History Department Collaboration With Microsoft’s World’s Edge Studio and Relic Entertainment Made This Possible
In a surprising move, starting in 2022, those who are attending the University of Arizona will be able to get one credit towards their college degrees by playing Age of Empires IV. This is due to having two members of the UArizona history department- associate professor of medieval history Paul Milliman, and Alison Futrell, the department head as well as an associate professor of Roman history, having worked on special content for one of the campaigns.
There is a catch to getting this credit, however. Well, a few catches. One is going to the website where students will have to go through a module that’s presented by the two professors. After that, players will have to go through the key points of the four campaigns, and after that, they’ll have to take an assessment. Should they pass, they will get one credit towards their degree. It’s made very clear that this credit only counts after UArizona admission. Still, it’s also made clear that this supplemental material is free, and can be enjoyed by anyone, though players will still need a copy of Age of Empires IV. So- mostly free.
Still, this is a great stride towards tying gaming and learning together. This is, in fact, a project that was come up with by the university, instead of the gaming community more than two years ago- by Kara Aquilano Forney, executive director of corporate initiatives and business development for Arizona Online. She collaborated with Will McCahill, business lead at Microsoft’s World’s Edge game studio, as well as the two professors to make this possible.
“I approached the history department, and call it serendipity or fate, but when I discovered we had two professors who are gamers and one of them was a medievalist, it sealed the deal.” said Forney. “We began discussions before COVID hit, which then set us back a year. But now we’re finally at a point where we can announce the partnership, and I couldn’t be more thrilled.”
McCahill also commented on the partnership with UArizona. “University partnership wasn’t our initial goal but the first time I played the campaign, it sparked a 20+ minute conversation about the Normans with our narrative designer. I realized we needed to get this in the hands of students.” he then added, “I’m excited and I think students will be pleasantly surprised by this unique approach to learning history.”
Milliman is already working on creating a new type of course in which gamer players will become gamer students, and perhaps work towards a degree in the UArizona history department. This may be a new type of learning, and perhaps, a new type of gaming.