KON TUM — Games are one of the oldest forms of entertainment. Phan Thanh Thanh and Nguyen Van The who are studying at Nguyen Tat Thanh High School in Kon Tum City have created a computer game that gives participants a history lesson while they play.
|Link to the past: Phan Thanh Thanh (right) and Nguyen Van The attend the awards ceremony of the seventh Nationwide Creative Competition for Youth and Children in Ha Noi. — VNA/VNS Photo Phuoc Tuan
Vua Co Lau (Reed Flag King) won them a special prize at the seventh Nationwide Creative Competition for Youth and Children organised by the Viet Nam Fund for Supporting Technological Creations last year.
It is based on the life of Dinh Bo Linh, a boy who went from playing make-believe games with his friends to being crowned King Dinh Tien Hoang in 968. The name of the game came from a story about the king when he was a boy. He sat in a palanquin held by his friends and they used reeds as flags to lead the way for him, just like a ceremony for a king, and this was the reason that Linh was given the nickname, Vua Co Lau.
Game players take on the role of Linh and learn about his life. "Players can experience his whole life in three parts: his childhood, pacifying 12 powerful warlords and unifying their territories, and ascending to the throne," Thanh said.
Besides providing a valuable history lesson, the game offers players a chance to decide how they would have ruled Linh's kingdom using plans and strategies. "Each player can choose when they want to take military action and when they want to make peace with other countries," The explained.
Thanh said that there was a connection between the game and reality. For example, helping poor people in the game made students think about lending a hand to disadvantaged people in real life, he added.
The idea for the game stemmed from the fact that not many young people are interested in history anymore. In 2009, the two friends started looking into suitable historical characters to base the game on, and learned how to use gaming software. "We decided to create a game that helped players understand more about Vietnamese history. We discussed what historical period and character to use, before eventually settling on Dinh Bo Linh because he was the first king of Viet Nam after nearly 1,000 years of Chinese domination [179 BC-AD 938]," Thanh recalled.
They wrote the content for the game in last summer. Thanh was in charge of graphic design and sound while The was responsible for coding. Some of the work had to be redone because it was not compatible with the other, but they finally finished a version of the game that ran smoothly in June last year.
The game, written in three months, won Thanh and The first prize in a provincial scientific creative contest. When asked the reason why they had chosen to develop games rather than application software, Thanh said: "I like playing games and my friends do, too. We were bored of using educational software."
The 18-year-olds both dream of creating more games based on national heroes to provide youngsters with a useful pastime. In the future, they want to improve Vua Co Lau and develop another game about Hai Ba Trung, two heroines that fought against northern invaders in AD 40. — VNS