Developer: the game is a production of the Center for New American Media, created in collaboration with Muzzy Lane Software

Genre: 3D adventure

Educational purpose: History

Target audience: K-6, 9-12

H&H taxonomy class: Historical Reconstruction

Release date: 2012

Platforms: PC, MAC


Imagine a learning experience where players are thrust into the everyday hustle and bustle of life in America a century ago. That’s what happens in Past/Present, a fully realized interactive 3-D “virtual world” in which a player “becomes” a fictional character, or “avatar”, who is caught up in the big issues of the early 1900s. Players can choose to become either Anna Caruso, an immigrant weaver at the Boylston Mill in the fictional New England town of Eureka Falls, or Walter Armbruster, a native-born middle-manager at the same factory. Both Anna and Walter are confronted with financial pressures and the threat of labor unrest, and players have to shape their responses to the challenges of the era.

Past/Present has been designed to promote students’ historical reasoning, foster cooperative learning and intellectual teamwork, and teach the use and interpretation of primary sources. Perhaps most importantly, the game has been designed to appeal to and engage a wide variety of learning styles, recognizing the differentiation that occurs in middle-school classrooms. With characters that reflect conflicting points of view on controversial issues, incorporation of primary sources, and ethical problem-solving,Past/Present fulfills the mandates expressed by state and national frameworks – and does so in a richly engaging, developmentally-appropriate way.

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