For years, gamers and game developers have argued that video games can and do have a cultural impact equivalent to art and literature. That argument just received a boost as Poland recently added 11bit’s This War of Mine to their official reading list for schools.
11bit CEO Grzegorz Miechowski made the following statement regarding the news:
Of course, games are already being used in education for teaching maths, chemistry, and developing cognitive abilities, but I don’t think we’ve ever encountered a game being officially included in the educational system on a national level as school reading. I’m proud to say 11 bit Studios’ work can add to the development of education and culture in our country.
The game will be available to students at the start of the 2020/2021 academic year. Owing to the mature themes (and rating), it will only be available to students who are 18 or older, which suggests it would be limited primarily to college level courses. It will be recommended for students enrolled in history, sociology, philosophy, and ethics courses. Students who are enrolled in those courses can obtain a copy of the game for free. It is unclear if only the base game will be available to students or if it will be coming with the “Little Ones” and “Stories” DLC add-ons, which presented additional scenarios and mechanics for players to account for. Either way, this marks a milestone for gaming beyond the typical technology courses.
Originally released in 2014, This War of Mine was based off Bosnian civilian experiences during the Siege of Sarajevo, which lasted from 1992 to 1996, the longest siege of a national capital in modern military history. Expansions to the game covered everything from preserving cultural artifacts to the nature of childhood in a war zone. The game sold over 4.5 million units (as of April 2019) to generally high praise from critics and players alike.