Playing with the Past Digital Games and the Simulation of History

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2013-10-24
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Academic

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Game Studies is a rapidly growing area of contemporary scholarship, yet volumes in the area have tended to focus on more general issues. With Playing with the Past, game studies is taken to the next level by offering a specific and detailed analysis of one area of digital game play -- the representation of history. The collection focuses on the ways in which gamers engage with, play with, recreate, subvert, reverse and direct the historical past, and what effect this has on the ways in which we go about constructing the present or imagining a future.

What can World War Two strategy games teach us about the reality of this complex and multifaceted period? Do the possibilities of playing with the past change the way we understand history? If we embody a colonialist's perspective to conquer 'primitive' tribes in Colonization, does this privilege a distinct way of viewing history as benevolent intervention over imperialist expansion? The fusion of these two fields allows the editors to pose new questions about the ways in which gamers interact with their game worlds. Drawing these threads together, the collection concludes by asking whether digital games - which represent history or historical change - alter the way we, today, understand history itself.

Author Biography

Matthew Wilhelm Kapell has graduate degrees in biological anthropology and history as well as a Ph.D. in American Studies. He has published on genetics, urban history, African colonial history, as well as four books in film and television studies and has taught extensively in the United States and Great Britain.

Andrew B.R. Elliott is a Lecturer in Media and Cultural Studies at the University of Lincoln, UK, where he teaches cultural studies, media studies, history, film, and television. He is the author of Remaking the Middle Ages (2010) which concerns itself with authenticity, violence, and a semiotic reconstruction of the medieval period.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction, Andrew B.R. Elliott (University of Lincoln, UK) and Matthew Wilhelm Kapell (Sierra College, USA)
I: History as a Process: Teleology, Causation and Technological Determinism
2. The Same River Twice: Historical Representation and the Value of Exploring Societal Concepts in the Total War, Civilization, and Age of Empires Franchises, Rolfe Daus Peterson, Andrew Miller, Sean Joseph Fedorko (Mercyhurst College, USA)
3. What is “Old” in Videogames? Dan Reynolds (U-California, Santa Barbara, Film & Media Studies)
4. “Affording History”: Applying the Ecological Approach to Historical Videogames, Adam Chapman (Hull University, UK, Media, Culture and Society)
II: History written by the West: Self, Other and Non-Western History
5. Phantasms of Rome: Video Games and Cultural Identity, Emily Joy Bembeneck (University of Michigan, USA, Classics)
6. Modeling Indigenous Peoples: Unpacking Ideology in Sid Meier’s Colonization, Rebecca Mir and Trevor Owens (Mir: Bard Graduate Center (NY, USA), Decorative Arts, Design History, and Material Culture; Owens: US Library of Congress)
7. Dominance and The Aztec Empire: Representations in Age of Empires II and Medieval Total War II, Joshua D. Holdenried with Nicolas Trépanier (University of Mississippi, USA, History)
8. From History to Literature to Game: Three Kingdoms and the Cultural Significance of Asian History, Hyuk-chan Kwon (City University of Hong Kong, Chinese, Translation and Linguistics)
9. Falling in Love with History: Japanese Girls and Otome Games, Kazumi Hasegawa (Emory University, USA, American Studies)
III: User-Generated History: Realism, Authenticity and the Playable Past
10. Selective Authenticity and the Playable Past, Andrew J. Salvati and Jonathan M. Bullinger (Rutgers University, USA, Media Studies)
11. The Promise of Simulation: Realism, Authenticity, Virtuality, Josef Köstlbauer (University of Vienna, History)
12. Modding the Historians’ Code: Historical Verisimilitude and the Counterfactual Imagination, Tom Apperley (University of New South Wales, AUS, Media Research Centre)
13. Modding as Historical Reenactment: A Case Study of the Battlefield Series, Gareth Crabtree (Independent Scholar)
IV: The Politics of Representation: Authenticity and Realism
14. Historical Veneers: Anachronism, Simulation and History in Assassin’s Creed II, Douglas N. Dow (Kansas State University, USA, Art History)
15. Air Power vs. Processing Power: Technology and Narrative Possibilities in WWI Video Gaming, Andrew Wackerfuss (US Air Force Office of Historical Studies, The Pentagon)
16. Videogames in the popular Culture of Remembrance of the Cold War: A Case Study of Call of Duty: Black Ops, Clemens Reisner (University of Vienna, Austria, Media Studies)
17. Refighting the Cold War: Video Games and Speculative History, Marcus Schulzke (State University of New York, Albany, USA, Political Science)
V: Looking Back on the End of the World: History as Utopian Possibility
18. Game Over or The End? Representations of Nuclear War in Video Games, 1979-2011, William M. Knoblauch (Northland College, USA, History)
19. Fallout and the History of Yesterday’s Impossible Tomorrow, Joseph A. November (University of South Carolina, USA, History)
20. History Out of Time: Fallout’s Ironic America, Tom Cutterham (St. Hugh’s College, Oxford University, UK, History)
21. The Historical Conception of Biohazard in Biohazard, Robert Mejia and Ryuta Komaki (University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, USA, Communications)
22. The Struggle with Gnosis: Ancient Religion and Future Technology in the Xenosaga Series, Erin Evans (University of Edinburgh, UK, Religious Studies)
23. Conclusion: Digital Myths and Historical Memory, Matthew Wilhelm Kapell (Sierra College, US) and Andrew B.R. Elliott (University of Lincoln, UK)


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