‘Spy video game’ to be included on national curriculum to make Polish history more appealing
A multi-platform video game where players become ‘heroes of Polish intelligence’ is to be included in the national curriculum in a bid to make Polish history more appealing to younger audiences.
Set during the Polish-Bolshevik War, and developed by the Office of New Technologies at the Institute of National Remembrance (IPN), Gra Szyfrów challenges users to break Bolshevik ciphers, safeguard radio communication lines and neutralize an armoured train.
Steeped in drama, the introductory text sets the scene: “It is late 1920. The Polish-Bolshevik War has been going on for almost two years. The Battle for Korosteń – a key railway junction and technical-supply base – is underway.”
Available for free, and playable on PCs, mobile devices and VR goggles, the game has been described as a ground-breaking project that can be used as “a didactic tool during classes”.
Consisting of three missions, the game was designed to be as faithful to history as possible and based on source materials and historical exhibits to ensure accuracy.
Starting out in the Warsaw Citadel, the game then takes players to Korosteń (present-day Ukraine) where they are charged with cutting off Soviet forces from the military logistics hub positioned there.
Avoiding detection, they must steal top secret documents from an officer’s railway carriage before then beating the clock to derail an armoured train in a railway tunnel.
Released in April in both Polish and English language (the latter under the title of ‘Cyphers Game - War For Everything’), the game expertly tells of the course of the war as well as the “influence of Polish cryptology on its victorious finale”.
Meeting with largely positive reviews, international users have hailed it for its “compelling storytelling and amazing visuals” as well as its “astonishingly high production values for a free game”.
“I could even gush for hours about the music,” writes another critic, before adding, “this is not just a game, but a look into the past.”
Announcing the decision to incorporate the game into the curriculum late last week, the Minister of Education and Science, Przemysław Czarnek, said: “This is the next stage when it comes to modernizing Polish schools.”
Magdalena Hajduk, the director of IPN’s Office of New Technologies added: “The nanosecond culture and the needs and lifestyles of the younger generation – as well as the dynamic development of technology – make it necessary that we build new educational models that combine the real and digital world.
“We are proud that the Cyphers Game will serve teachers and stimulate young people to be inspired by the heroes of Polish history. We don’t just want to respond to the contemporary needs of young people, but to also educate and show that history is a great teacher of life values – the technologies we develop can help us learn its lessons.”
Part of a wider initiative titled Games in Education, Czarnek also used the opportunity to rubber stamp the inclusion of another game, This War of Mine, into the school curriculum as well.
Originally developed in 2014 by the Warsaw-based firm 11 Bit Studios, the game – which will be made available to older pupils – has subsequently scooped numerous awards not least for its unique perspective.
Justyna Orłowska, the Director of the GovTech Poland programme, used the occasion to promise that the government would explore the idea of funding Poland’s booming video games industry so long as development studios pitched projects of “high educational value” that would ultimately then be free of charge.