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 (jmc.hst@gmail.com; @gamingthepast), teacher, historian, researcher, and author of Gaming the Past

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Making a roll-and-write for history class using Roll through the Ages as a guide

November 5, 2021 1 comment

So, I want to begin simply by promoting Eagle-Gryphon Games Roll through the Ages: The Bronze Age as a terrific game to use with secondary and higher learners in a lesson, unit, or course on ancient agrarian states. https://www.eaglegames.net/Roll-Through-The-Ages-The-Bronze-Age-p/101119.htm But do keep reading if you are interested in creating your own roll-and-write games for history classes that may have nothing to do with ancient history. RTTA Bronze Age provides an excellent model for a roll-and-write game structure that could be used to inspire games about all sorts of historical topics, even ones far removed from RTTA:BA’s setting with Bronze Age states.

Just wanted to pitch both that it is a terrific game to use in an ancient history class, but it models a type of game structure that works very well in history classes. That structure is easily abstractable to then allow for creating other good games on any number of subjects for history class

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(Tweet Thread) Games with Historical Player Agents that Aren’t Rulers or Warriors

June 15, 2021 1 comment

Recently I received a Twitter question asking what kinds of historical games are available that do not place the player-agent (the character the player plays as) in the traditional game role of a ruler, commander, or warrior. Here’s my response, slightly reformatted from the thread: A partial list of some cool historical games that have more varied player-agents.

When Rivers Were Trails, (When Rivers Were Trails by indianlandtenure (itch.io)) where the player agent is an indigenous person (Anishinaabeg) in the 1890s forced from their Minnesota home and required to survive a journey to relocate on the west coast of North America.

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Video Interview on Games and History with the Arise Project

March 26, 2021 1 comment

I had the pleasure of being interviewed this past July by Vinicius Carvalho and crew with the Arise Project part of the USP Archeology and Ethnology Museum, in 2017. They asked all sorts of great questions and gave me the chance to talk about the wide range of historical games studies topics I work on as a researcher and an educator.

After a Portuguese intro, the interview is in English. Since it’s about 52 minutes long, I thought it might be helpful for those interested to give a little breakdown of the questions I talk about and their place in the interview.

Start: My history and how I came to the work on history and games in education

4:45 What makes a historical game a good fit for learning and classroom use?

8:15 Have you had any experiences where students didn’t actually want to play the game?

10:30 Tell us about Res Publica, a tabletop game you designed for Roman History class I have designed. (also gets into principles of historical game design).

14:40 How can we as game developers assess/judge the knowledge students acquire when playing historical games?

21:00 My work with interactive text design tools by students; for students; by historians. Twine and choice-based games. Parser based games.

28:00 Historical Problem Space Framework in some detail and the philosophy

36:00 The historical problem space framework as a useful guide for historical game design.

39:00 Where are you headed next?
Interactive History class – Imperialism and Colonialism
Testing out the HPS in class more

42:20 What are the challenges and benefits of getting realtime feedback on a game you have designed from students in the class. Working with Teachers to try out historical games. and some suggestions for the Arise project’s work. Matching a historical game to history education.

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Through the Darkest of Times’ Historical Problem Space

January 24, 2021 Leave a comment

This is a republication of my two-part essay on Playthepast.org, (original Part 1 and Part 2 here). It is the first long-form historical game analysis I have written using the Historical Problem Space framework. The first half of the essay is more descriptive, illustrating the details that go into a historical problem space analysis. The second part provides more analysis and conclusions about the game as a history.

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Essay on Through the Darkest of Times up on Play the Past

December 17, 2020 1 comment

My two-part essay on Paintbucket Games Through the Darkest of Times is now published on Play the Past. This essay uses the historical problem space framework to analyze the game. Let me know what you think.


Through the Darkest of Times’ Historical Problem Space, Part 1 (playthepast.org)

Through the Darkest of Times’ Historical Problem Space, Part 2 (playthepast.org)

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Open Teacher Letter – When Rivers Were Trails

November 17, 2020 1 comment

I received this email the other day asking about using When Rivers Were Trails in a 7th grade Social Studies Class in Minnesota. The game is available for free and runs on Windows and Mac. As the developers note on the itch.io page, https://indianlandtenure.itch.io/when-rivers-were-trails, “When Rivers Were Trails is a 2D point-and-click adventure game in which Oregon Trail meets Where the Water Tastes Like Wine. An Anishinaabeg in the 1890’s is displaced from their traditional territory in Minnesota and heads west to California due to the impact of allotment acts on Indigenous communities, facing Indian Agents, meeting people from different nations, and hunting, fishing, and canoeing along the way as they balance their wellbeing.” It is a terrific game for students studying US and Native American history and present at any grade level including college. The basic lesson guidelines will work for any age/grade level; just adjust the historical research part with appropriate readings. Here is my response to the letter, with a bit of editing and expansion. For more information, see my earlier post on this game

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New Article: Historical Problem Space

October 7, 2020 1 comment

Game Studies, I’m very pleased to say, published my article in late September, The Historical Problem Space Framework: Games as a Historical Medium. In this essay I lay out in detail the historical problem space framework, an approach to understanding historical video games (and tabletop games, for that matter) I’ve developed over the past eight years or so. It should, I hope, provide a helpful way for thinking about and analyzing historical games for historical game fans, scholars, teachers, and designers.  

GTP Designer Talk #6 – Henrik Fåhraeus, Crusader Kings II and III

CKII-Header.jpg

Episode 6 (5/2/2020) Henrik Fåhraeus, Paradox Development Studio, Designer of many Paradox Games, talking about Crusader Kings II and the upcoming  CK III

On Spotify, Apple, and Google 

Resources

GTP Designer Talk #5 – Owen Gottlieb

March 4, 2020 1 comment
Annotation 2020-03-04 081209

Episode 5 (2/2/2020) Owen Gottlieb, RIT MAGIC Spell Studios, (Lost and Found; Lost and Found Order in the Court: The Party Game)

Also on Spotify, Apple, and Google 

Lost and Found Main Site

Resources mentioned during the podcast

Civilization Series Bibliography

January 22, 2020 1 comment

UPDATE (1/26): This bibliography has been superseded by the main GTP bibliography I maintain, with a section on Civilization.   I’m adding new entries there.

Enough interest in research about the Civilization series pops up every so often, that I thought a quick bibliography might be helpful to refer to. I have more to add, but here’s a good start.

Burns, A. (2002). Civilization III: Digital game-based learning and macrohistory simulations. Retrieved from http://www.alexburns.net/Files/CivilizationIII.pdf

Capps, K. (2016) What Civilization VI Gets Wrong about Civilization. Citylab. https://www.citylab.com/life/2016/10/what-civilization-vi-gets-wrong-about-civilization/504653/

Chapman, A. (2013). Is SId Meier’s Civilization History? Rethinking History 17(3). https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/13642529.2013.774719

Ford. D. (2016)“eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, eXterminate”:Affective Writing of Postcolonial History and Education in Civilization V. Game Studies, 16. http://gamestudies.org/1602/articles/ford

Koebel, G. (2017). Simulating the ages of man: Periodization in Civilization V and Europa Universalis IV. Loading … , 10(17), 60-76. (available online)

Lammes, S. (2010). Postcolonial Playgrounds: Games as Postcolonial Cultures. Eludamos 4(1): 1-6. https://eludamos.org/index.php/eludamos/article/view/vol4no1-1/149

MacQuarrie, A. (2018). All Rise and No Fall: How Civilization Reinforces a Dangerous Myth. Rock Paper Shotgun. https://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2018/03/15/all-rise-and-no-fall-how-civilization-reinforces-a-dangerous-myth/

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