How Videogames Portray the Past
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Virtual History examines many of the most popular historical video games released over the last decade and explores their portrayal of history.
The book looks at the motives and perspectives of game designers and marketers, as well as the societal expectations addressed, through contingency and determinism, economics, the environment, culture, ethnicity, gender, and violence. Approaching videogames as a compelling art form that can simultaneously inform and mislead, the book considers the historical accuracy of videogames, while also exploring how they depict the underlying processes of history and highlighting their strengths as tools for understanding history. The first survey of the historical content and approach of popular videogames designed with students in mind, it argues that games can depict history and engage players with it in a useful way, encouraging the reader to consider the games they play from a different perspective.
Supported by examples and screenshots that contextualize the discussion, Virtual History is a useful resource for students of media and world history as well as those focusing on the portrayal of history through the medium of videogames.
Table of Contents
List of Images and Tables
Introduction: History in the Videogame Age
1: Historians, Consumers, and the Videogame Industry
2: Theme and Mechanics
3: Contingency and Determinism
4: Economics and Resource-Management
5: Ecology and the Environment
6: Culture and Ethnicity
8: Violence and Oppression
Conclusion: The Future of the Virtual Past
A. Martin Wainwright is Professor and History Department Chair at the University of Akron, Ohio. He has authored two books on Britain and India’s interactions during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. He teaches courses on global history and the portrayal of history in videogames.
‘Amid the growing scholarship on videogames, gaming and historical enquiry, Virtual History offers a refreshing introduction to the broader debates about how—and why—video games offer new ways of viewing, consuming, and playing with the past. Tackling a range of complex issues about history, historiography, gender, ethics, economics, race and politics, Martin Wainwright has brought together a range of voices to give a walkthrough of the latest developments in the field. This book is highly recommended to all interested students, players and readers interested in what is at stake when we play with history on our screens.’
Andrew Elliott, University of Lincoln, UK