We’ve been very clear (we hope!) about the fact that Meriwether isn’t edutainment. And yet, here we are offering “Scholarship” editions. How do those two things fit together?
We begin with a basic premise: almost all educational video games are terrible. Just unplayably bad. For every good game like Oregon Trail and Carmen Sandiego that exists, thousands of pedantic, transparent, and woefully unfun offerings litter the field of educational video games.
Why should this be? We at Meriwether believe the problem is that edutainment treats the “game” part of “educational game” as secondary. And that’s where they go wrong. That’s why with Meriwether, we’re working hard to create a great game rooted in the amazing history of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. We are crafting the game based on the team’s collective experience in making games, as well as everything we as a team have learned after a lifetime of playing them. If you happen to learn something along the way, well, that’s your own fault.
Seriously though, there’s a reason why games like Mass Effect and Skyrim have such detailed and richly-presented worlds. The settings of those games are what give meaning and power to the actions players take through the gameplay. Would there have been such controversy around Mass Effect 3’s ending if players hadn’t grown to care passionately about the people, places, and events that the game created over a period of years? No way!
That’s what we want to do for Meriwether: we want to offer players a combination of great gameplay and great storytelling that will make them fall in love with this world. The only difference will be that, instead of inventing a history from the ground up, the way fantasy and science fiction games must, we have based our world on the best historical research we can muster about the Corps of Discovery’s journey. When players finish the game, those people, places and events will stay with them, just as much as our fond memories of other game worlds stay with us.