Archive

Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

An Introduction to Historical Problem Spaces 

This is a reprint of my original PlaythePast post . It offers a brisker survey of the Historical Problem Space framework that I lay out in greater detail in the academic journal Game Studies article, The Historical Problem Space Framework: Games as a Historical Medium, also published in late 2020. The ambition to write a series of these for PlaythePast.org has not yet been fulfilled.

I’m returning, happily, to my roots to write a series of essays on PlaythePast. In 2012 I proposed the outlines of a framework (first here on PtP and then elsewhere in The Journal of Digital Humanities) that I have come to call the “historical problem space framework.” Since then, I have spent a considerable amount of time–both as a history educator who uses historical games and as a historian studying games–developing and refining this historical problem space framework. While I have an article in the works on the subject, and regularly make use of it in my classes and research, the framework has developed considerably since I first proposed it 8 years ago. Someday, perhaps I’ll get to write a book on the topic. But for now, in hopes of providing a hopefully easy-to-understand, holistic, and practical approach to analyzing and explaining the history in historical games, I’m writing a series of essays here on Playthepast, where the concept was born. Hopefully, readers will find the framework useful for their own research, teaching, and design and just for thinking more about how historical video games work. This is a work in progress and comments, questions, and constructive criticism are most welcome.

The historical problem space framework (HPS) is a holistic, medium-sensitive, design-focused framework for analyzing and understanding, designing, and teaching with historical games. It is, above all, meant to focus practically on how designers craft historical games, based on an understanding that games are mathematical, interlocking, interactive (playable) systems.

History is, in broad terms, the curated representation of the past, so pretty much any medium that can communicate ideas about the past can function as history. This is as true for video games as it is for texts, images, cinema, and so on. It is critical to understand, however, that each medium has its own characteristics, its own ways of presenting the past. This point has been made increasingly clear by historians studying historical film and is certainly true of historical video games. Both need to be approached not as a deficient forms of textual history, but as media that are simply different from text, talk, or lecture.

Read more…
Categories: Uncategorized

New Encyclopedia Article – History Games

My encyclopedia article, an introduction to historical video games and historical game studies has just been published as part of the open-access online Encyclopedia of Ludic Terms

Categories: Uncategorized

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

November 5, 2021 2 comments

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

Read more…

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

June 15, 2021 2 comments

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.

Read more…
Categories: Uncategorized

Video Interview on Games and History with the Arise Project

March 26, 2021 2 comments

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.

Categories: Uncategorized

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

December 17, 2020 2 comments

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)

Categories: Uncategorized

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/

Read more…

Categories: Uncategorized

Quick Educator Review – When Rivers Were Trails

January 20, 2020 2 comments

Just tweeted a thread on the videogame, When Rivers Were Trails, which was developed by a partnerships between the Indian Land Tenure Foundation and Michigan State University’s Games for Entertainment and Learning Lab. https://indianlandtenure.itch.io/when-rivers-were-trails… by lead designer Elizabeth LaPensée, PhD. and lead artist Weshoyot Alvitre (and many others). 
Then I thought I would put this on GTP and, at the same time, experiment with a different short review style for the blog)

What it is: A FREE, beautifully illustrated, choice-based interactive text for Mac and PC with just a bit of a resource model. Players read about the main character and make choices by clicking on the relevant text with the mouse. The player character has three main attributes affected by gameplay:  a medicine and food inventory and a level of wellbeing that can increase and decrease. Navigation across the map is carried out by clicking on a simple compass rose. According to the introduction to the game on itch.io:
6vE_S2
“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.”  In short, the game offers a different, less-often seen perspective on the suffering, resistance, and adaptation of indigenous people in response to the US policies of forcibly seizing indigenous land and forcing indigenous peoples to relocate and re-start in places far from their homes.

Annotation 2020-01-20 092707
Read more…
Categories: Uncategorized

Rough but useable – Roman Republic Political Competition Game

November 19, 2019 1 comment

This is a quick game I threw together to teach about Roman politics and political competition in the Republic. This assumes you’re familiar with those topics. I’m just posting it in case anyone is interested. Also please note that this is not tested and so you should feel free to change any numbers to improve the outcomes.

UPDATE 11/22/19: New record sheet all made to fit on one sheet of paper

Roman Political RnR Game Onesheet

Annotation 2020-01-12 073545.png

Give each student a piece of paper with this record sheet or a replica. (Note: use Roman Political RnR Game Onesheet  for an updated printable pdf)

 

Read more…

Categories: Uncategorized

Interactive History Class 2019 – Teacher’s Log #2 (Week of 8/26)

August 30, 2019 4 comments

Disclaimer: often shockingly little/ sometimes no proofreading; just trying to get the ideas out fast and frequently for those interested

In the first log, I ended by talking about the board game Court[iers] of Versailles, an outstandingly-designed game of cut-throat politics at Louis XIV’s Palace of Versailles. The initial procedure I’m working to establish as a regular class rhythm is:

  1. Front-load just a little bit, some  reading/watching/listening and note-taking homework, and discussing just a bit class about the topic,
  2. Learn to play and play the game for 2 or 3 classes
  3. Pause for a class while playing to analyze and diagram the game’s historical problem space 
  4. Play a little more, and
  5. End with a critical discussion of the game using the historical evidence and prepare for an assessment. In my case that is likely some form of formal or informal essay since effective analytical and persuasive writing is a very important teaching objective for us at CCD. It could conceivably be any number of different kinds of assessments.

It’s a bit of a headache learning the game. CoV is not difficult to understand, but the rules, unfortunately, were not effectively translated into English, have many typos and errors, and are difficult to learn without the motivation of someone who wants to learn a game for fun, or an experienced guide. If you can get your hands on a copy, though, it is really a great foil for looking at ideas of nobility and court life at Versailles. Plus, since there are a lot of social “take-that” mechanics, the game tends to capture students’ interest.

Read more…

Categories: Uncategorized