Representing the Past: Video Games Challenge to the Historical Narrative

Stephen Ortega

Abstract


The rise of digital media is changing the classroom and influencing our understanding of traditional academic subjects like history. With digital media, specifically video games, students are able to see how individual actions affect the course of history within spatially defined (rather than temporally defined) representations of historical action and exigency. Further, we are able to gain insight into cultural attitudes and patterns of historical thinking as reflected through game narratives and actions. This syllabus asks students to examine how social and geographical choices in video games influence historical patterns and outcomes in games and how these concepts can be used to understand contemporary issues. Students also consider how digital media has influenced—and continues to influence—cultural, historical, political, and social landscapes along with ways of thinking cross-culturally. In doing so, students are assigned readings and video games, projects and presentations, and essays.


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ISSN 2163-3177

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