Theory, design, research,and use of historical games in and beyond history education. Look here for links to current research, lists of available historical video games, reviews, and essays on a variety of topics connected to historical games. Created and maintained by Jeremiah McCall (; @gamingthepast), teacher, historian, researcher, and author of Gaming the Past

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February (Even though it’s March) History and Games Links

March 5, 2018 1 comment

Here’s the list for February. A lot of games, including the controversial Kingdom Come: Deliverance, the uncommonly focused Nantucket (19th century whaling), and the potentially very classroom-useful Neolithic: First City States. Some excellent essays and podcasts; really all kinds of materials. Enjoy!

Historical Video Games 

  • Age of Empires: Definitive Edition — An updated version for Windows 10 of a watershed commercial history game, first released in 1997. Currently only available through the Windows store, but there is some buzz that it will be available on Steam. See T.J. Hafer and Marcello Perricone’s articles below
  • Discovery Tour by Assassin’s Creed: Ancient Egypt— Lots of excitement for this, a violence-free tourist mode where players can explore the 3D world of late Ptolemaic Egypt, meet historical figures, and learn about material culture. This is a free update for those who own AC: Origins, but also can be purchased separately.  Be aware this will take a good graphics card to run well. See John Hopley’s essay below.
  • Check Your 6! — Turn-based game of aerial battles in World War 2
  • Fields of Glory 2: Legions Triumphant expansion— An expansion (must own the main FoG2) focused on the Roman Empire and its foes from Augustus to Romulus Augustulus (476 CE)

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My 30+ minutes of fame on the GDR podcast

February 24, 2018 Leave a comment

I was very pleased to have the chance to be on the latest episode (189) of The Game Design Round Table talking about my work with history games and even my amateur game designs for class.

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Civilization VI, Problem Spaces, and the Representation of the Cree – A few thoughts

February 19, 2018 2 comments

Civ VI CreePC Gamer published a short article on the controversy stirred by Civilization VI’s release of the Cree as a DLC civilization led by the historical leader, Poundmaker (Poundmaker Cree Nation leader criticizes Cree portrayal in Civilization 6). Reporter Andy Chalk quotes Cree Headman Milton Tootoosis’ assessment of the harmful depiction of the Cree:

“It perpetuates this myth that First Nations had similar values that the colonial culture has, and that is one of conquering other peoples and accessing their land,” Headman Milton Tootoosi said. “That is totally not in concert with our traditional ways and world view.”

“It’s a little dangerous for a company to perpetuate that ideology that is at odds with what we know. [Poundmaker] was certainly not in the same frame of mind as the colonial powers.”

And Chalk notes that Civ VI’s representation of the Cree as a playable civilization is problematic because it seems to suggest that the Cree were just another global player in the ultimate arena: world civilizations struggling to dominate the globe.

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Playing with the past in serious ways: Twine interactive history project guide, Part 1

February 18, 2018 3 comments

This is the third year I have incorporated a long-term (one quarter to one semester long) Twine interactive history project into my ninth-grade ancient world history and twelfth grade Roman Republic classes at Cincinnati Country Day School. I have written in the past about Twine, the benefits for students researching and designing Twine histories, and some of the methods I have employed (See Twine, Inform, and Designing Interactive History Texts and Creating Interactive Histories in History Class at Play the Past. Also see the YouTube video I prepared for the VALUE project). This post talks about my latest implementation-in-process this semester and some thoughts on the process and educational value of a Twine interactive history project. Included are the spec sheets and rubrics I have developed to help teachers launch their own Twine history projects.

Types of Choice-Based Interactive History Texts

Types of Twine histories

There are three fundamental approaches to choice-based interactive history texts one can design with Twine or similar tools (see: Crafting Interactive Histories: Twine and Choice-Based Interactive Historical Texts ) Every Person, Specific Agent, and Experimenting Deity. Each has a different sort of player agent that produces some differences in the research required for each and the handling of issues like counterfactual history that are inherent to most interactive histories. Read more…

January 2018 History and Games Links

January 20, 2018 1 comment

So many interesting things to investigate in this month’s links collections!

Historical Video Games

  • Ancient Warfare – Looks to be perhaps a combination of block-building creation (a la Minecraft) with realtime strategy/third person battles. Clearly a sandbox of sorts and equally clearly, a sketchy status as a historical game.  Ostensibly claims the ability to do WWI and WW2 battles, which undermines the whole title.  Let me know if you play with this one.
  • Assassin’s Creed: Origins’ first DLC: The Hidden Ones is out on January 23rd at Uplay
  • Attentat 1942 – Attentat 1942 (my review) was recently named a 2018 competition finalist in the IGF (Independent Games Festival) competition. It is an engaging mystery game where you, playing as a modern Czech man or woman in Prague, investigate your grandfather’s involvement in the historical assassination of Nazi Governor and Holocaust Architect. Definitely a good candidate for play in classes studying civilian life in Nazi occupied Europe (Czechoslovakia), and an good genre game for anyone interested in the topic.

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Numantia – Review

January 15, 2018 1 comment

Numantia headerNumantia is a turn-based strategy game by RECOtechnology released for the PC, PS4, and XBox One. The game is set in the mid-second century BCE during the long, brutal wars the Romans fought in the Iberian peninsula as they conquered the region. Players can take the role of the Spanish or the Romans and play through a campaign that consists of a series of choice-based-text decisions on a stylized and attractive campaign map of northern Iberia punctuated by turn-based battles between Roman and Spanish forces on hex-based maps.
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Discussion: Historical Accuracy and Historical Video Games? (Part 1)

December 26, 2017 1 comment

For this first post in a series, Adam Chapman and I begin to discuss, and hopefully unravel, the ideas of historical accuracy and authenticity in historical video games. What do we mean by these terms? Can games show accuracy and authenticity? Does it matter and, if so, why? We have authored this as a dialogue, each of us contributing a little text at a time and responding off each other.  We welcome participation and will respond to comments.

Jeremiah: It seems a straightforward sort of question: “how historically accurate is that video game?”,  whether it’s Assassin’s Creed: Origins, Call of Duty: World War II, Sid Meier’s Civilization or any of the myriad historical video games. Sometimes when we talk about historical video games, we use the term historically authentic to try to capture something different about the ways a historical game relates to the past it depicts. Either way, it’s not an easy question. But let’s see if we can unpack it.

What does it mean to be historically accurate in general? Does that mean that a medium (text, recording, image, video, game, etc.) represents or depicts events in the correct chronology and “as they happened”? If so, we’ve got a problem right there. It’s been quite awhile since mainstream historians have argued that historians can in any meaningful sense depict the past “as it was.” But let’s leave that aside for a moment. Let’s stipulate that historically accurate means presenting accurately in the medium the “historical facts”, the “generally accepted” view of events, the participants, the order they happened, causes and effects, that sort of thing,

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