1st Edition

Games of History Games and Gaming as Historical Sources

By Apostolos Spanos Copyright 2021
    200 Pages 4 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    200 Pages 4 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Games of History provides an understanding of how games as artefacts, textual and visual sources on games and gaming as a pastime or a “serious” activity can be used as sources for the study of history.

    From the vast world of games, the book’s focus is on board and card games, with reference to physical games, sports and digital games as well. Considering culture, society, politics and metaphysics, the author uses examples from various places around the world and from ancient times to the present to demonstrate how games and gaming can offer the historian an alternative, often very valuable and sometimes unique path to the past. The book offers a thorough discussion of conceptual and material approaches to games as sources, while also providing the reader with a theoretical starting point for further study within specific thematic chapters. The book concludes with three case studies of different types of games and how they can be considered as historical sources: the gladiatorial games, chess and the digital game Civilization.

    Offering an alternative approach to the study of history through its focus on games and gaming as historical sources, this is the ideal volume for students considering different types of sources and how they can be used for historical study, as well as students who study games as primary or secondary sources in their history projects.


    1. Conceptual approaches to games

    2. Material approaches to games

    3. Games of culture

    4. Games of society

    5. Games of politics

    6. Games of metaphysics

    7. The gladiatorial games as a historical source

    8. Chess as a historical source

    9. Sid Meier’s Civilization as a historical source



    Apostolos Spanos is a professor of history at the University of Agder, Norway. His interests lie in games and gaming as historical sources, rethinking the phenomenon of innovation in historical terms, historical dimensions of time, and the use of concepts in historical studies.

    'Games of History is a fascinating, thoughtful and sweeping tour of the cultural function of games throughout history. Taking a broad historical and global sweep of games and gaming, Spanos thinks through the ludic value and the important societal contributions made by games and games concepts throughout society.'

    Andrew ElliottUniversity of Lincoln, UK