Likely Topics

  1. A history of games, and of video games
  2. Historical Consciousness & Worldview
  3. Material culture, and the digital: software exists in the physical world
  4. Simulation & Practical Necromancy: representing the physical world in software
  5. Living History, LARPing, ARGs and AR: History, the Killer App
  6. Museums as gamed/gameful spaces
  7. Gamification and its bastards: or, nothing sucks the fun out of games like education
  8. Rolling your Own: Mods & Indies
  9. The politics of representation

These sessions will be rolled over 12 weeks.


Evaluation: Your grade is composed of the following elements.

  • Weekly challenges: These will include crafting responses to the readings using Twine; playing and responding to others’ Twines; critical play of significant games in video game history; blogging these experiences. See individual modules on cuLearn for the specifics.
  • Midterm project: An interactive fiction of your favourite academic paper that you have written such that a player playing it could argue the other sides you ignored in your linear paper. Construct it in such a way that the player/reader can move through it at will and still engage with a coherent argument. (See for example ‘Buried’ You will use the Twine platform.
  • Summative Project: Minecrafted History

Minecrafted History

You will design and build an immersive experience in Minecraft that expresses ‘good history through gaming’. There will be checkpoints to meet over the course of the term. Worlds will be built by teams, in groups of 5. Worlds can be developed within three broad themes:


You will need to obtain source maps; you will digitize these and translate them into Minecraft. We will in all likelihood be using Github to manage your projects ( The historical challenge will be to frame the game play within the world that you have created such that it expresses good history. You will need to keep track of every decision you make and why, and think through what the historical implications are of those decisions.

The final build will be accompanied by a paradata document that will discuss your build, that will detail all sources used (Harvard Style), that will reference all appropriate literature, and that will explain how playing your world creates ‘good history’ for the player. This document should reference Fogu, Kee et al, and the papers in Elliot and Kappell at a miminum. More information about ‘paradata’ and examples may be found at Due the first session on the last week of term, so that we can all play each others’ worlds. The in-class discussion that will follow in the second session is also a part of this project’s grade. Your work-in-progress may also be presented at Carleton’s GIS Day (3rd Wednesday in November)

(Ideally, I would like to make these worlds publicly available at the end of the term, for the world to play).

  • Weekly Challenges: you will choose your three best pieces for assessment, explaining why these are your best work.  30%
  • Midterm   20%
  • Minecrafted History 40%
  • Paradata Document 10%

I reserve the right to grade group work on an individual basis.

Hello world!

This is the course blog for #hist3812a video games and simulations for historians, Fall 2014 edition, at Carleton University, Ottawa Canada. Students will be posting to this blog as part of their course work. It will also host their own Twine created games, as well as other bits and bobs as we progress.

The core text we’ll be using is Playing with the Past. The header image is from the Rome Reborn project, a procedurally-generated view of the circus at Rome (Image © 2008 Procedural, Inc.; this constitutes fair use).

I’m Shawn Graham. I blog at Electric Archaeology. This is perhaps my most favorite class to teach.