Isn’t Middle Eastern history too serious for games? The word itself carries associations like “The Great Game,” a euphemism for the British and Russian confrontation in Central Asia in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Even today, military conflicts are sometimes likened to chess, and succession struggles in states like Saudi Arabia are called a “game of thrones.”
Comparing wars to a recreational activity or children’s play easily hides more than it illuminates. Like a two-dimensional chessboard, a view of the world through the lens of a game can lack depth. Many human experiences get lost, especially those of so-called pawns and probably even those of kings and queens. Should teachers of Middle Eastern history therefore avoid following the current trend of gamification in pedagogy and other areas of life?
Certain game-like elements are much more than a fad, but already well-established in education. Pupils commonly compete for grades and academic honors, as they do for scores and prizes in sports. Teachers of many subjects use “quizzes” (perhaps another euphemism) to assess learning. Relatively easy questions are supposed to prepare students for more formal and tougher examinations. Quizzes often take the form of short multiple-choice tests in order to save class time for other activities–and grading time for the instructor afterwards.