As an alumnus of UCSD and having taken my first steps in computer programming at the UCSD Supercomputer Center (which provides researchers the computing, network, and human infrastructure needed to create, manage, and share data), I have kept up with their different projects involving computer technology and teaching.
They have just published a new interactive game called “Drama in the Delta” devoted to teaching young people about a historical period in American history often overlooked by students. The period was WWII and the action takes place within an internment camp where more than 100,000 Japanese Americans were living after having been forced from their Pacific Coast homes to “War Relocation centers” in the U.S. interior. Most of these internment camps were west of the Mississippi, but two were in Arkansas, in the Jim Crow South. Built in the impoverished southeast corner of Arkansas known as the Delta, the Rohwer and Jerome camps imprisoned some 15,000 people of Japanese descent. In a matter of weeks, in an area already rife with racial tensions, the barbed-wire enclosures became the state’s fifth and sixth largest cities.
Together with co-project director Amit Chourasia of the San Diego Supercomputer Center, who oversees a team of student programmers and artists, Roxworthy is turning one of the darker chapters of U.S. history into an educational and interactive game, one that not only teaches about the past (lest it be repeated) but also tacitly poses a difficult question that still resonates today: “Is it ever OK to compromise the civil liberties of some for the ‘good’ of the nation as whole?”
Click on the link to view their work: