First, let me just say that the time has finally come! I had to do homework for video games!!
The game lives on an archived history page on the BBC’s webpage. This page features a series of tabs that represent a different time period or subject in history. In order to find the game manually, the user will need to click on the “British History” tab. However, I suspect most users will do what I did and Google search the game’s title which gave me a straight connection to the game through both the first and second results of the search.
Once I arrived on the page, the title screen the game detailed a brief history of the Industrial Revolution in Victorian England along with a description of how the game works. I moved to the next screen by clicking “Launch the Game” at the bottom of the screen.
After launching the game, a screen popped up giving me background information on my character. From there, I clicked “play” to begin.
Next, the “Introduction” screen emerged. This screen explained to me how the industry of weaving cotton into yarn needed to be overhauled. After hitting “next,” the screen continued to explain how my character wanted to invest in a new business to weave cotton into cloth and detailed the decisions I would have to make.
The first decision I had to make was where my business should be located. I was given two options: Cumbria and Lancashire. These two locations are shown on a map and I could click on both locations to find out their traits.
Once I made a decision, the game explained why it was or was not a good decision and whether or not I lost or gained money.
The second decision I had to make was what type of labor my new business would use. The game gave me a choice between men and women and children, but that was all it gave me. No information concerning the choices was made available to me like it was for the decision on locations. After making my decision, I was again informed whether it was or was not a good decision and whether or not I lost or gained money.
Next, I had to decide which type of power I would use for my new business. The choices proposed were waterwheel, steam power, or the homemaker. Again, no information given about these choices, just the option to select one. Similarly, I was taught how my decision impacted my business.
The last decision I had to make entailed making an improvement to my newly established business to improve its efficiency. I was given two options – better machinery or improving working conditions. Again, I was not given information about the selections and for a third time I was informed about how my decision affected my business.
Finally, the last screen revealed whether I was a successful entrepreneur or not and why. This screen is a two part screen and offered me the options to play again or exit the game.
So, I guess all of you are wondering what decisions I made and whether or not I was successful. Well I am ashamed to say that I was not a successful businessman, because I chose the wrong location. Unfortunately, this is because I was thinking that the game was set in the 19th century and not the 18th century. While the game explains on the title screen that it is set in the 18th century, it does not repeat its setting often, so I quickly forgot.
With all of this being said, I played two more times. Once to ensure that changing my location would result in a win and the second to change all of my decisions to see how the game reacts for different users. It is important to note that all of the pages expressed historical information.
Following my experience with the game I asked my fiance to play as well. I did this, because I wanted to see how a user without a history background interacts with the game. I found that the game was a sweeping success. He explained how he learned about geography, labor standards, the Industrial Revolution, among other things in 18th century England.
While I do not believe that Who Wants to be a Cotton Millionaire? is a suitable substitute for classroom learning, I do think that it could supplement classroom learning and may even be an alternative for those who do not learn well in a traditional classroom setting. A theory that is purported by James Paul Gee’s book What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy.