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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GTP Designer Talk 4 – Richard Bodley Scott

October 10, 2019 1 comment

In this episode I talk with designer Richard Bodley Scott about his ancient battle game, Field of Glory 2.

FoG2

Richard is an active participant on the Slitherine forums, so you can reach him via https://www.slitherine.com/forum/viewforum.php?f=477

Field of Glory 2 is available at Slitherine https://www.slitherine.com/game/field-of-glory-ii

and Steam: https://store.steampowered.com/app/660160/Field_of_Glory_II/

Reviews and Commentary

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.

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Categories: Uncategorized

Interactive History Class 2019 – Teacher’s Log #1 (Week of 8/19)

August 30, 2019 3 comments

disclaimer: shockingly little/ sometimes no proofreading; I’m just trying to get the information and ideas out there fast.

So as some may know, I launched the second iteration of my Interactive History class, a senior elective at Cincinnati Country Day School. Last year it ran as a third quarter elective. While the class was very successful, I found it readily apparent that a reformed and expanded semester-long course could be even more successful. I had learned it was overly idealistic to suppose, in the first run of the course, that, say, reading one article on World War I would provide students enough refresher and new evidence to deeply critique a game on the topic. Hence the key difference (other than class time) in my approach this year: rather than encounter a briefer and necessarily more superficial investigation of the relevant history before playing a game, teach a small number of historical units in-depth and focus most of the games on these units.  Then, arguably, students could learn and do history in a deeper more meaningful way through a variety of media and channel that learning into more rich and substantive play, analysis, and critique of historical games.

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GTP Designer Talk 3 – Philippe Malacher

August 13, 2019 1 comment

8/12/19 – I had the pleasure of talking with Philippe Malacher, lead designer at Ageod, who has released Ageod/Slitherine’s Field of Glory: Empires. FoG:E is a turn-based strategy game where players guide one of the states of the third century BCE Mediterranean in a struggle against other powers. The episode will be available soon on Spotify, Google, and Apple.

FoGE Screen

Field of Glory: Empires at Slitherine Games   and at Steam

Reviews and Commentary

 

 

History and Game Links April – June 2019

July 7, 2019 1 comment

Historical Video Games 

  • China: Mao’s Legacy, Steam blurb: “Year 1976, the stormy Cultural revolution has died down, hard times of hongweibing and public critics are coming to an end. Old and sick Mao Zedong will soon leave China to his comrades from CPC. The Cold War is coming into a new phase…
  • Crusader Kings, Iron Century, The latest update (and free) for Paradox’s strategy/role-playing/diplomacy game set in the Medieval period. Iron Century starts players in the 10th century.
  • Dawn of Man Steam blurb: “Command a settlement of ancient humans, guide them through the ages in their struggle for survival. Hunt, gather, craft tools, fight, research new techs and face the challenges the environment will throw at you.”
  • Fort Sumter: The Secession Crisis. A well-received port of Mark Herman’s board game of the same name. Steam blurb: “Can you drive the Secessionist into the Fort Sumter trap that gave Lincoln his historic victory? Can you successfully use the issue of States Rights to divide Northern opinion? Fort Sumter let’s you explore this seminal moment in American history in a fast-playing, easy-to-learn card driven game.”

Read more…

Categories: link lists

GTP Designer Talk 2 – Jon Shafer

Jon Shafer of Conifer games talks about history and historical game design in Civilization V and At the Gates

At the Gates

Civ V

At the Gates is available at Conifer Games  and on Steam

Civilization V is available on Steam

 

GTP Designer Talk 1 – Soren Johnson

GTP Designer Talk Podcast #2: Jon Shafer of Civilization V and At the Gates

Recently, I had the opportunity to talk with Jon Shafer designer of Civilization V and through his Conifer Games, At the Gates , about a variety of topics related to history and historical game design. If opportunities continue for more of these GTP Designer Talks, I will get a Google Play, Apple Play, Spotify setup. For now you can follow the link to my Google Drive and download the mp3 on your player or listen to it here on the site.

Follow this link to my Google Drive for the mp3 file, to download it for listening on your phone/player

or listen right here here:

 

A Brief Intro Letter to US History Teachers

Taking a page from Emily Short and Chris Klimas’ blog playbooks, I was recently responding to a request from a teacher for suggestions using games for the first time in a college introductory-level US History survey courses\. I get requests like this every so often, and I’m delighted when new people find my work. I realized, though, I should probably post my suggestions on Gaming the Past for others to, hopefully, benefit from. So I polished it just a little bit, and here it is.

If you have more questions or want to dig deeper, I’m always willing to help out: jmc.hst@gmail.com

 

Hi

Thanks for your email. It’s always a pleasure to talk shop about these things and find that someone has interest in the work I do. I’m assuming from your email this is first-year US History? … I’m just going to get started there …
So first off, let me stress that, I think, the goal is to get students learning about historical systems and actors’ choices within systems (Historical problem spaces), but I also think the goal is to get them to use their historical knowledge by actively critiquing any game they play using the evidence of class notes and readings. So, having a historically accurate game (a problematic concept anyway because we are constantly revising and shifting and challenging historical interpretations in the field) is not the goal per se. Rather the sweet spot is a game that presents some reasonable propositions about the past (past systems and past problem spaces) but also is problematic in some more and less subtle ways. That way students engage and exercise their ability to critique, not just passively learn from a source of authority: textbook, article, lecture etc.

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We. The Revolution

June 28, 2019 3 comments

I should begin by noting that, despite its length, this is far from a complete review of all aspects of Polyslash’s French-Revolution-themed game, We. The Revolution. It is difficult to describe and review concisely as a historical game, and I have only played through the first act, the first 20 days, perhaps some 25 hours with restarts. New systems and mechanics continue to appear.

Not a criticism. Far from it. Ultimately, I am sincerely impressed with WTR. Opinions will vary about the enjoyability of the game (and I encourage readers to read a mainstream games media review when considering playing purely for enjoyment: Anthony Marzano at Destructoid and Robert Purchese at Eurogamer both offer good reviews): is it too linear? are some of the mechanics insufficiently clear and in need of more development? does the quality of voice acting detract too much from the game? What kind of game is it anyway?

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