Two weeks ago, I argued the case for an educational visit to Rapture. Last week, I set my sites on Neo-Paris. The third video game location I have in mind would probably make for the best school trip ever.
Practically every subject is potentially covered in this game location. Not only that, but this location is absolutely spectacular; if I could choose to visit any game location, for educational reasons or not, this would be my ideal destination. As with the two previous school trip proposals, this discussion implies that any excursion should be organised before the events of the game in question; it's just safer that way.
A School Trip to the Citadel (Mass Effect)
Even the best school trips need to be advertised to the students. During an assembly, lesson time or via a letter sent home to parents, young learners may need to be convinced to join your expedition. However, I'm almost entirely certain that when advertising for the Citadel trip, you'll have every spot filled after the first sentence: "So, this year we're going into space…"
In the unlikely event that students are somehow unimpressed by the notion of galactic travel, images of the Citadel itself would sway them. The site of the humongous space station (roughly 8kms by 44km!) inhabited by representatives of the major species in the galaxy, should rocket the socks from their feet. This ancient-yet-futuristic structure is also a cultural, political and social hub of the Milky Way. Of course, there is no conceivable way that your students would be able to visit the whole Citadel during their stay; whether your group visits the central 'ring', or one of the five attached 'fins', would depend on the subject of your visit.
As with Rapture and Paris (I can't keep calling it Neo-Paris…) this spot in the Mass Effect games is ideal for a school trip even if you don't have a particular subject in mind. Each part of the Citadel is ordained with a plethora of parks, recreational areas, entertainment facilities, shops and restaurants to keep everyone amused. There's the daily possibility of bumping into a political or media celebrity, and the views alone are constantly inspiring. Whilst parents might worry about sending their children into space, you can assure them that there is nowhere safer in the galaxy. If any threat approaches the Citadel, the five arms of the space station will close together, safely securing the civilians inside.
The only disappointment that your students may encounter will occur when they try to ask anyone anything about the Citadel – where it comes from, how it works – because no one will be able to tell them anything. Only one species still knows the ins-and-outs, and they are keeping quiet.
Is the Citadel relevant to your subject?
Art: The Citadel is beautiful. Whether it's the architecture of the Space Station or the sculptures decorating the hallways or the variety of decadent clothing styles, finding artistic inspiration is all too easy.
Business Studies: Big businesses on the biggest Space Station in the Milky Way. The chance to witness commerce on a galactic level will also look great on a young person's C.V.
Citizenship: The major civilizations all colliding and colluding with each other within this star-bound megacity. Students will appreciate just how the laws and ideologies from across the solar systems can operate alongside one another.
Design and Technology: We might not be able to understand how the whole thing works, but students will marvel at the layout and construction of this almighty monument to an ancient civilization. Just be careful around those Duct Rats!
History: Alongside all the spoken language, there is a planet-load of reading available on The Citadel. Whatever you want to know about any civilization, past or present, the information is stored and preserved in the Space Station. Why study the History of just one species?
Language and Literature: Every species on the Citadel seems to be speaking an Earth language. In fact, what's apparently happening is the Omni-Tool affixed to the arm of each inhabitant is instantly translating everything. Presumably, it's also making it appear like the speaker's mouth parts are moving in time with the words they aren't really speaking. Convenient plot points aside, a trip to the Citadel will open the minds of all Language and Literature students. Whilst the alien's words are being translated, the grammar and syntax is often very different. For example, students understanding of how language works will benefit from a long conversation with the Hanar. This one enjoys seeing English being used in odd ways. If the students want to study Alien Languages, they can just turn the Omni-Tool off. Risks include accidentally insulting a Krogan.
Law: Students can visit the Citadel Council and discover how Laws and ideas are created and enforced across the civilized galaxy.
Maths: Currency Conversion and Foreign Exchange Rates are complicated enough on Earth. Let's see how businesses, banks and whole nations trade on a larger scale.
Media: News Reporters work hard on the Citadel, interviewing politicians and celebrities with the help of a nifty hover camera. Students could accompany these journalists, watching them at work, learning the tricks of the trade, occasionally dodging an unexpected punch from an interviewee…
Science: The whole place exists because of science. It's built within a Science Fiction world. There are hundreds of Science laboratories dotted around the station. Biology students will find fascination in the study of other species, Chemistry student minds will boggle at how different life forms are able to live, eat and breath in the same environment and Physics students will marvel at how though species actually got there. It's all there because of science.
The Citadel is the number one game location on my list of places to visit. The educational value is a major part of that desire. The space station is an inexplicable, awe-inspiring place that the three Mass Effect games have only partially revealed, and I want to see more. If students can come with me, that's a big bonus.
If you have your own ideas on what would make a great school trip to video game world, please give your suggestions. If you could organise/embark on a school trip to a video game location, where would you go? Many readers have already left compelling ideas of their own in the last two weeks. You should definitely give those a read: