Mission US: A Cheyenne Odyssey
What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Mission US: A Cheyenne Odyssey is a first-person adventure that asks kids to take on the role of a young Cheyenne boy in the late 1800s as he grows to adulthood. This game-ified learning experience is intended to be used as part of an integrated curriculum on Native American culture (resources are provided on the publisher's website), not necessarily as a stand-alone experience. Although not visually explicit, the scenarios are true to the time period and involve some violence, including the use of guns and arrows; death by war, starvation, and other means; and raids and attacks. Kids will have to make decisions that would be morally questionable by today's standards, and some kids may find the content to be upsetting. They will be challenged to put themselves in the character's shoes as he attempts to survive and help his people. They can earn "badges" for generosity, bravery, wisdom, and impulsiveness. These aren't rewards so much as representations of personality traits within the experience. The game itself doesn't choose sides, but, because of the perspective, kids may understandably feel most sympathetic toward the main character. Parents also should know that the game presents another cultural way of life, including a different religion. As an example, the adventure begins with a telling of the Cheyenne creation story.
What kids can learn
Language & Reading
- cultural understanding
- historical figures
Thinking & Reasoning
- applying information
- perspective taking
Responsibility & Ethics
- honoring the community
- learning from consequences
- making wise decisions
Engagement, Approach, Support
This isn't the typical video game or "edutainment" experience, and it shouldn't be treated as such. Instead of getting dry textbook lessons, kids will be very engaged by the game's immersive feel and the ability to make their own choices, while still learning about the time period. They may even be intrigued about replaying the game multiple times to earn different achievements and discover separate outcomes. Still, between the difficult subject matter and the slower-moving style, don't expect that kids will choose this over pure entertainment titles.
Learning is well integrated; the experiential/first-person nature of the simulation brings historical details to life and may help kids absorb the content more readily. The experience changes based on the choices kids make, and they can see how their decisions affect their character.
Teachers may miss a central dashboard to track student progress, but other support materials are plentiful and top-notch. Lesson plans, activities, vocabulary words, and primary sources are available on the website to help educators and parents provide historical context for the simulation, as well as a deeper learning experience. In-game help is available but rarely needed. Kids can collect badges, skills, and "smart words" (vocabulary words) as they play.
What's it about?
MISSION US: A CHEYENNE ODYSSEY follows the life of a Cheyenne boy named Little Fox in the late 1800s. His family life is beginning to change: His sister is about to be married, and he's taking on more responsibilities, such as training wild horses, trading with white men, and protecting his tribe. During his journey, the player will need to make difficult choices on Little Fox's behalf that may impact his future. Does he act bravely? Is he generous? Does he behave impulsively or thoughtfully? These decisions shape his personality and future. Little Fox will see people die through violence and famine, choose whether to adapt to the changing times or fight for his way of life and even marry and start a family of his own. In the end, players learn about his children and grandchildren and how they have continued his legacy.
Is it any good?
Mission US: A Cheyenne Odyssey compellingly brings to life many of the challenges and choices that faced the Cheyenne people in the late 1800s. Life wasn't easy, and that's reflected in the game's scenarios. This is a way for kids to understand the perspective of Native Americans as they fought to retain their way of life. Also, the game presents a clear point of view that isn't always captured in the classroom. Since each decision affects the character, the player has a personal and meaningful experience. It's a great starting point for dialogue and a chance for kids to do a lot of critical thinking.
The experience can go even deeper as you replay with different choices. Since your decisions result in different "badges," or personality traits, they can subtly or radically change Little Fox's fate. Kids can experience how each choice they make can affect Little Fox's life, a lesson that's valuable even beyond the constraints of the activity. Although "fun" isn't the right word to describe the simulation, it's certainly engaging in a way that typical history lessons aren't. This means that kids will connect more deeply with the subject matter and gain a greater understanding of the challenges of the time. Mission US: A Cheyenne Odyssey also offers a complete set of teacher materials, including activities, historical context, vocabulary, and primary sources, which make it useful for school and after-school programs as well.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about what it would be like to live in a nomadic tribe. How would life be different? Do you think you'd like that kind of life? Did you learn about history by playing this game?
What would you do if someone challenged your right to live as you choose? How would you react?
Is there ever a time when violence is justified? If so, under what circumstances?