While lecture efficiently conveys fact-based historical narrative, it also encourages passive learning, and does little to engage students in critical thinking. Because fact-based historical narratives are the least conceptually challenging to understand, GWH students listen to video recorded lectures outside of class.
The brick-and-mortar classroom is where students can safely learn to take risks. Critical thinking is difficult and anxiety-producing: it is best undertaken by groups of students directly engaged with course materials with the support of an attentive facilitator. Students learn to take analytical risks by attempting to put core course concepts into practice during game play. They hypothesize then test solutions to game puzzles; they examine causation, they dissect "failure" and plot game-corrections. In-class analysis is central to creating indelible links between game content, real world historical examples, core concepts and theories.
GMW students keep a bi-weekly journal. Writing prompts organize student thinking, and requires them to bare their internal logical processes during game play, and as they synthesize course material during group projects. This is a critical element of tracking the individual student's interior-monologue and progress during group projects.
Each game module is situated within an imaginary world whose regions are differentiated by geographic, ecological, and climatic conditions. Students interact with this world as Gatherers and Hunters, as small scale farming villagers, and in the final module, as various Imperial officials struggling to manage the socio-historical forces that threaten the state. During game-play, students populate this imaginary world with the cultural and historical artifacts that speak to the human condition. They use these artifacts as primary data to perform a cultural and political-economic history of their world.