Social Studies Simulates Africa Scramble

Joelle Nelson, Staff Writer

Students in Matt Bostick’s Modern World History class became familiar with the race between European Powers to conquer and colonize Africa through an interactive game from December 14-17. Students were placed in groups which represented various countries of Europe and given “power” cards and “force” cards in order to lay claim to as many resources in Africa as possible.

The amount of power and force differed from country to country, accurately simulating the military and economy of each government. For instance, Germany, a strong military force of the time, held 70 power points. In comparison, the small country of Belgium possessed only 30 power cards. Freshman Katelyn Poole, who represented the small country of Portugal, said, “Having not as much power or force as the other countries made it much harder for my team to succeed.”

Power cards could be used like money. Countries could place bids for territories or make trades with other representatives. One “minister” was chosen from each group to discuss deals and treaties with other countries. Treaties could be written or unwritten, but if a country broke a written treaty the penalty was 5 power cards and 1 force card.

A valid treaty had to be signed by all members of both parties and given to Bostick during stage 2. In stage 2 of the game, power cards could be traded for force cards and vice versa. The most important part, signing and turning in proclamations by a country to lay claim to a territory, happened in stage 2. 3 proclamations could be submitted by each country each round.

In stage 3, Bostick validated treaties and proclamations in the order that they were submitted. Both were only valid if they had been signed by all members.

After Bostick read a proclamation, another group could use a force card to block that claim. Then the territory either went to auction to be given to the highest bidder,  purchased in power cards, or the country that had their claim blocked could counteract the block with a force card of their own.

This continued until the territory was taken and could not be reclaimed.

The value of territories was determined by their resources or mass, as the students had previously mapped out eacb with an atlas. In general, more powerful countries like Britain and Germany were able to lay claim to the most land.

Freshman Maya Miramontes, who represented the relatively weak country of Belgium was not as enthusiastic as some of her peers. “I don’t really like history games. I’m not very good at them,” she said.

The intention was to introduce the concept of imperialism, the control or domination of one land by another, and to teach students about the so-called Scramble for Africa.

Poole said, “I thought it was really great. It involved everyone and taught you what it was really like during the ‘scramble.'”