The use of historic figures in popular culture and video games runs a wide gamut. Sometimes they are employed to create an atmosphere of authenticity, Assassin Creed series, at other times they are employed for odd counterfactual commentary on the American condition, see Bioshock. This current exploration looks at the use of some seminal anti-heroes in Call of Juarez: Gunslinger published by Ubisoft in 2013 for all major platforms. In this version of the Call of Juarez series, the central figure, Silas Greaves, relives his past exploits in a saloon in Abeliene, KS in 1910. His small audience is keenly interested in his life as a bounty hunter and his connections and friendships to real individuals from the late 19th century American West.Read More
Welcome to the Center for History of Video Games and Critical Play's Blog. This space is dedicated to publishing work that encourages gamers, scholars and students to consider how video and other games offer unique ways of looking at history and history pedagogy, the interpretation of games, game play, and the impact of games on culture. In doing so we hope to create a space where we engage in an academic conversations that focus on representations of history and historical narrative in both World and American histories through a variety of video and tabletop games. The work here will investigate the assumptions that guide such representations of history and analyze the extent to which the medium of history-themed video games can bring new questions and perspectives to academic history and history education.
Welcome to The Hall of Historic Heroes, the first edition of what we hope will become a weekly feature on our blog. In these posts we’ll briefly explore American exceptionalism as it appears in video games (both past and present) and/or in video game advertisements or box art.Read More
Last week, Rockstar Games revealed the third trailer for the long anticipated and oft delayed “Red Dead Redemption 2.” Many in the game press and community were impressed with the visual impact of the trailer and the stunning graphics of the various cut scenes that the trailer highlights, noting the attention to detail and cinema like qualities – qualities that also revel in the mythic images and Hollywood tropes that plague this style of game, making players complicit in the reinforcement of Turnerverian ideals. The game’s trailer does what countless other westerns, both contemporary and those dating back to Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, do: they stage a West that blends both history and myth together in a way that for the player/observer legitimates Manifest Destiny, elevates violence as a marker of masculinity, celebrates the triumph of civilization over savagery, and equates both with the extension of freedom over untamed frontier. And like the creators of the westerns that came before, Red Dead’s developers see no hypocrisy in lamenting the passing of this era and the emasculation of white men at the hands of the same civilizing processes they celebrate. In the trailer, Rockstar both celebrates the mythic West that purportedly redefined masculinity and brought civilization and modernity to the frontier while simultaneously mourning its passing.Read More
The Victoria and Albert Museum in London will be hosting an exhibition and residency that focuses on video games and game design from the early 2000s. According to their website, the show will feature, "from concept art to moving footage, prototypes, character design sketches, and interactive installations." As the article points out this exhibition joins a growing interest in video games as a form of art worthy of a museum's attention (the Smithsonian and MoMa have hosted similar exhibitions in the past few years).
Read more at https://www.wallpaper.com/art/victoria-and-albert-museum-video-games-exhibition#Z4gw7EhwXxXkHbyz.99
Recently, one of our favorite history and video games podcasts explored the portrayal of race and the role of the American Civil Rights movement in Bethesda Softworks Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus. Rather than take on the obvious themes of the game Bob Whitaker, John Harney and Robert Green engage in a compelling conversation about the African American experience and how it's represented in this counterfactual history of America. It's a great conversation that raises some interesting topics and we think it's important to support work like this. Listen to it here or visit their Youtube page.