1 University of Patras (GREECE)
2 University of Patras & CTI Diophantus (GREECE)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2020 Proceedings
Publication year: 2020
Pages: 8649-8657
ISBN: 978-84-09-24232-0
ISSN: 2340-1095
doi: 10.21125/iceri.2020.1917
Conference name: 13th annual International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 9-10 November, 2020
Location: Online Conference
In this work, we suggest an online serious, ergodic game for exploring European history. Our suggestion, as a game, has fun. However, it moves beyond that towards attracting attention to European history and its understanding. Moreover, playing the game requires non-trivial effort to traverse a successful route.

All users having an internet connection and an inherent interest in history can play. Completing the game involves firm understanding of important, crucial milestones of human evolution, which appear, as well, in the historical evolution of the European continent and its people. Usually, history courses focus on detailed descriptions of the course of events rather than on clearly presenting causes and consequences. Thus, they fail to capture attention and do not obtain a truly educational contribution.

Motivated by the extremely significant role essential knowledge of history can play in the contemporary global scene, we designed and implemented a game based on a well-known graph-theoretic computationally-hard problem: the Hamiltonian cycle problem. In graph theory, the objective of the Hamiltonian cycle problem is to determine whether a Hamiltonian cycle exists in a given graph, i.e., whether there exists an undirected or directed path that visits each vertex of the graph exactly once, with the only repeated vertices being the first and last.

But how a dodecahedron, a platonic solid, can bring together history and graph theory? Back in 1857, William Rowan Hamilton invented a mathematical game, known as the icosian game, whose objective is to find a (Hamiltonian) cycle along its edges so that every vertex is visited exactly once and the start vertex is the same as the end vertex.

Herein, we formulate a European history course as a game evolving on a dodecahedron. Vertices correspond to crucial questions with a non-trivial yes/no answer (represented by an edge), and the objective of the game is to successfully walk on an underlying Hamiltonian cycle by providing the correct answers.

The game is implemented exploiting the h5p javascript-based, open-source content collaboration framework, as well as the free, open-source content management system (CMS) Wordpress, developed in php and paired with a MySQL database. The game is responsive, i.e., it displays uniformly and correctly on various screen sizes, devices and platforms.

Our work showcases how graph theory and its application to real world scenaria can usefully promote, exploit and disseminate computational thinking in education and humanities.
Serious game, ergodic game, Hamiltonian cycle problem, European history learning, icosian game, dodecahedron.