Mission US: Flight to Freedom

 
(i)

 

Learning(i)

Riveting sim where your choices decide fate of teen slave.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Depicts slavery with realistic negativity. A number of characters risk their lives to help Lucy. On the other hand, kids earn badges for disobeying Lucy's master, destroying his property, and neglecting her duties. Some kids may not understand that Lucy's disobedience is a form of protest.

Positive role models

Both positive and negative role models throughout the story. There are those who help Lucy and those who try to hurt her. Lucy is strong-willed, headstrong, and persistent, but player choices further determine her character.

Ease of play

Easy to maneuver and understand, with a few quirks. Mostly multiple-choice decisions, with some panning around a scene. Not always clear what you're supposed to do, but you can figure it out.

Violence

No on-screen violence but an undercurrent of violence/impending violence throughout. At one moment, a slave is badly whipped. During another, a man pulls a gun on Lucy and her ally. Kids can have Lucy promise to learn to shoot a gun.

Sex

A little flirting.

Language

Historically accurate use of words such as "Negro."

Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable
Privacy & safety

No safety or privacy concerns.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Mission US: Flight to Freedom is an age-appropriate but realistic simulation of life for Lucy, an African-American teenage girl living in the pre-Civil War period, as she attempts to flee from slavery to freedom. This gamified learning experience is intended to be used as part of an integrated curriculum on slavery (resources are provided on the publisher's website), not necessarily as a stand-alone experience. Kids who play will get a sense of what it's like to be ordered around by a master, leave family behind to run for freedom, and have to make difficult decisions. Some choices will result in Lucy being captured, and the simulation will end. Given the subject matter, kids might find the experience to be emotionally intense; families are torn apart, people are treated poorly, and characters are unfairly imprisoned. The use of words such as "Negro" could feel offensive to some, although they're authentic to the time period. Most decisions have no right or wrong answer, which may be a new experience for kids. There are repercussions for each decision and, much like in real life, you can't always know which will end poorly. Some choices result in "badges," which aren't rewards so much as representations of personality traits within the experience. Players may receive a badge for being rebellious, but they also can earn one for following all the rules. One badge is earned by saying a prayer in a difficult moment. As in life, you can't develop all the personality traits, as some conflict with others. As the game progresses, these personality traits come into play and help shape Lucy's life.

What kids can learn

Subjects

Language & Reading

  • reading comprehension
  • vocabulary

Social Studies

  • cultural understanding
  • historical figures
  • history

Skills

Thinking & Reasoning

  • applying information
  • asking questions
  • decision-making

Emotional Development

  • developing resilience
  • empathy
  • perspective taking

Responsibility & Ethics

  • making wise decisions
  • embracing differences
  • learning from consequences

Engagement, Approach, Support

Engagement

This isn't a typical video game or "edutainment" experience, and it shouldn't be treated as such. Instead of 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. Still, between the difficult subject matter and the slower-moving style, don't expect that kids will choose this over pure entertainment titles. 

Learning Approach

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. By exploring in-world objects and vocabulary words, kids help shape their character and the story's trajectory.

Support

Teachers may miss a central dashboard to track student progress, but other support materials are plentiful and top-notch. Lesson plans, activities, vocabulary worlds, 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. 

What kids can learn

Subjects

Language & Reading

  • reading comprehension
  • vocabulary

Social Studies

  • cultural understanding
  • historical figures
  • history

Skills

Thinking & Reasoning

  • applying information
  • asking questions
  • decision-making

Emotional Development

  • developing resilience
  • empathy
  • perspective taking

Responsibility & Ethics

  • making wise decisions
  • embracing differences
  • learning from consequences

Kids can learn about American history, particularly the pre-Civil War era of slavery, and what society was like for an African-American girl in the 1800s. They'll discover how the choices you make shape your future and that sometimes there may be a situation without a right answer. They also can see that historical issues often have many points of view. Kids can learn some key vocabulary words and practice their ability to both ask questions and absorb what they're reading. This isn't the most traditional game experience, but it's a great supplementary tool for classroom lessons. Mission US: Flight to Freedom's first-person point-of-view simulation can help history come alive in new ways. 

This Learning Rating review was written by Christy Matte

What's it about?

MISSION US: FLIGHT TO FREEDOM follows the journey of 14-year-old Kentucky slave Lucy as she leaves her family behind in a quest for freedom. She begins on the plantation, where she has chores such as laundry, feeding the pigs, and collecting eggs from the chickens. When things go catastrophically wrong, she must run away to avoid being beaten or sold to a different plantation. You lead Lucy as she runs, making decisions that control the course of her fate. She befriends abolitionists and joins their cause, putting her own life at risk in the process. And when her friends are in need, she can step up to help out. But will Lucy ever really be free? Will she see her family again? It's your story, based on the choices you make. As you progress through the story, you'll help develop Lucy's personality. Is she self-reliant? Family-oriented? Rebellious? In the end, it's these traits that allow you to make the final decisions to tell the end of Lucy's story.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Mission US: Flight to Freedom is a powerful and compelling simulation about one girl's attempt to flee slavery and reach freedom. It requires kids to make some difficult decisions in a gaming world where there are no right or wrong answers. Unlike in some simulations, the choices aren't obvious, and what seems like a reasonable decision could have very negative consequences. The result is an ongoing sense of peril, especially for kids who are able to relate in some way to the lead character. Because no simulation can or should adequately convey the full depth of slavery or the escape to freedom, this shouldn't serve as a stand-alone experience. But when it's paired with a strong curriculum unit -- or discussions and research as a family -- Flight to Freedom has the ability to humanize the people of the time and can serve as a springboard for further learning and conversation.

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 Lucy's fate. Kids can experience how each choice they make can impact Lucy'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: Flight to Freedom 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 slavery. What would it be like to have someone own you and make all your choices? How would you feel?

  • When is it OK to disobey someone? Name some situations where you should stand up for yourself and disobey. When should you listen and follow the rules? How do you know the difference?

  • What do you think life was like on a plantation for the plantation owner's family? For the slaves? Did you learn about history by playing this game?

  • Can you think of a time when you stood up for or helped someone else? Why did you do it? How did it make you feel? Why do you think the abolitionists helped Lucy?

Game details

Platforms:Mac, Windows
Price:Free
Pricing structure:Free
Available online?Available online
Developer:Thirteen/WNET
Release date:January 24, 2012
Genre:Educational
Topics:Great girl role models, History

This review of Mission US: Flight to Freedom was written by

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Kid, 9 years old February 8, 2012
 

its so much fun

its so much fun
What other families should know
Educational value
Kid, 11 years old May 10, 2013
 

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What other families should know
Too much swearing
Teen, 13 years old Written byRainbowDash April 13, 2013
 

Amazingly fun game.

I love these kind of games! I love the Mission US games. It is easy to play and makes people think about before the civil war and how the "blacks" portested.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence

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