Age of Empires III: Elements of New World History, Exploration, Discovery and Real-Time Strategy for 7th Grade History Students Written by Kathy Tollman Table of Contents



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BrainMeld Teaching Guide: Age of Empires III




Age of Empires III: Elements of New World History, Exploration, Discovery and Real-Time Strategy for 7th Grade History Students
Written by

Kathy Tollman

Table of Contents

Teaching Guide Overview 3

Age of Empires III Description 3

Using Age of Empires III in the Classroom 5

The Advantages of Teaching with Games 5

Goals and Objectives 6

Grade Level Standards and Content Area 6

Where the Game fits into the Curriculum 8

What Teachers Need to Know Before Beginning 9

Hardware Requirements 9

Lessons Overview 10

Lesson One 12



Lesson One Goals and Objectives 12

Lesson One Activity/Gameplay 13

Lesson One Extensions 13

Lesson Two 14



Lesson Two Goals and Objectives 14

Lesson Two Setup 14

Lesson Two Activity/Gameplay 14

Lesson Two Follow-up/Debriefing 15

Lesson Two Extensions 16

Teacher Resources 17

References 18

Appendices 19



Teaching Guide Overview


Imagine your students are at the edge of a brave New World; uncharted and hostile, yet beautiful and desirable. A New World, you, the teacher, has commissioned your students to explore and conquer. Your students arrive via the click of a mouse where they find a world full of colorful graphics, strategic scenarios and innovative game play rich in history and real-time scenarios that mimic your period of study in history. Welcome to a world called Age of Empires III (AEIII, 2005).

Using AEIII in the classroom will provide your students an entertaining and educational supplement to the 7th Grade History lesson curriculum, while providing an opportunity for students to experience life as it may have been during the age of exploration and conquering the Americas. AEIII will also encourage experiential learning through doing and provide lessons that are student driven and student-centered. AEIII will provide opportunities for students to make connections between game play and classroom learning and finally AEIII will provide opportunities for students to meet California state standards in History.


Age of Empires III Description


Title: Age of Empires III

Genre: Real Time Strategy

Platforms: PC, Mac, Wireless

ESRB: Teen: Blood & Violence

Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios

Developer: Ensemble Studios

Release Date: October 18, 2005

The Age of Empires III (AEIII) is a Real-Time Strategy (RTS) game that offers players the ability to explore, colonize and conquer from the Age of Discovery to the Imperial Age of the New World. AEIII offers a rich history and stunning graphics during these time periods that feature such things as, a European home city responsible for sending supplies to the troops of the New World, and New World settlers who work the land and maintain the colonies, trade routes and defend the colonies from tribes of Native Americans (Butts, 2005). AEIII features real-time combat with rifled infantry, cavalry and cannon-laidened ships ready to explore, defend and conquer the New World (Microsoft, 2010).



“The goal of AEIII is to build a powerful empire capable of conquering any and all enemy civilizations” (AEIII Quick Reference, 2005). To reach this goal, students have the opportunity to plan and strategize within five New-World ages including: Discovery, Colonial, Fortress, Industrial and Imperial ages. Students must train settlers to gather food and supplies to support the new colonies, and command an army to protect the colonies from the many tyrants of the time. Students explore, build and set up trade routes all for the benefit of growth and colonization.

In addition to planning and strategizing, AEIII offers students a history lesson in such things as commanding unique military units, ships, artillery and cavalry of the Spanish, British, French, Portuguese, Dutch, Russian, German and Ottoman military of the New World. For instance, Spanish military units utilized infantrymen called Pikemen, Musketeers, Crossbowmen, Rodeleros and Skirmishers and sailed ships known as Caravels, Galleons, Frigates and Monitors (AEIII Quick Reference, 2005).

AEIII offers students an exciting and fun environment in which to play and learn about the history of discovering, conquering and settling the New World; you never know where your opponents wait and you don’t know how they plan to attack which enables students to learn to adapt and grow their army, colony and specific resources fitting the current age of play (AEIII Quick Reference, 2005). Some people may argue that playing AEIII provides a lot of useless history trivia (Ultramarine, 2009), but if learning useless trivia in an exciting and fun environment grabs the student’s attention, then, let the games begin!

Using Age of Empires III in the Classroom


Why use AEIII in the classroom? Students today differ in significant ways from previous generations of students; they have literally grown up digitally. Students who have grown up digitally have cognitive learning styles that are significantly different from previous generations. These cognitive differences include the need for experiences that are fast-paced, graphic rich and on-demand (Simpson & Clem, 2008) and are the result of the experiences students are already having outside of the classroom while engaging in technology today.

Using AEIII in the classroom can provide students with a real-time historical experience that mimics the fast-paced, graphic-rich and on-demand experiences students are having by engaging them in a real-time historical experience that mimics those of the new-world era. Students will have the opportunity to experience strategizing and problem solving in a real-time 3-D environment that replicates the historical time period being studied. Additionally, AEIII enables students to utilize and experience the history of the new world era through real-time combat, trade, colonization and exploration.

The Advantages of Teaching with Games

Teachers often use games in their classrooms because they are perceived as fun, exciting and challenging by students. Video games are fun, exciting and challenging too, but addtionally offer students the opportunity to practice skills and simulate learning in a real-time, fact-paced, on-demand and graphic rich, 3D environment that engages the new cognitive learning styles of students today.

Video games offer fun and challenge that goes beyond memorization and pencil and paper study. Video games help develop problem-solving skills while students overcome obstacles to win the game. Video games enhance higher-level thinking skills by engaging students in simulations and role playing that demands clear thinking, problem solving and, when playing multi-player games, working collaboratively to strategize and win. Playing multi-player video games also help build communication and social skills through taking turns, talking to opponents and team mates and communicating just how to win the game. The biggest benefit to video games is motivation; students are motivated to play and playing provides the student with reasons to develop the skills necessary to win the game (Flemming, 2010).

Goals and Objectives


The goal of utilizing AEIII in the classroom is to provide an entertaining and educational supplement to the 7th Grade History lesson curriculum. Through game play students will have the opportunity to experience life as it may have been during the age of exploring and conquering the Americans, thereby enabling students to make connections between game play and classroom learning.

After successful completion of the lessons in this guide, students will be able to:



  1. Define the European home city and list the supplies sent by the European home city to support colonization and discovery of the Americas

  2. Define the purpose for and list the types of jobs settlers are given and trained in to support colonization and discovery

  3. List the five infantry positions within a Spanish military unit

  4. List the four ships utilized by the Spanish explorers during colonization

  5. List the three cavalry units by name that are unique to Spanish exploration during the Spanish discovery of the Americas

  6. List the four types of artillery used during skirmishes against opposing tyrants of the time

  7. Through a written essay, explain the purpose of exploring, building alliances with the Native Americans, setting up trade routes, engaging in battles, and, finally, the purpose of remaining in contact with the European home city

Grade Level Standards and Content Area


AEIII can be used to enhance the History curriculum in 7th grade. The focus of this curriculum is of a European power determined to explore, colonize, and conquer the New World and falls under the following state grade level standards and content taken from the 7th Grade History-Social Science Content Standards for California Public Schools (1998):

Historical Interpretation

1. Students explain the central issues and problems from the past, placing people and events in a matrix of time and place.

2. Students understand and distinguish cause, effect, sequence, and correlation in historical events, including the long - and short-term causal relations.

3. Students explain the sources of historical continuity and how the combination of ideas and events explains the emergence of new patterns.

4. Students recognize the role of chance, oversight, and error in history.

5. Students recognize that interpretations of history are subject to change as new information is uncovered.

6. Students interpret basic indicators of economic performance and conduct cost-benefit analyses of economic and political issues.

Standard 7.11

Students analyze political and economic change in the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries (the Age of Exploration, the Enlightenment, and the Age of Reason).



  1. Know the great voyages of discovery, the locations of the routes, and the influence of cartography in the development of a new European worldview.

  2. Discuss the exchanges of plants, animals, technology, culture, and ideas among Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Americas in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries and the major economic and social effects on each continent.

  3. Examine the origins of modern capitalism; the influence of mercantilism and cottage industry; the elements and importance of a market economy in seventeenth-century Europe; the changing international trading and marketing patterns, including their locations on a world map; and the influence of explorers and map makers.

  4. Explain how the main ideas of the Enlightenment can be traced back to such movements as the Renaissance, the Reformation, and the Scientific Revolution and to the Greeks, Romans, and Christianity.

  5. Describe how democratic thought and institutions were influenced by Enlightenment thinkers (e.g., John Locke, Charles-Louis Montesquieu, American founders).

  6. Discuss how the principles in the Magna Carta were embodied in such documents as the English Bill of Rights and the American Declaration of Independence.



Where the Game fits into the Curriculum


AEIII offers game play within eight different European civilizations. Students play among these civilizations and re-enact certain key differences in each of the eight economies and military strategies by using the different modes of combat, transportation, building and culture found during the specific civilization. As they play, students will be able to access only those technologies available to their civilization and only for the era they are currently playing in. As the student progresses through the game, more civilization specific technologies are made available.

Because each civilization has such specifics, students must have a general historical knowledge of each civilization prior to playing the game. By cognitively knowing what to expect prior to playing within a particular civilization, a student has the opportunity to experientially learn the intricacies of each civilization. To gain the most benefit from game play, students should have an introduction to the particular civilization’s European home city, trade, money, historical figures, types of infantry, cavalry, ships and artillery prior to playing the AEIII.

What Teachers Need to Know Before Beginning


It is highly encouraged that teachers become familiar with AEIII prior to students experiencing the game. Familiarization can come in the form of the AEIII user manual and quick reference guide that come with the AEIII software. However, the easiest way to learn AEIII is by using the tutorials found in the “Learn to Play” section of the main menu provided in the game’s software. In the Learn to Play section you’ll have the opportunity to practice the basic and advanced features of AEIII game by playing a practice scenario called “Master the Basics.” The game can feel rather overwhelming, but don’t worry, you’ll have the opportunity to play Master the Basics over and over again until you feel comfortable with the features of the game. Additionally, you’ll want to start a game and play it, not for 30 minutes, but for serveral hours to serveral days, especially if you’re a novice to video games.

For advanced players a list of hotkeys have been provided in the Appendix of this teaching which may provide useful as the teacher and students gain experience with AEIII. However, these hotkeys are not necessary for the beginning game play this teaching guide provides.

Hardware Requirements


AEIII offers three story-based campaign game modes: single-player skirmish, random map and online & LAN multiplayer mode. All offer excellent teaching and learning oportunities; however, for the purposes of this teaching guide, we will focus on the single-player skirmish mode. This mode requires each student have access to a computer with the following requirements:

System requirements:

Windows Operating Sytem



  • Windows XP or later

  • 1.4 GHz Intel or AMD processor

  • 256 MB RAM

  • 2 GB hard disk space

  • 64 MB graphics card capable of Hardware Transform & Lighting

  • Sound card with speakers or headphones

  • Internet access for online play only

  • Input – Keyboard & mouse

Mac OS X

  • Mac OS X v10.3.9 or later

  • 1.4GHz or faster PowerPC G4 or G5 or Intel processor

  • 512MB RAM

  • 64MB 3D graphics card

  • Sound card with speakers or headphones

  • Internet access for online play only

  • Input - Keyboard & mouse

Lessons Overview


Following the study of the establishment of English colonies during the age of discovery many students in American History have difficulty comprehending the obstacles and problems that had to be overcome to accomplish the founding of an early colony. Lessons one and two provide an opportunity for history students to gain experiential learning in the basic types of challenges that existed in the establishment of an early colony during the age of discovery.

The purpose of lessons one and two is to give students experience establishing specific tasks for colonies to engage in, such as gathering supplies and food sources, in an effort to provide a foundation in which a new colony can survive, and exploring the countryside for new trade opportunites, such as mines and trading posts, in order to begin building an economy of trade for the new colony to grow and expand in.

Lessons one and two meet the following state standards of hstorical interpretation.

1. Students explain the central issues and problems from the past, placing people and events in a matrix of time and place.

2. Students understand and distinguish cause, effect, sequence, and correlation in historical events, including the long - and short-term causal relations.

3. Students explain the sources of historical continuity and how the combination of ideas and events explains the emergence of new patterns.

4. Students recognize the role of chance, oversight, and error in history.

5. Students recognize that interpretations of history are subject to change as new information is uncovered.

6. Students interpret basic indicators of economic performance and conduct cost-benefit analyses of economic and political issues.

Both lessons will begin with a demonstration by the teacher and afterwards students will return to their own computers where they will practice. To begin, the teacher will instruct students to gather around the teacher’s computer and observe the teacher establishing tasks for the settlers and exploring the countryside for new trade opportunities. Once the teacher’s demonstrations have terminated, students will proceed to their own computers where they will begin practicing establishing tasks for the settlers and exploring the countryside for new trade opportunities.

After each lesson and after each student has accomplished both tasks, the teacher will hold a debriefing session to discuss the specifics of the student’s game play. Debriefing discussions will include such topic as, what types of food sources and supplies were available to settlers and what types of trade opportunities were available to early settlers. Students will discuss the types of obstacles settlers faced in obtaining these food sources, supplies and trade opportunites.

Prior to beginning lessons one and two it is important for the teacher to complete the following:



    1. Preload all computers with AEIII

    2. Provide students with a turtorial or demonstration on AEIII game basics such as how to move and employ a settler and how to explore and open up the gaming field.

    3. Allow students to play the “Learn to Play” section of AEIII prior to beginning all lessons, in order to establish a basic understanding of the game.

Because AEIII can be quite complicated, teachers should provide each student with a minimum time allotment of one hour to accomplish all lessons and tasks. During gameplay the teacher will wander through the classroom offering assistance and providing game play hints to each student as needed.

Lesson One


The purpose of lesson one is to provide students with a glimpse of what it was like for new colonies to obtain daily food sources and supplies in the new colony.

Lesson One Goals and Objectives


The goal of lesson one is to give students the experience of what daily life was like in the new colony. In Lesson One, students are given the task of gathering different types of food sources and supplies available.

Upon completion of Lesson one, students will be able to:



  1. List and describe food sources and supplies available to the settlers in the new colony by answering questions and writing an essay.

  2. List and describe how settlers gathered and obtained food sources and supplies in the new colony by answering questions and writing an essay.

Lesson One Setup

The teacher should review the history of the new colony including, the role of the settlers, explorers, food sources and supplies the students will come across during lesson one gameplay. The teacher should then provide a demonstration overview of gameplay prior to releasing each student to their own computers. Each student should be given a quick tour of how to move settlers, and assign the settlers jobs or tasks in order for students to have enough knowledge to navigate the game on their own. Teacher should ask for last minute questions and verify the students understand the directions and their tasks at play.


Lesson One Activity/Gameplay


Students will be gathered in a group to observe a demonstration by the teacher. The teacher will introduce the following moves:

  1. Left click on or drag a box over any settler you want to use or assign a job or task

  2. Right click on what you want the settler to do once they have been selected

  3. While gathered around the teacher’s computer, give each student the opportunity to practice each move: selecting a settler and assigning the settler a task

Once each student has demonstrated proviciency on the teacher’s computer, allow students to return to their own computer where they will begin assigning each of the new colony settlers a new task of gathering either food or supplies.

Lesson One Follow-up/Debriefing

At the end of gameplay, gather all students together in a group to discuss gameplay, the food sources and supplies available. Verbally discuss the following questions:



  1. What food sources were available to early new colony settlers?

  2. What supplies were available to early new colony settlers?

  3. What tools did the settlers use to gather food sources

  4. What tools did the setlers use to gather supplies?

  5. Why was gathering food and supplies important for the survival of the new colony?

Lesson One Extensions


After verbally answering the five questions above, each student will write a double-spaced, one-page essay describing their gameplay experience and relating their gameplay experience to the five questions above.

Lesson Two


The purpose of lesson two is to provide students with a glimps of what it was like for the settlers in the new colonies to explore the countryside for new trade opportunities.

Lesson Two Goals and Objectives


The goal of lesson two is to give students the experience of what daily life was like in the new colony. In lesson two students are given the task of exploring the countryside and discovering trade opportunities, such as mines and forming alliances with the Native Americans.

Upon completion of Lesson two students will be able to:



  1. List and describe the trade opportunities available to the settlers in the new colony by answering questions and writing an essay.

  2. List and describe the benefit of engaging in trade opportunities and forming alliances with the Native Americans for growing the economy in the new colony by answering questions and writing an essay.

Lesson Two Setup


The teacher should review the history of the new colony including, trade opportunities and forming alliances with the Native Americans the students will come across during lesson two game play. The teacher should then provide a demonstration overview of gameplay prior to releasing each student to their own computers. Each student will be given a quick tour of how to explore and open up the land and build a trading post at newly discovered trading sites by assigning settlers the job of building the trading post. Teachers will provide students with enough directions so they can explore and build on their own. Teacher should ask for last minute questions and verify students understand the directions and their tasks at play.

Lesson Two Activity/Gameplay


Students will be gathered in a group to observe a demonstration by the teacher. The teacher will introduce the following moves:

  1. Using the cursor to move the “camara” angle to the edges of the screen allowing for further exploration and opening the view of the land.

  2. Using settlers and explorers to open up the land by moving them to the edges of the seen land which will then expose and open up unseen land.

  3. Upon exploration and discovery of a mine, select a settlers to begin working the mine

  1. Upon exploration and discovery of a trade route, build a trading post by selecting the post in the game command center and placing it on the route. Once the trading post has been put into place, assign a settler to build the trading post.

  2. Upon exploration and discovery form an alliance with a newly discovered Native American settlement

  3. While gathered around the teacher’s computer, give each student the opportunity to practice each move: use the cursor to change the camara angle, explore the land by moving settlers and explorers, discover a mine and assign a settler and discover a trade route and assign a settler to build a trading post.

Once each student has demonstrated proviciency on the teacher’s computer, allow students to return to their own computer where they will begin exploring and discovering their own new colony, opening up the land, assigning settlers to work the mine and build trading posts on newly discovered trade routes.

Lesson Two Follow-up/Debriefing


At the end of game play, gather all students together in a group to discuss game play, the newly discovered trade routes and alliances formed with the Native American settlements. Verbally discuss the following questions:

  1. What trade opportunities were available to the new colony?

  2. Why was it important for the settlers and explorers to set up trade routes in the new colony?

  3. Why was it important for the settlers and explorers to form alliances with the Native Americans?

  4. What type of economy did the new settlers have?

Lesson Two Extensions


After verbally answering the four questions above, each student will write a double-spaced, one-page essay describing their game play experience and relating their game play experience to the four questions above.

Teacher Resources


Teachers can learn and further explore the basics of Age of Empires III from the following websites:

Age of Empires IIII (2009) Age of Empires III: Learn the Basics: http://ageofempiresiii.webs.com/thebasics.htm

Age of Empires III (2005) Game Features: http://www.ageofempires3.com/age3/GameFeatures/Default.aspx

Microsoft (2010). Age of Empires III: Overview: http://www.microsoft.com/games/pc/age3.aspx#screenshots



References


Age of Empires IIII (2009) Age of Empires III: Learn the Basics, Retrieved October 23, 2010 from: http://ageofempiresiii.webs.com/thebasics.htm

Age of Empires III (2005) Game Features. Retrieved October 16, 2010 from: http://www.ageofempires3.com/age3/GameFeatures/Default.aspx

Butts, S (2005) Age of Empires III: A New World Beckons. Retrieved October 3, 2010 from: http://pc.ign.com/articles/658/658624p1.html

California State Board of Education (1998). Grade 7 - History-Social Science Content Standards for California Public Schools. Retrieved October 17, 2010 from: http://www.cde.ca.gov/be/st/ss/documents/histsocscistnd.pdf

Flemming, S. (2010) The Advantages of Games in Teaching Children. Retrieved October 24, 2010 from: http://www.ehow.com/facts_6175837_advantages-games-teaching-children.html

Microsoft (2010). Age of Empires III: Overview. Retrieved October 3, 2010 from: http://www.microsoft.com/games/pc/age3.aspx#screenshots

Microsoft Corporation (2005). Age of Empires III: Quick Reference. Microsoft Game Studios Redmond, Washington

Simpson, E. & Clem, F. (2008) Video Games in the Middle School Classroom. Middle School Journal, Volume 39, Number 4. Retrieved October 24, 2010 from: http://www.nmsa.org/Publications/MiddleSchoolJournal/Articles/March2008/Article1/tabid/1627/Default.aspx

Ultramarine, (2009). Where Did You Learn That? Age of Empires… Retrieved October 3, 2010 from: http://vgc.zachwhalen.net/content/where-did-you-learn-age-empires%E2%80%A6

Appendices


Appendix A

Learn the Basics

Age of Empires III can be very difficult to understand if you're new to the game. The main objective is to conquer the new world by destroying your opponents civilization, this could mean military combat or 5 trade routes on certain maps which then count down a timer until you win the game if you keep the trade routes.

To play AEIII you have to left click and drag over any units you want to use then right click on what you want to do with them once they are selected, this could mean building, gathering resources or simply just moving them to a new location, the right click can also be used to collect treasures or attack other units or buildings. The idea is to get your settlers on resources (food, wood and coin) which you will need to buy, build, train and upgrade later in the game. The main game rules and very basic stuff if explained in the first campaign, learn to play.

Lastly, there is one more military thing you must know, certain units are better against other units than different unis like Halberdiers are amazing against cavalry, skirmishers are amazing against infantry like halberdiers, artilery are amazing against infantry like skirmishers and cavalry are amazing against artilery, it's a vicious circle (Age of Empires III, 2009).



Appendix B

AEIII Hotkeys – for advanced gameplay



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