I was attending graduate school in Virginia when The New World was being filmed in Jamestown. Many of my classmates, who also happened to be actors, were extras in the 2005 film about John Smith and Pocahontas. While the film wasn’t a box office smash, it was still neat to watch Colonial America unfold on the big screen and wonder: “Could I succeed? Would I have made it?


Maryland Public Television’s new website Succeeding in the New World: Colonial America, allows students to uncover the history of the four key settlements – Plymouth, New Amsterdam, Jamestown, and Roanoke – and ask the question: Am I prepared for the New World?

Page-by-page, students can click through maps, learn about the trans-Atlantic journey, explore the settlements, and then use that information to build their own settlement. 


In addition to the graphics and interactive map, FableVision built the Build Your Settlement interactive. In the game, the player travels to the New World with a group of 100 colonists. The player must prepare for the journey and design a settlement. The next step is to spin the wheel and face the challenge – hurricane, blizzard, drought, or flood – and then discovers how the settlement handled the natural disaster. Much like reality, the game is tricky as you might prepare for a blizzard but be hit by a flood. Students can always go back and change their settlement to hopefully withstand the next natural disaster. 

While Succeeding in the New World doesn’t star Christian Bale and Colin Farrell, the website offers an online place for students to journey back in time to the New World.