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 Come to class with one idea for how the historical content of your group project might be represented in this game.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?


Jeremiah McCall, “Historical Simulations as Problem Spaces: Criticism and Classroom Use,” Journal of Digital Humanities, Vol. 1, No. 2 (Spring 2012).

  • When you come to class, be ready to discuss what Jeremiah McCall’s argument is.
  • Do you play video games that have historical content?
  • If you were to design a historical game, what might it look like?

Group Blog Post(s)

1. By midnight Saturday, we need to see each group’s working bibliography. We’ve previously called this an inventory of artifacts, but now want a more formal and thorough presentation of your sources. This will be necessary for your final project anyway, so this gives you an opportunity to get started on it now.

2. 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.

  • Be as precise as you can in your description. If you are creating a map, say how it is helping articulate or visualize your argument. If you are using maps created by others, say why you’re doing so and what it adds to your argument. What is the data that you’re using in your mining, analysis, or visualization? Etc.
  • We will respond to these posts Monday morning. Be sure to read our responses prior to class on Monday.