Public History, Game Communities and Historical Knowledge

Webber Nick
2016 DiGRA/FDG ’16 – Proceedings of the 2016 Playing With History Workshop

In considering history and video games, great emphasis is placed on the ways in which historical information can be encoded in game content as a route to fostering an engagement with the past, and with historical narratives. This paper proposes that more attention should be paid to the communities which form around games, and to the historical activity which arises organically within those communities, particularly those which form around persistent massively multiplayer online games. The ideas of public history can be drawn upon to understand how this historical activity functions, and how it might be valued as a form of engagement not only with the past of those playing, but with the practices of history more generally, and with historical concepts such as truth, bias and authenticity.


Playing with Herstory. Representing Femininity in Historical Video Games

Elisabeta Toma Cosima Rughiniș
2016 DiGRA/FDG ’16 – Proceedings of the 2016 Playing With History Workshop

We propose a set of six topics of inquiry into historical games as regards their feminine characters, and we illustrate them through an analysis of This War of Mine, Valiant Hearts and 80 Days. Historical games may include documented historical characters and fictive characters as well; the latter may aim to represent a type of real persons, or may be individualized as a purely fictional character. We argue that This War of Mine, Valiant Hearts and 80 Days have both strong and weak points in their construction of feminine characters, when taking into account the proposed set of indicators.


The fortress of Monemvasia as playground for a location based game

Sintoris Christos Yiannoutsou Nikoleta Avouris Nikolaos
2016 DiGRA/FDG ’16 – Proceedings of the 2016 Playing With History Workshop

This paper reports on an ongoing study of the long-term deployment of a location-based mobile game “If … in Monemvasia”. The game is played by groups of pupils that visit the historical fortress town Monemvasia in the south east Peloponnese, Greece. The players traverse the town and associate specific sites with role playing missions. The game was designed to promote understanding the history of the fortress town by the players. In the paper, we discuss the integration of historical knowledge and describe the gameplay in order to depict the incorporation of aspects of the town's history in the game.


History, biography and empathy in Inkle’s ‘80 Days’

Răzvan Rughiniș Matei Ștefania
2016 DiGRA/FDG ’16 – Proceedings of the 2016 Playing With History Workshop

Inkle’s ‘80 Days’ offers players the chance of an unusual experience of history. The game combines a layer of historical events and characters with a layer of steampunk science-fiction, using the later as a magnifying glass to highlight minority perspectives and experiences. At the same time, 80 Days merges two views on the relation between biography and history: the player remains a witness, while non-player characters are deeply immersed in making and remaking histories. These dual structures make ‘80 Days’ into a strong resource for discussing the interplay between history and biography, and appealing to history as a resource for empathy.


The SEGA and Microsoft History of India: The British Raj in Videogames

Mukherjee Souvik
2016 DiGRA/FDG ’16 – Proceedings of the 2016 Playing With History Workshop

This paper addresses the treatment of colonial history in videogames, particularly in empire-building strategy games such as Empire: Total War and Age of Empires 3. The aim is to address the lack of plurality in the portrayal of history in videogames and also to bring up postcolonial theory as yet another point of departure via which it is possible to explore the potential of digital games as a medium for promoting diversity and a more nuanced and representative way to think through history critically. To do so, a framework of postcolonial historiography, which has been in place in other related Humanities disciplines for decades now, has been introduced and employed to challenge historical notions that promoted an orientalist mono-narrative to describe the histories of erstwhile colonies such as India. Through the portrayal of the British Raj in videogames, this paper makes a broader point about the need to reflect postcolonial and plural voices in historical commentary in games.


Archaeological Storytelling in Games

Livingstone Daniel Louchart Sandy Jeffrey Stuart
2016 DiGRA/FDG ’16 – Proceedings of the 2016 Playing With History Workshop

Digital games have been increasingly recognized in recent years for their existing and potential contributions as a medium for promoting engagement with history and cultural heritage. Rather than focus on how games can help the public engage with a known (to scholars) past, here we consider instead how the core problems and processes of archeology themselves might be applied as a story-telling technique in games. We consider what this might look like in games and contrast with archeogaming, existing environmental storytelling approaches and examples. Finally, we consider how these techniques could also be applied to developing games to support students learning about archaeology and material culture.


OFabulis and Versailles 1685: a comparative study of the creation process behind video games on historical monuments

Lelièvre Edwige
2016 DiGRA/FDG ’16 – Proceedings of the 2016 Playing With History Workshop

This paper explores the specificities of the creation process behind video games focusing on historical monument through the comparison between two point-and-clicks: OFabulis and Versailles 1685. The study is based on the authors’ interviews, log books and work documents. The comparison seems to reveal that three elements are inherent to this type of video games: participation of cultural institutions in the game design right from the start, leading scenario with compromises between history and fiction, ad hoc multimedia systems with limited gameplay and realistic rendering.


The Challenges of using Commercial- Off-the-Shelf Narrative Games in History Classrooms

Eberhardt Richard Caldwell Kyrie Eleison
2016 DiGRA/FDG ’16 – Proceedings of the 2016 Playing With History Workshop

As part of an Arthur Vining Davis-funded project conducted by the MIT Education Arcade, the author designed a lesson plan for a Lynn, MA teacher’s 9th grade World History class, focused on the beginning of her World War 1 unit. This plan utilized a commercial, offthe- shelf game, The Last Express (Mechner 1997), originally developed and published for entertainment purposes. The lesson plan was developed to test the feasibility of using storybased narrative games with historical elements as a prelude to a critical writing exercise. The test was to see how students reacted to the game, both as a gameplay exercise and as a source of content, and whether students would be able make logical connections between the game and their other non-game classwork. This paper outlines the research that went into designing this lesson plan and identifies challenges educators might face bringing these games into their classrooms.


Tell-A-Dyrham-Tale, a Storytelling board game

De Angeli Daniela O'Neill Eamonn
2016 DiGRA/FDG ’16 – Proceedings of the 2016 Playing With History Workshop

Games are a well-established technique to promote dialogue, social interaction and engaging experiences. In particular, cards games can support the creation of creative and coherent narratives (Roussou et al., 2015). Based on famous storytelling board games such as Once upon a time and Tell-a-tale, we developed Tell-a-Dryham-Tale, a card game, to investigate the potential of games as a tool for the collaborative creation of narratives for Dyrham Park, a 17th Century National Trust heritage site in the UK. We ran a series of game sessions, which revealed visitors preference for particular historical information and stories. This data is informing the narrative of a subsequent Augmented Reality (AR) interactive experience that is in development.


Playing with History’s Otherness. A framework for exploring historical games

Cruz Martínez Manuel Alejandro
2016 DiGRA/FDG ’16 – Proceedings of the 2016 Playing With History Workshop

In this paper, I present a provisional framework for analysing and exploring historical games based on identity/alterity theorizations. Using this approach, I situate history in different roles exploring multiple dimensions of identity/alterity. I propose an application of these dimensions to analyse how games represent historical themes and convey specific discourses. I will argue that similar frameworks that aim to deconstruct history are pertinent tools for exploring the medium’s potential as they allow deeper insights on historical representations and unveil new designing perspectives. In this sense, I use this approach to identify unique characteristics of games that could challenge specific discourses, adventuring how games can add further historical reflections, reaching creative and critical interpretations of the past. While the framework presented here requires further development, I hope this paper will encourage debate on the applicability of critical approaches as tools for the design of subversive historical games.