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American History / Adventure Games

Mission US

Started in 2008 from the simple premise of making American history more engaging and accessible for middle school students and their teachers, Mission US has emerged to become the most used history game since Oregon Trail, with millions of student plays and over 50,000 registered teachers.

Mission US is a series of free online adventure-style games that cast players in the role of young people alive during extraordinary moments in American history. We have developed seven games in the series so far (with an eighth in the works), in collaboration with our partners at the American Social History Project at CUNY and WNET/Thirteen Public Media.

Quick Take

EFS Role / 

Game Design

Content Development

Software Engineering

Partners /

WNET New York Public Media

American Social History Project


Evaluation Partner /

Education Development Center (Center for Children & Technology)

Years / 


Funding / 

Corporation of Public Broadcasting, National Endowment for the Humanites, U.S. Department of Education (Institute of Education Sciences), National Park Service


The games have been played more than 1.5 million times since launch.

  • For Crown or Colony? It’s 1770. You’re Nathaniel Wheeler, a 14-year-old apprentice in Boston. When fighting starts, what will you do?

  • Flight to Freedom.  It’s 1848. You are Lucy King, a 14-year-old girl enslaved in Kentucky. Will you find a path to freedom?

  • A Cheyenne Odyssey. It’s 1866. You are Little Fox, a Northern Cheyenne boy. Can you help your tribe survive on the Plains?

  • City of Immigrants. It’s 1907. You are Lena Brodsky, a 14-year old Jewish immigrant from Russia. How will you start a new life in America?

  • Up from the Dust, It’s 1929. You’re one of the Dunn twins. When the Depression and Dust Bowl hit, can you help save the family farm? Also available as an iPad App.

  • Prisoner in My Homeland. The year is 1941. You are 16-year-old Henry Tanaka. When the government forces you and 120,000 other innocent Japanese Americans into camps, how will you react?

  • No Turning Back. The year is 1960. You are 16-year-old Verna Baker, born and raised in the Mississippi Delta. As you move to the city of Greenwood to start high school, a movement for civil rights is gaining momentum. How will you take part in the struggle for freedom and equality?


“Realistic,” “brilliant,” “ingenious,” “fascinating,” “a powerful game that all kids should experience.”

The branching storylines, each tied to your possible decisions, are brilliant in their diversity and ingenious in how they weave together to create the fascinating story path of this game. The story line is careful to reflect the history of the time and show it from multiple perspectives. From hearing spirituals being sung in the beginning of the game to Lucy's haunting voice at the end recalling her journey, this is a powerful game that all kids should experience.

Video (produced by WNET New York Public Media)
An introduction to Mission US and its use in the classroom.
Selected Awards
  • 2021 Japan Prize: Best Work in the Digital Media Division (The Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Prize) (for Prisoner in My Homeland)

  • 2021 International Serious Play Awards: Gold Medal Winner, K-12 Education (for Prisoner in My Homeland

  • 2019-20 Teachers' Choice Award, "For the Classroom" category. 

  • 2019 International Serious Play Awards: Gold Medal Winner, K-12 Education
    (for For Crown or Colony?

  • 2018 A Parents' Choice Awards: Winner, Gold Award (for Up from the Dust, mobile app)

  • 2017 International Serious Play Awards: Silver Medal Winner, 7-12 Education
    (for Up from the Dust

  • 2017 Daytime Emmy Awards: Nominee, Outstanding Interactive
    (for Up from the Dust)

  • 2016 Daytime Emmy Awards: Nominee, Outstanding Interactive Media – Original Program or Series (for City of Immigrants)

  • 2015 International Serious Play Awards: Gold Medal Winner, Education
    (for City of Immigrants

  • 2014 Games for Change: Winner, Most Significant Impact (for A Cheyenne Odyssey)

  • 2014 A Parents' Choice Awards: Winner, Gold Award

  • 2013 Japan Prize: Winner, Minister of Foreign Affairs Prize for Best Work in the Youth Category (for Flight to Freedom)

  • 2012 International Serious Play Awards: Gold Medal Winner, Education

Full awards, reviews and user testimonials here.

Mission US: A Cheyenne Odyssey brings to life many of the challenges and choices that faced the Cheyenne people in the late 1800s... This is a way for kids to understand the perspective of Native Americans as they fought to retain their way of life. Also, the game presents a clear point of view that isn't always captured in the classroom... It's a great starting point for dialogue and a chance for kids to do a lot of critical thinking.

Yes, Mission US: Flight to Freedom is a video game. And not just any video game. A great video game.


Flight to Freedom helps students learn how enslaved people’s choices – from small, everyday acts of resistance to action that sought an end to slavery – affected not just the lives of individuals but the nation as well. Students also practice a wide variety of historical thinking skills while playing the game – historical context, cause and effect, primary source analysis, literacy skills, and foundational vocabulary – while learning more about the system of slavery and the movement that worked to abolish that system.

Recent Updates

Summer 2023, technical upgrade of all missions to Unity 2021 LTS: Get ready for faster load times and lots of other fixes and improvements!

Spring 2023, Mission 8: Spirit of a Nation started: With funding from NEH, we started design work on our next release, this time going back to the 16th and 17th centuries...

Winter 2022, Mission 7: No Turning Back released.

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