History in Games

Contingencies of an Authentic Past

Where do we end up when we enter the time machine that is the digital game? One axiomatic truth of historical research is that the past is the time-space that eludes human intervention. Every account made of the past is therefore only an approximation. But how is it that strolling through ancient Alexandria can feel so real in the virtual world? Claims of authenticity are prominent in discussions surrounding the digital games of our time. What is historical authenticity and does it even matter? When does authenticity or the lack thereof become political? By answering these questions, the book illuminates the ubiquitous category of authenticity from the perspective of historical game studies.

€35.00 * $40.00 *

21 October 2020, 284 pages
ISBN: 978-3-8376-5420-2

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Martin Lorber

Martin Lorber, Universität zu Köln, Deutschland

Felix Zimmermann

Felix Zimmermann, Universität zu Köln, Deutschland

1. Why did You chose this topic?

Discussions about the authenticity of historical game worlds are as old as the field of research itself. In recent years, however, this discussion has gained momentum in historical game studies because the concept of authenticity has been further developed and emancipated from the idea of factuality and accuracy. In November 2019, a section at the 10th Clash of Realities conference in Cologne consequently devoted itself to this topic. This is the origin of the volume.

2. What new perspectives does your book offer?

The volume shows how the concept of authenticity can be productively used in historical game studies. The central thread running through the volume is that authenticity is fundamentally political and that discussions about what is considered or perceived as authentic must always have power structures in mind. The book contains both fundamental theoretical contributions and concrete examples of game analysis showing how authenticity manifests itself in games and the discussions surrounding them.

3. What makes your topic relevant for current research debates?

Historical game studies increasingly ask how, why and to what effect historical imagery manifests itself in games. Of particular interest are the expectations of the players and the objectives of the developers. Both are inextricably linked to an idea of authenticity that is negotiated between these parties. The present volume thus contributes to the understanding of a key concept without which historical games and their contexts of production and reception can only be inadequately described.

4. Choose one person you would like to discuss your book with!

I would love to discuss our anthology with Maxime Durand. Maxime works as a so-called "franchise historian" on the Assassin's Creed series at the game company Ubisoft. I am convinced that as game researchers we can especially benefit from the insights of game developers. Their perspective on authenticity may often differ from a scientific understanding, but it is invaluable for understanding how globally successful historical worlds are created.

5. Your book summary in one sentence:

The anthology positions authenticity as a highly dynamic, always contested, and inherently political term in historical game studies.

Martin Lorber / Felix Zimmermann (eds.)
Book title
History in Games Contingencies of an Authentic Past
transcript Verlag
kart., Dispersionsbindung, 11 Farbabbildungen
Commodity Group
SOC052000 SOC022000
Release date
21 October 2020
Popkultur, Medien, Digitalisierung, Kulturgeschichte
Historical Science, Game Studies, Political Science
Authenticity, Games, History, Memory Culture, Media, Popular Culture, Cultural History, Computer Games, Digital Media, Media Studies

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