I love games and history, and I love learning history through the medium of games.
That’s why I’m enchanted with Fujian Trader, a game about Chinese merchant trading families in the 17th Century. It was inspired by co-designer Robert Batchelor’s own discovery of the Selden Map, a cartographic masterpiece from the early 17th Century.
From the Oxford Digital Library’s Treasures of the Bodleian:
Dating from the late Ming period, it shows China, Korea, Japan, the Philippines, Indonesia, Southeast Asia and part of India. The map shows shipping routes with compass bearings from the port of Quanzhou across the entire region. A panel of text on the left of the map near Calicut, its western extremity, gives directions of the routes to Aden, Oman, and the Strait of Hormuz. This is the earliest Chinese map not only to show shipping routes, but also to depict China as part of a greater East and Southeast Asia, and not the centre of the known world.
Here’s an excerpt from the Fujian Trader Kickstarter page:
Fujian Trader is a gateway strategy game based on a recently re-discovered 17th century trading map of East Asia uncovered in the archives of Oxford University’s library. The map, which is the oldest Chinese maritime merchant map still in existence, is currently touring East Asia, and is now considered one of Oxford’s greatest treasures. The map shows the routes used by Chinese traders across East Asia, and as a player you get to travel these routes once again. Fujian Trader’s co-designer Robert Batchelor, a professor of British History, is credited with finding the map and bringing it to the attention of geographers, historians and the greater public. Batchelor is on a mission – “I want to make the map and its rich history accessible and intriguing to a larger audience. I believe we can do this with Fujian Trader by getting players to learn about the map and experience its’ meaning through play.”
Learning history through play!
The campaign creators have put their money where their mouth is with a nominal $10 reward geared toward teachers, which includes a pdf download of their lesson plan for Fujian Trader, covering the history of the Selden Map and its impact on both Asia and Europe, and a stretch goal that would provide 100 free copies of the game and their East Asian geography and history lesson plan for middle schools.
That’s a strong commitment to education and learning through games.
If you like good and accurate historical games like I do, please take a few minutes to check out the Fujian Trader Kickstarter campaign. From what I’ve been able to glean from their game play videos and updates, Sari Gilbert and Robert Batchelor have designed a game worth backing.
FWIW, I have no vested interest in this game and I don’t know the creators. I’m simply eager to play this fascinating game and, in order for me to do so, their campaign must succeed!
Want to learn more about the Selden Map?
Read the articles from the Wall Street Journal or The Economist. You can also find out more at Oxford University’s site.