addressing questions like “Should the federal government intervene?”, “Is media coverage swaying public opinion?”, and “Are civil rights worth risking a constitutional crisis?” Players can take the side of the “Forces of Change” or the “Status Quo” in debate over the constitutional issues that shaped the country.
Players can also access an array of primary source materials including historic documents, newspaper articles, and archival footage to give their arguments in the game extra power. As in history, there is no right or wrong answer, but rather a play is evaluated on it’s relevancy to each argument.