Analysing Cultural Heritage and its Representation in Video Games

Balela Majed S. Mundy Darren
2015 DiGRA '15 - Proceedings of the 2015 DiGRA International Conference

This paper outlines research towards strengthening our understanding of the representation of cultural artifacts in video games. The approach described outlines steps towards utilising a framework using dimensions of cultural heritage as reference points for games analysis. This framework is then used as a mechanism to analyse two games: Assassin’s Creed I and Unearthed: Trail of Ibn Battuta. The case study analysis presents concerns regarding cultural representation in the selected games. This is followed by a discussion of the main concerns coming out of the analysis. These concerns are effectively grouped under five sections: ‘cultural appropriation’; ‘hollywoodisation and beautification’; ‘selectivity’; ‘game dynamics rule design decision’; and ‘ideological constraints’. The research raises issues about how video game designers approach the inclusion of items with cultural meaning in their products. Next stages in the work involve interviewing of games designers to better understand how the design decisions presented in this paper occur.