Review by Jenny Bristol, Common Sense Education | Updated March 2017

1979 Revolution

Violent, immersive view of revolution engages despite tricky interface

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Grades
11-12 This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
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Pros: Promotes cultural understanding and teaches important historical events.

Cons: Choices have inconsistent impact on the outcome, while screen text disappears quickly.

Bottom Line: This important historical experience is the perfect start for more global understanding, but the challenging interface may get in the way of learning.

Teachers can use this app as part of history, geography, or cultural studies lessons. It will leave students with a sense of what it was like in the middle of the tensions surrounding the 1979 Iranian revolution, which will lead to further discussion about the Middle East, politics, religion, empathy, and cultural traditions. Since this game is for mature audiences, it should only be used in the very upper grades. Themes also include martyrdom, families torn apart, political propaganda, and tough moral decisions. This game would be the perfect lead-in to research papers or essays elaborating on any of these themes. 

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1979 Revolution: A Cinematic Adventure Game is an immersive game that thrusts players into the action of the chaotic time before and after the 1979 Iranian revolution. As a photographer, you spend time with friends and family and walk through the streets filled with activity and demonstrations, all the while taking photos that get recorded in the game encyclopedia. Players learn about cultural topics such as the tradition of offering and drinking tea as well as receiving gold coins on your wedding day; they also learn about important people and places in history. The encyclopedia is where you can compare your game photos with actual photos taken at the time, deepening the experience. There are various mini-games throughout that help you feel like part of the action. Interact with the story by tapping, swiping, and choosing answers.

The storyline's purpose is to immerse you in Iranian culture and history during this important time. Because the game tries to paint the revolution in an authentic light, topics of a sensitive nature are included, such as torture, police brutality, interrogation, beatings, abuse, martyrdom, death, blood, and guns. Players have the option to respond to questions in a peaceful or violent manner, though the game's characters always seem to justify their actions, regardless of whether they're pacifistic or violent. Most of the scenes are quite emotionally charged, and players are confronted with many moral decisions. Do you go your own way, or are you swayed by friends or family? Make your decisions quickly or you'll lose the opportunity to respond.

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1979 Revolution is an immersive experience, but it's not only blood, violence, and demonstrations; as you walk through the scenes, taking photos of objects and people, your game encyclopedia fills up with information about Iranian culture. Learning about Iran in this way helps integrate kids' knowledge of the violent revolution with the human side of the story. The real appeal of the game is that it puts players in the shoes of a person in the midst of conflict and strife. It's more of a journey than a game. The storyline is based on actual people and events, and, as with reality, the lines between right and wrong are blurred and distorted, challenging players to make difficult choices. But since the game has three profile saves, players can try out different options.

The game's challenging interface, though, can get in the way of learning for some. Many of the voices are very quiet, and the text that pops up on the screen is a little haphazard. Subtitles are small, and it's hard to tell where you're supposed to look, with text disappearing faster than you can read it. There isn't much built-in help, except occasional notices about what you're supposed to do. You just have to wander, or tap things, or look around. There's a time limit on many options, and it's easy to not respond in time. Some of the game's responses have no effect on the story, while others are key, but it's hard to tell which are which. The game only scratches the surface of the issues it brings up, so while it's a useful starting point, more depth is required for a full lesson on the topic.

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Overall Rating
3

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?
4

The visual design is a bit stiff, but it will immediately pull in students, immersing them in the experience of Iran's revolution.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?
3

Players have many opportunities to make choices and interact with the action, but their choices often have little effect on the outcome. The game is more about having an experience than choosing a story resolution.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?
2

Though the game provides information on what to do, sometimes the text disappears from the screen too quickly. There isn't much built-in help available, so players are forced to learn as they go.


Common Sense Reviewer
Jenny Bristol Homeschooling parent