As part of the larger Challenge the Past/Diversify the Future conference to be held in Gothenburg, Sweden on March 19th-21st, 2015, the organisers would like to draw attention to this specific additional call fo papers on historical representations in games.
History is often claimed to be something in decline. In the past few decades the same discourses have been repeatedly revisited throughout the world. Typically these debates surround issues such as the state of history education, public knowledge of the past and the fear that too few students study too little history in schools. Whilst these arguments undoubtedly have validity in some cases, generally they rest on the notion that “history” is a thing synonymous with only official, educational, institutionalised and professional forms, accounts and practices. Such perspectives generally ignore the role of the everyday, the local and the familial. This means that both the significance of the popular histories found in mainstream media and the nature of history as an active process of remembering performed by the public as well as professional historians, is often missed.
The huge sales of historical game series, such as Assassin’s Creed, Civilization, Brothers in Arms and Age of Empires, belie such flawed assumptions. By firstly being increasingly everyday, but also by being systems that allow their audiences to actively engage in historical practices such as historical (and often counterfactual) narrative experimentation and re-enactment. These are also practices that have generally previously remained elusive to mainstream popular practice. Such games therefore offer popular ‘historying’ and are significant in their potentially influential role as one of today’s most successful forms of history.
This makes the consideration of the process of representation in historical games, the ludic aesthetics of historical description, vitally important. As such, we invite authors to theorise about the effects that the game form has for historical representation, whether considered on its own terms or in comparison to other media. However, neither are historical games a neutral form for representation that exists in a commercial and cultural vacuum. As such we are particularly interested in the ideological and political aspects and implications of historical games and thus also invite papers considering issues of power and diversity in these games.
Historical games can challenge old pasts and diversify the future of history by allowing players to create transgressive or experimental histories and by opening up historical practices to new audiences and allowing them to become part-authors of their historical experience. However, there is clearly still work to be done. Historical games are also often used to reassert problematic (for example, colonialist and imperialist) ideologies, grand narratives and historical epistemologies and often contain hegemonic or exclusionary representations of race, gender, and sexuality. This, alongside the relative lack of work on some of these topics in relation to historical games and the popularity of said games, mean that these are issues that must be discussed and which we hope will begin to be addressed at the conference.
Given these concerns, we particularly invite papers on the following topics, but also welcome other work on historical games. (PLEASE NOTE: submissions on all kinds of historical games, whether digital or non-digital, are welcome):
- Representations of gender in historical games
- Representations of race in historical games
- Representations of sexuality in historical games
- The relation of historical games to jingoistic, nationalistic, colonialist or imperialist grand narratives or ideologies
- The relation of historical games to transgressive history
- Western-centrism and historical games
- The pressures that the game form exerts on history and the process of historical representation
- The new opportunities for historical representation that the gameform creates
- The influence of the critical and commercial culture surroundinghistorical games
- The role of historical games in education
- Historical games and epistemology
Abstracts for research papers (20 min.) and workshops will be accepted until December 18th, 2014. The abstracts should be a maximum of 300 words in English.
Submit your abstract to firstname.lastname@example.org Follow us on twitter @ctp2015
For questions, or requests for additional information related to this CFP, please contact us via e-mail at the above address. For more general information on the conference and to get the latest news on keynote and plenary speakers, please contact us or register for our newsletter by sending us an email at email@example.com or by visiting challengethepast.com
Details for registration and accommodation will be announced soon.
Postdoctoral Fellow in Historical Game Studies
Department of Education, Communication and Learning
University of Gothenburg
Visit the website at http://challengethepast.com