It’s examination season right now in Malaysia, where school students, mostly 17-year-olds, have to sit in for the general examination at the end of their school years, the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM). In this day of age where social media is highly associated with most people’s social lives, especially Malaysians, stories of these students’ experience have been spreading.
But one particular story that has spread is an interesting one: a question in the History papers, that asked students to predict the future. Of the world.
This is interesting, as most of these exams would be formulaic- as the education system here focuses on exam results, so predictable questions are expected. Students are even trained to answer exam papers for preparation, where memorising patterns and texts will likely score better than having them understand.
Some reacted by saying it’s ridiculous to train students to be fortune tellers (more accurately “tok bomohs”), some acknowledge the push to make them be more visionary. Most agree this question is hard to tackle for students who are too used with drill training via mock exam papers.
As for me? I see a clear advantage for students who played videogames.
Videogames cover a variety of topics and themes, and some of them do relate with history. Games, like other media like books and films, have the ability to explore these themes in interesting ways, and a great way for the auteurs (as in, the writer, the director, or the team who handled game design) to express their thoughts and opinions. These takeaways can lead to intereting discussions, which is why Literature is discussed in schools.
Having said that, exposure to videogames can help in some ways, and with this specific question, there’s plenty of ways to approach this question just by using experience gained from videogames!
Understanding the Question
As I do not have info of the full set of questions, I do not know the context of the question. This is most likely about the World War (either WWI and WWII are covered in the syllabus, as far as I remembered) based on the other question above it. The pictures are clearly of nuclear warheads, drones, a fighter/bomber jet and some sort of anti-air unit.
This fits with the current trend about Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs) (basically nukes) and increased use of drones in warfare.
Now, with that knowledge, tackling this question is easy. Tell a story about videogames that has nukes and drones! Let’s start with the obvious.
War, war never changes.
With the advent of nuclear technology, tension will rise between super powers of the world. The nuclear missile is strong, much stronger than the atomic bombs that was dropped in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Those two have caused devastating damage already, to imagine a more powerful missile being dropped is unimaginable, until the bombs do drop. Although this never happened in the Cold War, current tensions between the USA and China may see a potential conflict to happen.
If such tensions continue to build up, China may take charge and annex Canada and moved on to claim Alaska. This triggers war, nuclear weapons are released, causing devastation and nuclear fallout, wiping billions of people, except those who had the opportunity to hide in nuclear shelters, or Vaults. Whatever is left of society on the surface devolves into ruthless tribes, scavenging for edible food and uncontaminated water. The future of a nuclear winter, is bleak.
Metal Gear Solid
(Note: I haven’t played the latest MGSV or even MGS4, but know enough of its lore to form an answer to the question. )
The push for advance technology on military weapons are costing nations financially. To justify the investments made for research and development of these tools of warfare, they must be used. How the US are now involving in plenty of wars, such as in Vietnam during the 60s, and the recent conflicts in the Middle East, is not just a show of power, it’s also a way to test out their military.
It will not be surprising for smaller nations to employ Private Military Companies (PMCs) as a cheaper solution to safeguard national defence. These independent contractors can develop military technology, creating advance weapons, and sell its services to anyone for a price, hence creating the war economy. Again, to justify its existence, as the war economy would not grow without war, any slight tensions or provocations can lead to small skirmishes, and may lead to full scale war.
PMCs are independent, unbound by laws, or ethics, which can lead to even more interesting technology to be developed, like Metal Gears, and solutions to increased health and longevity. The solution, in particular, can be applied to soldiers to increase their vitality to astronomical powers. In other words:
Call of Duty
The increase of drone usage has been helpful for soldiers to have a better tactical view on the battlefield. Armed drones are even more useful as they can act as support for the troops deployed in warzones. These advantages of warfare is wasteful if not used, which may lead to conflict that are just fabricated by some unknown entity, be it a nation, an independent PMC, or some clandestine organization.
These so-called terrorist group are made as the point to hereby utilise the advancements of warfare, such as exo-skeletons that enhances the mobility of soldiers, and body augmentations that are more stronger than normal human limbs.
But the future of the world may not be full of war, but full of people loving the idea of war. These technologies becomes fun toys for teens and young adults to play in their videogames, instead of playing pretend play of war like the children of the past. People can experience the gruesome, but awesome gunplay inspired by real-life military in the comfort of their homes. Plus, the talented few can make money of playing this, as games of military shooters are slowly recognised as e-sports.
Yes, don’t take these answers seriously. But some part of it do form a coherent argument that can be considered for marks, don’t you agree? Anyway..
There are more games that can inspire students to answer that 6 marks worth of a question, like personal favourite Civilization (super-powers wanting to “win”, be the greatest before the world collapse) and Command & Conquer. But these are just the gist of how someone who play videogames may tackle the question, as long as they were not shocked to face an open-ended, not in the textbooks kind of question that is.
And that’s what is supposed to make learning interesting! The problem with students feeling uninterested or not motivated to learn is that they may no even understand its importance, or could not find a real-life use and analogy of all the teachings, concepts, and theories relatable.
It’s why this is a good move on the people behind making these questions.
So, it’s okay to indulge in a little bit of entertainment, be it books, movies, videogames, or even manga and anime. The works may be mostly fiction, but fiction can inspire the future. People are still figuring out how to make holograms and hoverboards, and look at how many things the Back to the Future series had inspired.
Who knows? Your knowledge in popular culture may benefit you more than just 6 marks in a general exam.
P.S. To the teachers who are marking the papers, if you find answers you are marking having hints of these answers I written, you can safely assume that the student plays videogames.
[This article originally appeared on the author’s personal site, meckronos.wordpress.com]