TDAXP has a fun post about his recent experience playing Diplomacy. This post got me thinking on how games can teach geography.
WAR GAMES AND TACTICAL GEOGRAPHY
Strabo said a good military commander can learn alot from geography. Catholicgauze, who rose all the way to the rank of Cadet in the United States Army, personally vouches for this. I impressed my Sargent right off the bat with map reading (being a geographer) but also with my tactical geographic thinking (and this came from gaming).
Playing Civil War Generals and Gettysburg! taught me even a worn regiment can hold a position against fresh troops if placed in protective terrain and entrenched BUT only for a limited time. Close Combat: A Bridge Too Far showed me how to make an enemy bleed by waging a defensive, house-to-house war. It also made me realize that an offensive attack over open ground was suicide. Finally, Operation Flashpoint re-enforced how holding high ground can be a great benefit.
OTHER GAMES AND GEOGRAPHY IN GENERAL
But other games can teach geography too. When I went along the Oregon Trail I used the Oregon Trail games (especially Oregon Trail II) as reference. It was so exciting to see the Saint Marys Indian Mission, Chimney Rock, and Fort Laramie for real. Games like the Gabriel Knight series are so well researched that one actually feels like they have visited Bavaria or southern France. Rome: Total War can be used as a historical geography tool teaching gamers where cities, cultures, and resources were and how they all interacted to create an empire whose influence is alive and well today. Castle Risk taught me about the geopolitical situation in Imperial Europe. Then there is Last Express which gives a complete breakdown of the twentieth-century Europe at the end.
So play games and learn geography! What can be better than that?