Historical Games Network

By Nick Webber on April 15th, 2021

On Wednesday, Esther Wright (Cardiff), Iain Donald (Abertay), Adam Chapman (Independent) and I launched the Historical Games Network site. The site emerges from the community on the Historical Game Studies Facebook group, and responds to the growing interest in the relationship between history and games in scholarly, professional and public circles. We aim to bring together academics, game makers and other cultural workers to explore the relationship between history and games of all kinds. We’re particularly keen to support and platform new voices in the field, and to address a broad audience, both within and beyond the academy.

This site has been some time in the making. Following the Present and Future of History and Games conference in Warwick in February 2020, we started a discussion about how we might take advantage of the momentum from the event to build something more substantial. We were keenly aware of how many colleagues working in this area, including many of those at the conference, were precariously employed or were unaware that this intellectual field even existed. We set out to create a space to support these cultural workers and scholars in developing and sharing their work, recognising the responsibility and opportunity that we have through our own established university roles.

In putting the network together, we were influenced by activities like In Media Res – regular, accessible material curated around a theme. Alongside this, we wanted to run a series of events, and work towards some longer-term goals, including a journal and an annual conference for the growing field of Historical Game Studies, as well as a series of industry/public-facing activities such as game jams and workshops. We have been fortunate to secure some funding from the InGAME project to get the network site up and running, and to support our initial run of activities. We also have the support of British DiGRA, the UK chapter of the Digital Games Research Association.

The network is structured around a series of quarterly themes, with a run of posts and contributions (blog posts, but also reviews, creative contributions, etc.) leading up to an event at the end of each theme period. Our first theme is ‘Historical Truth’, as we wanted something which would be provocative and offer a good space for debate. Future themes will include ‘Ethics’, ‘(Post)Colonialism’ and ‘Education’, all topics of current debate in relation to history and games. Our first event takes place on 26 May 2021, at 15:00 UTC (16:00 BST), and will be a panel discussion between Ylva Grufstedt (University of Helsinki, Finland), Javier Rayón (Imertual, Mexico) and John Glancy (Imperial War Museum, UK), chaired by our own Adam Chapman.

If any of this piques your interest, you can find more about the what and the why of the HGN on our blog, and find us on Twitter @HistoryGamesNet. There’s also a mailing list you can sign up to on our website. We’ll announce tickets for the first event, as well as a call for contributions for our second theme, ‘Ethics’, soon!