Chiara Bonacchi

Gaming the past

Hello all! Today I’m writing an article – indeed hoping to finish writing it – about the entertaining world of computer games which deal with the past. This is for a book about digital engagement strategies for archaeology being edited by Chiara Bonacchi of the Institute of Archaeology. Archaeologists have written quite a bit about other forms of media portrayal of the past, but not so much about computer games (with a few notable exceptions including fellow DofA blogger Shawn Graham). They are such a big cultural phenomenon – and business – today though that they shouldn’t be ignored, especially as they are already engaging lots of people’s interest in the past.

I’m looking particularly at strategy games like Civilization. While we can criticise various aspects of the way such games model the past, I don’t want to dwell on that and instead aim to draw attention to the vibrant fan communities and ‘modding’ scene, with players actively contributing new content to a game’s development. Later on I’ll post some links to a couple of websites which demonstrate the breadth of engagement that’s already happening through this medium.