Our Goals & About the Missions

The most recent National Assessment of Educational Progress showed that only 13% of eighth graders performed at or above the most basic level of proficiency in American history. Mission US aims to get students to care about history by seeing it through the eyes of peers from the past.

The goals of Mission US are to help middle and high school students:

  • Learn how Americans struggled to realize the ideals of freedom, democracy, and equality
  • Understand the role of ordinary men and women, including young people, in history
  • Develop historical empathy
  • Build understanding and critical perception to think like an historian

In each mission, players take on the role of a young person at a pivotal time as they meet historic figures, witness key events, grapple with multiple perspectives, make difficult choices, and experience consequences in a historical scenario with no easy answers. In doing so, they gain insight into how ordinary people shaped, and have been shaped by, our past.  Learn more about key hallmarks of Mission US and our development process here.

For Crown or Colony?

Image of Nat Wheeler from "For Crown or Colony?"This mission puts players in the shoes of Nat Wheeler, a printer’s apprentice in 1770 Boston. They encounter both Patriots and Loyalists, and when rising tensions result in the Boston Massacre, they must choose where their loyalties lie. Originally prototyped in 2007 and launched in 2010, this award-winning first game in the series was updated in 2018 and is now available online and as a free iPad app. Learn more:

Flight to Freedom

We are in the process of rebuilding Flight to Freedom and hope to have a beta version ready by late spring or summer 2022. The game won’t be publicly available until a later date (to be determined). For those who are interested in previewing and providing feedback on the beta, please reach out to us at missionus@thirteen.org to let us know you would like to be added to our reviewer list.

A Cheyenne Odyssey

Image of Little Fox from "A Cheyenne Odyssey"Players experience events as Little Fox, a Northern Cheyenne boy whose life is changed by the encroachment of white settlers, railroads, and U.S. military expeditions. As buffalo diminish and the U.S. expands westward, players experience the Cheyenne’s persistence through conflict and national transformation. Winner of the Games for Change Award for Most Significant Impact, this mission was developed in close collaboration with representatives of the Northern Cheyenne Tribe at Chief Dull Knife College, a tribally-managed institution on the Northern Cheyenne reservation in Montana. President Richard Littlebear and his colleagues consulted on educational content, scripting, design, and casting for the game, and all actors voicing the roles of the Northern Cheyenne characters are Northern Cheyenne themselves. Learn more:

City of Immigrants

Image of Lena Brodsky from "City of Immigrants"Players navigate New York’s Lower East Side as Lena, a young Jewish immigrant from Russia. Trying to save money to bring her parents to America, she works long hours in a factory for little money and gets caught up in the growing labor movement. Winner of an International Serious Play Awards gold medal, this mission was developed in partnership with the Lower East Side Tenement Museum, which consulted on historical content for the game and development of educators materials. The Museum building and its artifacts also served as models for design of the game’s locations, costumes, and props. Learn more:

Up from the Dust

Image of Ginny and Frank Dunn from "Up from the Dust"Players alternate between the roles of teenage twins Frank and Ginny Dunn, whose family wheat farm is devastated by the Great Depression and Dust Bowl. As they experience the hardships of the 1930s, players learn about Americans’ strategies for survival – as individuals, communities, and a nation. Winner of a Gold Parents’ Choice Award, Up from the Dust is available online and as a free iPad app. Learn more:

Prisoner in My Homeland

Image of Henry Tanaka from Prisoner in My HomelandPrisoner in My Homeland follows the experiences of teenager Henry Tanaka, whose family is forced to leave their home on Bainbridge Island, WA, for a prison camp in Manzanar, CA. Players grapple with the choices and challenges faced by more than 120,000 Japanese Americans as they coped with their unjust incarceration during World War II. The Mission US team collaborated closely with advisors and members of the Japanese American community to develop Prisoner in My Homeland. Densho, a digital archive that preserves oral histories and other primary source materials on the incarceration, consulted on content development for the game and its supporting educator curriculum guide. An advisory board of leading scholars and researchers of the history of the incarceration and members of the Bainbridge Island Japanese American Community guided development of the game’s historical content and narrative. Learn more:

No Turning Back

In No Turning Back, players step into the role of Verna Baker, a fictional African American teen from the Mississippi Delta. Through Verna’s experiences, the player learns about the challenges of life under segregation in the Jim Crow south and ways Black community members supported each other. Eventually, the player becomes a part of efforts by young people to organize around voter registration efforts. The game focuses on the important role that youth played in bringing about change during the 1960s civil rights movement, and remains very relevant today. The Mission US team worked with various advisors, including historical scholars, former SNCC (Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee) activists, Mississippi community members, experts in social justice pedagogy and youth development, and of course, teachers and students, to develop the game. Learn more:

A Note about Flash

The Mission US series was originally developed in Adobe Flash, a platform that was phased out in January 2021, but we are in the process of rebuilding the games in an updated Unity engine. For Crown or Colony?, A Cheyenne Odyssey, City of Immigrants, Up from the Dust, and Prisoner in My Homeland are already available in Unity, meaning they are accessible via web browsers on Macs, PCs, and Chromebooks. We have begun the process of rebuilding Flight to Freedom but do not yet know the timeline for its completion. If you are interested in previewing and providing feedback on the beta when it becomes available, please contact us at missionus@thirteen.org.


For more information about the games and supporting materials, visit the Help page.  Get updates about Mission US on Facebook and Twitter.  To share your feedback or for assistance, email us at missionus@thirteen.org.