Earn College Credit For Playing Age of Empires 4 (UArizona)

age of empires 4 university of arizona

Age of Empires is a famous real-time strategy (RTS) game with many correct historical depictions. In the latest game in the series, Age of Empires 4, students can get college credit for playing and then passing a test.

Age of Empires IV gamers will be able to interact with particularly unique educational resources at ageofempires.com beginning in early 2022; the said material, which aims to support the historical storytelling observed in the Age of Empires IV campaign, was created by two delegates of the University of Arizona Department of History. The two masterminds behind this project are associate professor of medieval history Paul Milliman and department head Alison Futrell, an associate professor of Roman history. Participating in this particular material would enable gamers to earn one academic credit at the University of Arizona, depending on their admission status.

Entrance to the “University of Arizona enhanced experience” will be highlighted in the game’s Community Tab in early 2022 and will direct gamers to ageofempires.com, where they’ll discover an orientation portal, such as steps necessary for earning college credit, and also associated components called “Illuminated Histories,” written by Futrell and Milliman. This extra material was created to complement the single-player campaign.

The idea was really exciting, to put together lessons in a different kind of framework and with a public-facing opportunity to engage in a really dynamic way with this material. And, of course, having a household name like Microsoft involved really lent it credibility and energy. One of my fields of research is actually the way in which the ancient past has been revisited in different kinds of media in more recent times, specifically in performance and in movies, but also novels and advertisements and things like that.

Futrell said
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Alsion Futrell (left) and Paul Milliman (right)

Age of Empires 4 UArizona Course Contents

There are four story-based campaigns based on important events in the medieval period that are included in the credit course: 

  • Norman conquest of England
  • Hundred Years War between England and France
  • Expansion of the Mongol Empire
  • Moscow’s journey to becoming a new superpower

Requirements and Conditions of Credit Hours via Age of Empires

Participants need to submit an online exam about what they learned from the UArizona material after finishing all significant storylines over the game’s four campaigns. Passing that exam will grant students one credit hour, which will be credited pending acceptance to UArizona. College credit is only awarded upon acceptance to UArizona. Nonetheless, the extra information on ageofempires.com is available to all visitors for free. 

However, to participate in this you need to have the game, which essentially means buy the game. Aspirants must have the Age of Empires IV game on any of these stores/pass:

  • Steam
  • Microsoft Store
  • Xbox Game Pass for PC or Ultimate subscriptions; all players must be signed into the game using an Xbox Live account.

At first, the idea wasn’t going forward because the business lead at Microsoft’s World’s Edge game studio didn’t think of this as valuable enough. However, after playing the campaign and talking about Normans with the narrative designer of the game changed his mind.

The Age of Empires franchise has been building a community of history enthusiasts since its inception. With our latest installment, Age of Empires IV, the teams at World’s Edge and Relic decided to double down on what we call ‘Humanized History’ where we allow players to live out real historical events through gameplay. University partnership wasn’t our initial goal but the first time I played the campaign, it sparked a 20+ minute conversation about the Normans with our narrative designer. I realized we needed to get this in the hands of students, and Kara and the U of A history team were critical partners in bringing that vision to life. I’m excited and I think students will be pleasantly surprised by this unique approach to learning history.


Let us know what you think about this move and if it should be adopted by other American universities.

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