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History’s Horrors Can Be Taught Through Classroom Games: Column

A social media firestorm ignited earlier this month when the Danish company Serious Games Interactive discounted its educational 2013 video game Playing History 2: Slave Trade on Steam, the online game store. A preview showed a mini-game in which players fit as many slaves as possible inside the hold of a ship — a sort of Tetris with human bodies.

The idea that a modern-day child could recreate this historic atrocity struck a nerve. Novelist Lisa Hendrix, among others, tweeted to Serious Games founder Simon Egenfeldt-Nielsen: “Turning slavery into a ‘game’ is what’s appalling … Under no circumstances should a child equate slavery with fun.”