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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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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Categories: Uncategorized

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 2 comments

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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Mid-December History and Games Links

December 16, 2017 3 comments

When I began the cycle I wasn’t sure if I’d have enough in a month. Amazing what pops up as we all work on history and games. Don’t forget to send links my way for the mid-January links page.

Historical Video Games

  • Ambition: A Minuet in Power  is currently on Kickstarter.  According to its designers: “Court, snub and seduce your way to the top of society. Extend your influence, uncover the intrigue of the coming revolution, and ensure that you end up on the winning side of history.”
  • Arté: Mecenas – Made for art history and world history classes, Arte: Mecenas places the player as a Medici banker developing business and patronizing Renaissance Art.
  • Games by Colestia on itch.io – A set of small games about historical and real world topics. Post/Capitalism I found powerfully provocative and simple in its argument.
  • Command: Shifting Sands –  “Traces the history of many Arab-Israeli conflicts: from the sidelines of the Suez crisis, through the lightning Six-Day War… all the way to the historic Osirak raid and the epic air battle over the Bekaa Valley.”
  • Curious Expedition – A game about 19th century European exploration and Imperialism. The designers have offered their game for free to interested educators (info@curious-expedition.com)
  • Field of Glory II: Immortal Fire – The expansion to Field of Glory II focused on the Greco-Persian wars
  • Oriental Empires – Turn-based strategy focused on ancient Chineses civilizations. As I noted in my tweet, I’m not fully comfortable with the title, but this seems to be a legitimate (and well-received) strategy game.
  • Venti Mesi – “A collection of playable stories about Italian Resistance and Liberation from Nazi-Fascism.”
  • Way of the Defector – Assume the role of a defector trying to escape North Korea and reach safety

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Categories: link lists

Arté Mecenas – Review

December 13, 2017 2 comments

Arté: Mecenas™ portrays the rise of the Medici and the interconnection of art, patronage, spirituality, economics, and politics in Renaissance Florence.  Purposefully designed and marketed for students in art history surveys or general surveys of early Modern Europe, the game is accompanied with statements of learning objectives and a fair number of  teacher support materials. These details help the game be integrated more smoothly into a teacher’s existing curriculum. The game also offers an instructor’s portal that enables the teacher to monitor students’ progress through the game.

The stated learning goals of Arté: Mecenas, are really more game goals rather than  a list of the cognitive skills and knowledge the student will hopefully acquire and develop. Still they give a reasonable overview of the understandings the game designers hope students will acquire.
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Attentat 1942 – Review

November 24, 2017 3 comments

With this post begins a regular practice of blogging at least monthly, in addition to the mid-month review of links. I’d like to fill this space with reviews of historical video games that have good prospects for use in history classes from middle school through college. With that in mind, it is my pleasure to begin with a review of Attentat 1942, (Steam Page).

Note: I received a review copy of Attentat 1942 at the developers’ initiative. I also played through the game once; clearly multiple playthroughs will bring different experiences

Attentat 1942, (Steam Page) is an intriguing historical adventure game developed by  Charles University, Czech Academy of Sciences in Prague. The prologue, in full motion video footage from the Second World War, tells the player the story of the historical 1942 assassination of Reinhard Attentat CaptureHeydrich, a primary actor driving the Holocaust and the Nazi governor of the protectorate of Moravia and Bohemia, the territory that included Prague after it came under Nazi control. The assassination of Heydrich by Czechoslovak paratroopers, while a blow on behalf of the resistance, resulted in the brutal execution and deportation to concentration camps of several thousand in the protectorate.

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Mid-November History and Games Links

November 20, 2017 1 comment

Starting with this post, I will post at least once every month a list of things new (to me at least) in the world of historical games – Games, Commentary, Scholarship, and even some more tangentially related news and scholarship. I’m not going to be too strict about when such material came out, so if you have things from earlier in the year that you would like to have posted in mid- December, let me know. I’ll figure out a better way to organize this, I hope, but for now, I just want to get the ball rolling

New Historical Video Games

I’m deliberately not including the AAA predominantly first/third person shooters; they get plenty of press already. These are the interesting indies with a marked preference for games that might be useful in a class-setting

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Categories: link lists