The Historical Problem Space Framework for Game Analysis

This page is the new repository for my writing and materials on the Historical Problem Space framework including downloadable versions of various note taking and analysis charts. HPS is a media-sensitive method for analyzing historical video games as games.

Essays and Background

The most detailed version of HPS terms and concepts for analysis, see: McCall (2020), The Historical Problem Space Framework: Games as a Historical Medium and McCall (2022), Gaming the Past: Using Video Games to Teach Secondary History, Second Edition. Routledge.

A shorter introduction, see the essay I wrote for and McCall (2020), An Introduction to Historical Problem Spaces

A Playthepast essay in two parts using HPS terminology and its emphasis on close-reading to analyze Paintbucket Games’ Through the Darkest of Times Through the Darkest of Times’ Historical Problem Space, Part 1 and Part II

My earliest work on thinking about games as historical problem spaces, the initial article on the topic is here: McCall (2012), Historical Simulations as Problem Space: Criticism and Classroom Use and McCall (2012), Navigating the Problem Space: The Medium of Simulation Games in the Teaching of History

Talks and Videos

Agents and Obstacles: Videogames as Historical Problem Spaces” a talk for the University of Helsinki’s Games Research Collective 5/20/21

Civilization IV and V as Gamic Histories” recorded for Dr. Constance Steinkuehler’s Games in Society Class at UC Irvine 4/10/20

Diagrams for Analyzing Games

These can be useful for analysis while designing historical games, academically dissecting historical games (whatever level of student/scholar)

Conceptual Diagram

Diagram-Style Blank Note Sheet

Note Sheet Style 2 with Genre

Note Sheet Style 2 without Genre (because sometimes you need the extra space during classroom analysis)

A (Unfinished) Glossary of Terms

To be filled in over time. Since the HPS framework continues to be developed over time, these terms are found in various places, all listed in Essays and Background above. Gaming the Past, Second Edition and my Gamestudies essay of 2020 contain most of the terminology. A forthcoming article will discuss some terminology in more detail.

attenuated goals
brand genre
components (of the HPS)
defensible models
designed goal
elements and systems of elements (gameworld)
embodied agent
explicit agent
explicit space
historical archetype
historically specific agent
implicit agent
implicit space
non-player agent
opposing agents
player agent
player agent abilities
player agent attributes
primary goal
secondary goals
subordinate agent
triumphant goals
unembodied agent

%d bloggers like this: