Changing the Game: Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History to Debut Its First Educational Game App for iPad

February 20, 2015

The 150th anniversary of the end of the Civil War will mark the debut of the National Museum of American History’s first educational game app for iPad, “Ripped Apart: A Civil War Mystery.” The game embodies inquiry-based learning and invites players to immerse themselves in America’s tumultuous 19th century by exploring the photographs and belongings of mysterious characters from the past. Now available in the App Store

Within the game, players assume the role of a Smithsonian intern to solve puzzles, find clues, decipher documents and explore Cartes de Visite - small photographs collected and traded among family members and friends in the mid-19th century. The game’s story lines explore slavery and abolition, gender roles and political differences between the North and South to give players multiple perspectives on the causes, course, character and outcomes of the Civil War.

“The app for iPad aims to simulate the type of investigative work done by museum curators, fellows and interns and to provide players with the same thrill of discovery we experience when solving an historical mystery,” said Carrie Kotcho, director of education and outreach at the museum.

After solving their first historical mystery, players unlock a photo studio where they can create their own Carte de Visite and share it via social media. A companion website provides a behind-the-scenes look into the museum’s collections, the real stories behind the photographs used in the game and information on how to download the free app for iPad.

The “Ripped Apart” app was made possible by a grant from the Verizon Foundation and was developed by FableVision Inc.

The museum has declared 2015 the Year of Innovation during which it will inspire the next generation of inventors, innovators and entrepreneurs in 2015 through hands-on exhibitions, programs and performances focused on American innovation.

Through incomparable collections, rigorous research and dynamic public outreach, the National Museum of American History explores the infinite richness and complexity of American history. It helps people understand the past in order to make sense of the present and shape a more humane future. The museum is currently renovating its west exhibition wing and developing galleries on business, democracy and culture. For more information, visit The museum is located at 14th Street and Constitution Avenue N.W., and is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (closed Dec. 25). Admission is free. For Smithsonian information, the public may call (202) 633-1000.