Young gamers desperately trying to score a new console by convincing their parents of the benefits of gaming now have a third point to make besides improved hand-eye coordination and problem-solving skills: Games can provide a better knowledge of Canadian history. 2K has announced that it will donate 100,000 copies of Civilization III and its educational mod HistoriCanada: The New World to high school students.
Developed by Toronto, Ontario-based media firm Bitcasters, HistoriCanada simulates scenarios from Canada's past, allowing gamers to take control of one of its European or aboriginal cultures to relive history, or change it in the process. In addition to the core gameplay (which builds off of Civilization's social, economic, and military simulations), HistoriCanada also includes artwork, text, and short video clips on a wealth of topics as a result of cooperation with The Canadian Encyclopedia and Historica Minutes.
A Bitcasters representative told GameSpot that sponsor and distribution details are still being finalized, but 20,000 copies will be sent directly to high schools by Canada's National History Society, where teachers will be able to use it in extra-credit assignments and otherwise experiment with the game in the classroom. The remaining 80,000 copies of the game will distributed directly to 12- to 18-year-old students through mail or retail outlets, likely by an as yet undetermined sponsor.
The disc will include the first episode of the game, which covers the settlement of Europeans in Canada from 1525 to 1763. A pair of downloadable sequels will be made available for free in the coming months, and will cover the nation's history through the turn of the 20th century. HistoriCanada will also include Civilization III: Conquests and a demo of Civilization IV.
For gamers who already have a copy of Civilization III, the first episode of the game is already available on the HistoriCanada Web site.