Historical Games and Simulations

  • On Wednesday we are going to imagine a historical game based upon presidential elections. Come to class with one idea for how the historical content of your group project might be represented in this game.

Blogging and Group Work

  • If you’re behind on your group project — and you should know who you are —  use this time to make up lost ground.
  • We will carve out at least half of Wednesday’s class for technical questions around the production of your final project. Post any questions that you know you would like us to answer to the course blog by 8 am.
Project and Posts Review:
  • Revised presentation schedule
    • Guide to writing the paper will be coming
  • Information on Citation
  • Textual analysis
  • Where will your sites be located?
  • Blogs@Baruch questions?
  • Individual projects review
Reading Review:
  • What is meant by the notion of a “problem space”?
  • What characterizes the analytical limits of the historical games McCall examines? How does this impact the potential value of these games as products of scholarship, or teaching and learning tools?
    • “One absolutely should question whether the roles and goals selected for the players are historically legitimate.”
    • “One can rightfully question why each and every element of the game is portrayed as it is. But these questions should not be divorced from the consideration of the problem space as a whole, especially the historical roles and goals conceptualized by the designers.”
  • How do the qualities of historical game design intersect with and depart from the methods of doing scholarly or public history?
    • “A variety of players with roles: we would term them actors or agents, but the idea of the past being full of people who had choices, made decisions, played roles, and mattered is certainly well within the norm for historical sensibilities.”
    • “Players with goals: Games clarify goals; life obscures them …”
    • “Players and actions in physical space: … teachers and students too easily and often forget that humans in the past (and present) operated in physical, spatial contexts.” (environmental context creates “constraints and affordances”).
    • “Players with choices and strategies: Granted, philosophers can argue about whether anyone really has any choices whatsoever. Pragmatically speaking, however, historians speak in terms of choice and decisions. Furthermore, we as humans act and comprehend the world in terms of the choices we and others can make (even when we feel victimized and assign all the choice-making to those who seemingly harm us).”
  • If we were to design a game about presidential elections, what might it look like?

By midnight Sunday, your group must post to the blog a description of how your final project is fulfilling the distribution requirements. Remember, your projects must combine spatial history, data mining and analysis, textual analysis, and visual and aural artifacts:

Spatial history

For Spatial History,we plan to use this interactive map, because it showcase changes in national medical marijuana laws from 1995 to 2012. In addition, the color code is easy to follow, ranging from green to white gray. The green and lime green stats have legal medical Marijuana while gray and white gray stats represent where it has fail to pass and have any legalization medical marijuana bill. Next, is the interactive of the map, where when you click on a state it show the stats regulation/law regarding the medical marijuana. For example if you click on New York State on the map, a small text box pop up, with information stating New York is considering legislation for medical marijuana, with brief information  about the bill, what is then name of the bill and when was it introduce. Next is the easy to use handle bar on the top of the map, where it allow user to travel back in times to look at the map when the first medical marijuana was passed in 1996 in the state of California.

This map help strength our group argument because it showcase the changes over time on the stances on illegal drugs being more accepted into society. It show before 1996, there was no stats allow the uses of medical Marijuana, now in 2012, there are 17 stats that allow the uses of marijuana for medical purpose.


For visual we decide to showcase a TV ad by the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol  in Colorado, because in this video, it embody a messages that what is consider illegal drugs by federal standard, help US veterans to combat with the effect of his post-traumatic stress disorder.



data mining analysis, textual analysis, and aural artifacts.


Textual Analysis – This is pretty straight forward. There is a lot of information on the use of internet in presidential campaigns, especially in 2012. Our main priority was finding the best possible sources. We found many opinion articles and sites that cited others. We resisted the temptation to pick those sources no matter how easy it was to find them. We found sources that reinforce our argument and help answer our historical question.

Visual artifacts – We have graphs and tables that compare candidates’ PPC. We have screenshots of campaign websites from each election. We want to create a timeline on the home page of our website, that will include textual and visual data. Unfortunately, Timeline JS proved to be to difficult for us to use, so we are looking for an alternative.

Data mining – We are planning to use Voyant on the candidates’ social networking websites to determine the agenda of each campaign. In 2004, we found “fundraisers” being used regularly. In 2008, “change,” and “economy” in 2012. The candidates were using those words to connect with voters. We will attempt to show that the repeated usage of those words is an important strategy of the candidates.

Spatial history – We have talked about maps, but we couldn’t think of any that could help our argument. Since the “space” is online (internet), we don’t need traditional elements of spacial history, like maps. If we create the timeline, perhaps it can be the spacial element as well as a visual artifact.



Felipe Francois

2012 distribution

Each individual in our group is analyzing a specific election and using our own methods for spatial history, data mining and analysis, textual analysis, and visual and aural artifacts. This is because we are each covering unique elections in which the technology available varied significantly from the 1960s until modern times.

I plan to use data mining and analysis to construct my argument of the correlation between debates and outcome of the election in determining the winner. This includes statistical analysis of polling data before and after debates, along with graphs to support data. For visual artifacts, I will use videos from research organizations that were done on the same topic with more in-depth and conclusive research to help support our argument. Some of our aural artifacts will be YouTube clips of voters’ responses. There are also interactive maps from one of CNN’s own John King segments, but I’m not sure if I would be able to embed a working map into our website. These maps will be used to show turning points in the election before and after debates as a result of voter response to candidates. I will use textual analysis through newspaper articles from various prominent sources such as The New York Times and Huffington Post. We will also analyze debate transcripts through Wordle to see what words were frequently used, which might tell us what the important issues were for voters during the election.

Robert Sorenson

1992 distribution

To show important aspects of the 1992 presidential debates, and how they affect voting tendencies, I plan on using several methods to fulfill the requirements related to the assignment. Visual artifacts will be used, using images of each of the debates and images of particular moments that affected the viewers. Examples would be Bush’s infamous time check, Clinton becoming close and personal with his audience in a town hall debate format, and the layout of each debate. As this is visual, the aural aspect will be similar. I will embed videos that show important times of the debates, such as Perot’s humorous one liners that grabbed national attention, and attacks by Bush and Clinton on each other.These images and moments are iconic of the 92 debate and surely affected voters. I will show how this affected voters by using statistical numbers collected by CNN which polled voters after each debate and asked who they thought won each debate. This data will be used to create a graph of each, which is an analyzing tool. I have examined the transcripts of the first debate and inserted it into wordle, a means of textual analysis, wordle can show us what important themes were present for the debates. These themes are important because they relate to the viewers and a correlation can be made from the individual words and phrases used by each candidate and how it affected voters opinions. Certain words such as “money”, “economy”, and “country” are important to the public, especially since going into the ‘92 debate the economy was in the doldrums. This background info has helped me understand why Perot was such a contender because of his sharp business record. Interviews directly following each debate with random undecided voters gives an important insight into their opinions of the debate. I am using PBS interviews with people that are undecided, there are teachers, college students and manufacture workers that share their feelings towards each debate. As i analyze these interviews i can create an argument that tells an important story as to what issues touches them, and how it will affect their voting tendencies. Candidates who empathize job creation will certainly grab the attention of jobless voters (such as Clinton attacking Bush for the jobless rate at the time). Voters who are more concerned with the economic condition of our country will be intrigued by what Perot has to say because it was the underlying theme of his campaign. These are all aspects that influence voters on election day. Using these interview transcripts are an example of textual analysis.

Jordan Smith

1960 Distribution

Seeing as the debates of 1960 were the very first Presidential Debates ever to be televised, the general opinions and reactions of voters were extremely varied and possibly naive due to the initial shock of actually being able to see the candidates argue one on one. The visual nature of these debates played a massive role in the representation and coverage of each candidate throughout the media, and more importantly, in the eyes of the voters. Within my analysis of these debates I will focus largely on visual components to supplement my argument, such as actual footage of the debates, what pictures were printed in the newspapers of the time, and video/photographs taken on each campaign trail. The method of what is now modern campaigning, a process highly reliant on striking visual rhetoric, was born in the broadcast of the 1960 debates and I plan on bringing that spirit into my work.

The platforms for which voters could publicly voice their opinions regarding their perspective on the Presidential Debates of 1960 were very limited compared to those of 2012, and 1992 to a lesser degree. National polls, television interviews, newspaper editorials and letters will be my main source of primary textual evidence of the voters opinions. I am exploring the potential of Wordle in bringing some of the key themes to the surface, however, I am interested in finding a software in which I can find more complex strings or phrases within the testimonials of voters. As the primary voter opinion in 1960 is not as prevalent for examination compared to that of the other elections our group is studying, I will need to take the information I do have and apply different methods of analysis so as to extract the core of each message.


Textual analysis
During our research, we applied textual analysis method to all sources that we found. This involved asking the correct questions such as is this source primary or secondary, what article is talking about, what is the author’s personal position, is this a reliable source or not, and etc. As a result, this guided us to limit our research material and to focus only on what can be used to support the team’s argument. In some cases, textual analysis helped us to see that some sources do not provide objective and reliable information. In other cases, the method revealed that authors focus on meaningless and trivial information. So, our research will be based on the reliable and unbiased material.

Data mining and analysis
As we know, candidates make a lot of statements and promises in their speeches during their presidential campaign. While doing our research, we came across an archive that contains all speeches that Obama and Bush made during their presidential run. It is a long list of speeches and it would be difficult for us to analyze it in short time period. So, we used data mining application to analyze the large amount of text and identify a pattern. Specifically, we used Voyant (http://voyant-tools.org/) word cloud software in order to generate word cloud of these speeches. It is a great tool to analyze a speech because it immediately shows the key words that are frequently used in the text. Word cloud helps to effectively prove our argument by visually showing the pattern in the speeches of both candidates.

Visual and Aural artifacts
Artifacts such as photo images, videos and audio are very effective in supporting our argument. Just like transcripts of speeches, video recordings of candidates’ public addresses are considered to be primary sources. Videos that our group found on YouTube and C-SPAN will be instrumental to bring attention to the specific statements and promises the candidates made. It’s one of the most effective and reliable proves that later cannot be denied by either candidates or media.

Spatial history
Finally, we came across the detail information about what states candidates visited during their campaigns and how often. We are going to plot this data using Fusion Table and create a map that will visually present all US states visited by candidates using color gradation and label them with the number of times visited. This information emphasises the important role these states play in the final results of the presidential race.