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Posts Tagged ‘Counterfactual History’

Who Am I? What Am I Doing Here? Player Agents in Historical Games

December 30, 2018 3 comments

Adam Chapman and I are back on track debating the distinctions between different kinds of historical games and what makes a game historical. I find myself, in these kinds of discussions, increasingly referring to important distinctions I have found between types of player agents in historical games. I developed a starting taxonomy to make these distinctions explicit and useful for analysis in a talk I gave on Twine and interactive historical texts for the Value Project last year (The whole talk is worth it, I hope, but minutes 15:20 – 17:40 present my initial version of the taxonomy). I will write this up more formally in some articles in 2019, but since I have found it to be useful and I refer back to it increasingly, I wanted to present this to interested folk.

[1/1/2019 Note: I’ve gotten some helpful initial feedback, and rather than draft a new post, I am adding new sections in blue italics. This is all still very much a work in progress, but I became struck all-of-a-sudden by the idea of updating more interactively with feedback from Twitter — keep the thoughts coming!]

In historical games (whether using MacCallum-Stewart & Parsler’s (2007, 204) definition or Chapman’s (2016, 16) much broader definition) with historical problem spaces (McCall 2012, 2012, 2016, 8), the types of player-agents game designers focus on in their designs have a significant impact on the connections between the game and the past. There is, of course, a great deal of overlap, but it is still meaningful to consider four main types of historical agents in these games.

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Discussion: Historical Accuracy and Historical Video Games (Part 1)

December 26, 2017 3 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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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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