Common Sense Review
Updated June 2014

Global Conflicts

Role play, global conversations make social studies personal
Common Sense Rating 4
Teacher Rating (1 Teacher Review) 4
  • In Global Conflicts: Sweatshops, players are clothing company representatives investigating a child labor claim in Bangladesh.
  • Students interview people, explore dialogue trees, and choose how and when to respond.
  • In Global Conflicts: Palestine, students are journalists who report from either side of a conflict or from an impartial perspective.
  • For each game in the series, teachers get PDFs of a teacher’s manual, student worksheets, and a topic overview.
Well-developed scenarios provide significant depth of information; games offer extensive teaching materials.
Medium production values, some bugs, potentially contentious character representations could detract from content.
Bottom Line
Overall, this game ranks "best in class" for high school students, even if competition is slim.
John Sooja
Common Sense Reviewer
Classroom teacher
Common Sense Rating 4
Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return? 3

Real-world scenarios and first-person perspectives keep students engaged. Interaction and conversation are central to game progress; students will become invested in their characters as their decisions alter outcomes.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer? 4

With thorough historical overviews, teachers set up a course outline to the level of depth desired. Students are encouraged to work in pairs.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students? 4

Each game in the series comes with a teacher’s manual, a topic overview, lesson plans, worksheets, and a PPT presentation of each episode. 

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How Can Teachers Use It?

Start with reviewing the teaching materials for a specific game scenario. After reviewing the topic's historical overview, have students work in pairs to play each episode. Between episodes, ask students to journal about the characters they meet, and then pose questions about them. Further tweak assignments, debriefing and following up research questions as necessary. 

Have students create outlines of the different perspectives in the game and make lists of each view represented. Choose two volunteers to role-play each side of the conflict, encouraging improvisation in addition to referring to their lists. Then have the conversation again, this time with a mediator who helps guide the class to find a common ground on the issue.

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What's It Like?

Global Conflicts is a video-game series featuring different scenarios (e.g., Global Conflicts: Palestine; Global Conflicts: Child Soldiers; Global Conflicts: Afghanistan). The games, played from a first-person perspective in a 3-D world (with easy point-and-click controls), ask students to put themselves in the role of different characters, conducting interviews and following dialogue trees to their conclusions in order to better understand the different perspectives, viewpoints, and ethical issues each conflict raises. Each game tasks students with investigating or reporting on a particular problem: They might, for example, act as an International Criminal Court investigator interviewing Uganda’s leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army, or as a journalist reporting on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In all games, students interview and converse with a variety of people, including ordinary citizens, politicians, resistance leaders, journalists, officials, and others to reach the best decisions in the game.

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Is It Good For Learning?

Real learning occurs when educators don't shy away from realistic representations of real-world conflicts. These games offer no simple answer to the conflicts presented, thereby encouraging deep investigation into, and critical thinking about, international issues, corruption, democracy, human rights, immigration, and poverty, to name a few.   

Each game character is well-developed. Having students delve into the personal experiences of local residents, aid workers, police, and so on creates for the student a very social -- and personal -- narrative journey with many opportunities for self-reflection. Through all the interviews and conversations, students amass data and information essential to adequately assess each situation.

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