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February-March Roundup: History

Rest at ease friends of BoRT, the day of April Foolishness is another note in history. And like so much of the history that makes us we can (re)examine, (re)consider, and (re)interpret the story it tells us about who we are. Over the last two months, we had a great many reflections (without the brackets) on how games envision history and how games are a part of history. Settle in, and leave some notes for future generations looking over another edition of Blogs of the Round Table!


Can Video Games Rewrite History?

Although this video by

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Episode 38 – The Spawn of History

…of the academy. We talk about the insular nature of academia, the challenges of getting guests to come on to the show, as well as looking to the future of history-based games.


History Respawned YouTube Channel

History Respawned: Assassin’s Creed IV

History Respawned: Diablo III

History Respawned: Valiant Hearts

History Respawned: Bioshock Infinite and the Boxer Uprising

History Respawned: Uncharted 4

Backwards Compatible: Gamers as a Public History Audience

The History Respawned Podcast

Hisotry Respawned Patreon

Opening Theme: ‘Close’ by The Alpha Conspiracy

Closing Theme: ‘Wishing…

Esther Wright | Keywords in Play, Episode 18

…kind of digital history that I do see myself doing, or the kind of digital historian that I see that I am, is use digital games, digital historical games to teach, teach history to think about what history actually is or what history could be. So, I teach a second-year undergraduate optional module for history undergraduates called ‘Digital Games and the Practice of History’, which is drawing much more broadly than just my work on Rockstar and looking at digital games as a, as a form of history as a way of representing the past and how, how games relate…

Assassin’s Creed III

…Which raises the question: who gets to define how we “make” history, especially when works of historical fiction employ the services of professional historians?

Vincent Boutonnet, Marc-André Éthier and David Lefrançois (link to PowerPoint presentation) argued that Ubisoft marketing positioned AC games as a historical panorama to be experienced, as opposed to a history lesson learned from books. Erik Sofge at Slate also thought that history in AC3 should be understood as an aesthetic: “History [in AC3] isn’t a footnote […]. It encroaches on and defines your experience. It’s richer than you’d expect for a video game and handled…

Regina Seiwald and Ed Vollans – Paratexts | Keywords in Play, Episode 19

…to kind of find a way that is the most accessible. And the most accessible way to link these different cases is through history. Because every paratext is, as I say, a finite snapshot, a crystalline image, if you will, a moment in time, and charting these paratexts is implicitly to chart the history of a particular text. And so, by moving away from a single text into a range of different texts that are created at different times, we are implicitly studying history. So, we’ve organized the book with sort of a history as paratext and paratext as history

February 2018: History

The month of chocolates and stuffed bears is upon us! But the celebration of such things doesn’t come out of nowhere. This month at BoRT we’re interested in where things come from, how circumstances align to make something happen, how stories of the past serve the present and guide the future; let it be known that this month’s topic is ‘History.’

History can mean a lot in games. It can be passing games down from one generation to another, it can be representations of a given moment, or it can be a personal relationship to something that used-to-be.

Limited by design: history through games

Luke Plunkett, Associate Director at Kotaku, wrote a Feature column discussing how video games present history. He spoke with Dr. Cliff Williamson, who teaches Modern British and American history at Bath Spa University in Britain – as well as communications manager Kieran Brigden, from Total War developer The Creative Assembly.

“There is the potential for games to mess it up as badly as the film industry has at times, because for every Das Boot made there is a U-571 just around the corner”, he says. “The tension is always there”.

Knowing how to navigate the

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Women’s History Month

With the increased visibility of women’s issues and subjects of representation in games, it should come as no surprise that more and more people –from publications on down to individual writers– are stepping forward to join the discussion. Last year’s #1reasonwhy moment showed us a clear need for a rigorous and ongoing conversation about sexism (including cissexism) in the games industry and culture. With this in mind, we the editors of Critical Distance are pleased to bring you a month-long series of special features highlighting women writers, developers, scholars and activists, in honor of Women’s History Month.


Episode 15 – Black History Month

In honor of Black History Month or maybe, as the discussion recognizes, in submission to it, we at Critical Distance are honored to be host to a discussion of three highly intelligent black critics to discuss both the concept of Black History Month and what it means to be black in video games and the wider culture. Now, I’ll just get out of the way and let them take it from here.


Mattie Brice: Alternate Ending

Zolani Stewert: The Fengxi Box

Evan Narcisse: Kotaku


Bow Nigger

The Arcade Review

Episode 25 – The History of Everyday Games

This month we are joined by game historian, University of Lancaster PhD candidate and editor-in-chief of Silverstring Media’s Critical Publishing arm, Zoya Street. Zoya has written two seminal books on games, Dreamcast Worlds and Delay, and is the founder of the wonderful free e-zine, Memory Insufficient. Here, we talk about his background in design history and what that lens means for videogames as artifacts as well as what isn’t said by the artifact itself, but rather is left to the community surrounding to interpret and define. Have a listen.

Direct Download


Dreamcast Worlds