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


DiGRA/FDG ’16 – Proceedings of the 2016 Playing With History Workshop
Dundee, Scotland: Digital Games Research Association and Society for the Advancement of the Science of Digital Games, August, 2016
Number: 3
Volume: 13
ISBN / ISNN: ISSN 2342-9666

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.