Civilization V, the fifth game in the Civilization series of strategy games, will be getting an educational edition. The announcement, made in a press release, stated that an educational Civilization V version will be released in many North American high schools as part of the education curriculum. The game, titled CivilizationEDU, will be released in the fall of 2017 and will help engage children and improve key skills.

The decision was made after the 13th Annual Games for Change Festival announced a partnership with GlassLab Inc, a nonprofit learning company, to bring a modified version of Sid Meier’s Civilization V to high schools in North America.

CivilizationEDU will enhance the learning ability of  students, enabling them to think critically, create historical events, consider and evaluate the geographical consequences of their economic and technological decisions, engage in critical thinking and experiment with the decisive relationships between military, technology, political and socioeconomic development.

Moreover, GlassLab Inc will incorporate an analytical learning tool in CivilizationEDU to track students’ progress and test their analytical and problem-solving skills. Hence it captures the enjoyable, powerful and popular medium of video games to offer a unique and modern solution to academic learning, providing a positive alternative to standardized tests.

The teaching faculty who use CivilizationEDU in the classrooms will have access to an online dashboard that will provide reports on students’ progress, exhibiting how in-game achievements link to; problem solving, gameplay tutorial videos, developer diaries and instructional resources, including a comprehensive gameplay guide and a lesson plan formulated according to academic and 21st century standards.

Civilization V

Strauss Zelnick, Chairman and CEO of Take-Two said, “We are incredibly proud to lend one of our industry’s most beloved series to educators to use as a resource to inspire and engage students further. Civilization has challenged millions of people around the world to revisit and experience history, boldly pursue exploration, and create their own societies based on their passions and freedom of choice. I can’t think of a better interactive experience to help challenge and shape the minds of tomorrow’s leaders. ”

Sid Meier, Founder and Director of Creative Development at Firaxis Games and the genius behind the Civilizations series of video games, believes he owes the success of his franchise to the ability of his games to provide a fun learning experience while playing. Although his games give the foremost priority to entertainment value they also provide a unique learning experience. He complimented Civilization’s audience by adding they are intellectual individuals who want to learn but not necessarily in the traditional sense.

Civilization is one of the most popular computer strategy franchises of all times, with over 34 million units sold worldwide. It is known for its highly addictive turn-based gameplay, where players seek to establish their own empire, changing the fate of civilization.

Meier added that Civilization players enjoy the time spent discovering new civilizations, “running” into famous historical leaders, and creating their own version of history based on their decisions.  As they progress in the game, players learn important lessons from their successes and failures and are able to repeat scenarios, making different choices and trying different strategies. He was very excited about the collaboration with GlassLab and is looking forward to the game being deployed in classrooms.

This move came as no surprise as many studies in recent years have showed that video games are effective at making students more attentive and alert, engaging in social activities and reducing symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). A new research published in SAGE Open revealed that children suffering from ADHD could improve their social and behavioral skills by concentrating on computer games.

The conducted case study administered specifically-designed software to students of five elementary schools in China. The software functioned by syncing a wireless headband that monitored the child’s brain waves as he or she played in addition to adjusting the level of difficulty and system of scoring. These basic manipulations would help in targeting and training aspects of attention control, impulses and working memory as well as resulting in an overall improvement in behavior, completion of tasks and social interaction.

Student problems needing attention included hyperactivity, difficulty paying attention and being socially reserved. After the study, the results showed that these problems were seen to have reduced to near normal levels. Teachers also reported a decrease in the frequency of symptoms associated with ADHD. Moreover, four out of the five groups of parents stated an improvement in social interactions of their children with teachers and class fellows.

Due to positive study results, more and more game franchises are following suit to develop games in collaboration with learning companies such as GlassLab. Games such as Minecraft, SimCity and Plants vs Zombies are just some of the examples in the ever-growing list of education-focused games.