[Air-L] CFP: Representations of History in Video Games

Gerald Voorhees dr.g.voorhees at gmail.com
Mon Dec 19 15:36:00 PST 2011

Dear list,

I'm posting on behalf of some colleagues working on a fascinating
interdisciplinary project. Please contact Matthew and Andrew directly with
inquiries at simulatehistory at gmail.com. Apologies for cross-posting.

We are seeking chapters for a new interdisciplinary collection addressing
the representation and depiction of history in video games.

In a 2005 article discussing the simulation of history through video games,
William Uricchio observes that the opportunities for mediation through play
pose new and difficult questions about narrative authority and
representation. “What happens”, he asks, “if we push the notion of
mediation beyond language, to the domain of game, enactment, or simulation?
Does this allow us to slip out of the well-critiqued trap of
representation? And if so, where does it land us?” As of 2011, his
questions remain unanswered.

Amid a world of SIMs, first-person warfare games, strategy, MMO and MMORPs
in which players can influence the outcome of battles, campaigns, and even
entire civilisations, such questions about the means by which history is
delivered to new generations gain increasing importance. When history can
be simulated, recreated, subverted and rewritten on a variety of levels,
new questions arise about the relationship between video games and the
history they purport to represent, questions which traditional historical
approaches cannot properly address.

The proposed edited collection thus seeks to examine representations of
history through video and computer games from a multidisciplinary
perspective. Our aim is to avoid criticisms of inaccuracy and betrayal or
descriptions of games which purportedly ‘get things wrong’, but to look
instead at the ways in which contemporary players actually can and do
engage with the past, and what effect this has on the period depicted.

Suggested topics may include (but are not limited to):

• The representation of historical battles, wars and campaigns (e.g. Medal
of Honor, Call of Duty, Command & Conquer, Battlefield)

• The role of play in the recreation, retelling and representation of key
events in history (e.g. Anno 1404, Anno 1701, Sid Meier’s Colonization)

• The representation of historical personages (Caesar, Napoleon, Victoria,
Sun Tzu)

• The ways in which non-western histories are depicted (e.g. Seven States,
Pharaoh, Age of Empires: Asian Dynasties, East India Company, Total War:
Shogun, Assassin’s Creed)

• The role of the player and designer in subverting the “master narratives
of history” (Sim City, Sim Earth, Populous, Age of Empires, Deus Ex)

• Games which rewrite histories across eras (e.g. Civilization, Empire
Earth, Europa Universalis, Pride of Nations )

• Instances of alternative history or future history (e.g. Alpha
Centauri,Masters of Orion, World of Warcraft, Galactic Civilizations,

While we welcome proposals which adopt unusual approaches to
representations of the past, we hope to focus on games with a wide fan base
in order to appeal to a wide readership of both non-gamer historians and
non-historian  gamers alike. Likewise, we would encourage essays which
address a single topic or theory (such as World War I or the Great Man
theory of history) across a number of games. Proposals are sought from both
experienced  researchers and doctoral students alike, and co-authored
submissions which seek to cross traditional disciplinary boundaries are
especially welcome.

Abstracts of 300 words, along with a brief CV or publication list, should
be sent to the editors at simulatehistory at gmail.com by January 16th 2012.

At this stage we are expecting to receive draft essays of 5-6,000 words by
late May 2012.

For informal enquiries, please contact either Matthew Kapell or Andrew
Elliott at simulatehistory at gmail.com.

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