gaming as “history”

Blog post: Gaming and History Education

As someone who has not ever really played video games, my initial response to the assertion that they could be a useful platform for the telling of a historical narrative was skeptical at best. However, after reading the articles on the “Assassin’s Creed” and “JFK Assassination” games, I began to see how one might use these platforms to appeal to students who might not otherwise have any interest in history or historical events. If these platforms are done correctly, there could be great potential for the interdisciplinary use of video games and history. The Katy Meyers article discussing the potential lessons of the “Assassin’s Creed” franchise for educators, outlines several ways in which historians and educators of history could potentially use the “game” platform to make interaction with history more tangible and hands on. Meyers asserts that, “If the educational objectives are blended with the game play, the player will be more likely to actively engage in them and less likely to ignore them in favor of the mechanics alone.” She sees this as potentially one of the most important lessons that educators of history can learn from the gaming community: how to move beyond the simple lecture/quiz/test model of history education to engage with students more deeply.

Ultimately, I feel this is the most important lesson of this section, this course and indeed, the Digital Humanities field. As historians, it can be easy to forget that many people do not share our affinity for the past. From a personal perspective, the kind of history that I was taught in school and in my early university career did very little to engage me, or force me to interact with the history on a personal level, and I suspect that is why many people find history to be boring when it is truly nothing of the sort. If we, as historians can represent historical analysis in an exciting, dynamic, and engaging way, using visual data representation, gaming platforms integrated with historical education, and a hands on, first person perspective, we might find more people are excited about the prospects of historical scholarship and why it is relevant in the current age.

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