Here’s a brief description of ten games with strong social awareness and education in world issues that require very little preparation and some tips on how to use them. All these games were chosen because they are free, easily accessible, engaging and fun for English Language Learners.
A game that aims to educate gamers about the problems that face immigrants and political assylum seekers. The games are divided into three stages (each stage has 4 games) that cover war and conflict in an immigrants native country, escaping across to a border country and finally starting a new life in a new country. Links here will take you to previous blog posts with ideas on how to use the game in a connected classroom.
A strategy simulation game based on a 3rd world farm that’s great for a connected classroom note taking activity. Use the game notes to stimulate discussion and drive a writing task for homework. The interesting thing about this game is that it reflects the ‘real’ situation 3rd world farmers are in – you can’t win in this game!
This game simulates a a farmer and families life on the farm in Haiti. If you’ve played 3rd world farmer then this is a very similar game. Get your learners to write an instruction manual on how to play the game. Great for eliciting 0 conditionals and contrasting what is ‘always true’ in some parts of the world ‘won’t necessarily be true’ in others.
A disaster simulation game in which you choose a disaster scenario (tsunami, hurricane, wildfire, earthquake and flood) and “try to build upon an established community; providing defences and upgraded housing to prepare for the inevitable disaster.”
A subversive look at the business process behind the fast food company ‘McDonalds. Game takes place over four scenarios (agricultural section, the feedlot, the fast food restaurant and headquarters). If you or your learners have ever seen ‘supersize me’ or read ‘fast food nation’ then you will like this.
BBC commissioned game that looks at the problem of climate from a presidents viewpoint. This is quite a serious and mature game with complex rules. There is a tutorial that helps familiarise a player with the game play but I would only recommend this game to a more mature higher level class. Go through the tutorial on the board but explain you want to learn how to play it as much as they do so help each other out. When the class is familiar with the rules they could then progress to the computer room to play in pairs and later compare how well they did.
A look at Nicaragua and the the warning signs and possible measures that can be taken in the event of an earthquake, flood or food shortage. Three different levels offer reading practice, some fun timed activities and a great platform for discussions. Ask Learners to make notes, write conditional sentences or discuss possible game strategy.
A quiz game aimed at testing knowledge and raising awareness of nuclear weapons and the importance of the peace process. Read the clues to identify a country and select your answer by clicking on a country on the world map. You then launch a peace dove to that country. Treat it as a quiz to vote on the answers in open class or as a webquest for pairs in the computer room.
“Ars Regendi is a browser-based political game that lets you take the reigns of your own, realistically simulated state. You will be asked to weigh in on various matters of state and – faced with a number of choices – any decision you make will have ramifications for the well-being of your virtual populace! In addition, you will be able to form alliances with other countries, initiate reforms and adjust the budget. Ars Regendi is a highly realistic and complex economic simulation that squares you off against other state leaders and puts your political and financial abilities to the test.” Great long term project for higher level language learners with lots of reading and writing practice.
Darfur is Dying is a browser game about the political and social crisis in the Sudan. The game starts with a race to and from a pumping station in the desert. Avoid roving militia patrols by hiding (space bar also pauses the game) where you can. Get learners to finish a short exercise in their workbooks and let a winner run a section of the game. The next stage of the game requires a little more discussion but great for group work and collaborative gaming.