cfp: Early Modernity and Video Games
We cannot think of modern society without also thinking of video games. And we also cannot think of video games without thinking of history. The number of games featuring historical content is enormous and growing on a daily basis. This also includes top-selling titles of the games industry. For the science of history this automatically means that the presentation of historical content in those games has to be questioned as well as the conceptions of history they embody. The conference aims at providing grounded perspectives in this field by the study of concrete examples from a clearly defined sample from the range of video games with historical background. Early modern history is to be the epochal focus. Unfortunately the findings in this field so far are somewhat abstract because some problems regarding video games have not been satisfactorily solved up until now. Under this come the difficulties to correctly cite from nonlinear sources that are exemplified by video games. Because this kind of sources is growing fast due to the increasing spread of nonlinear internet content historians as well as other scholars of the humanities are challenged to develop adequate methodologies to deal with the complexities involved. Video games could turn out to be a prime lever here. The – compared to the popularity of the medium – relatively few studies so far have mostly shown the medium to restrict its contents, and subsequently not to present a conception of history that historical academia would like to find there.
But also questions relating to the presentation of basal categories as space, time and people in video games with historical backgrounds are to be answered here. We see early modernity in a structurally and process-oriented way rather than strictly chronologically and Eurocentric and pursue a flexible, globally and locally oriented approach to early modernity that makes room for non-simultaneities. The strategies and staging mechanisms video games use to integrate history shall thus be clearly illustrated by examples as concrete as possible. This shall help to disclose the programs, mechanisms, and strategies video games use to integrate history and to construct recognisable historicity – and: if and why gamers accept them.
The scope of possible methods of citation and presentation shall be wide – creativity is encouraged.
We do not want to to describe video games as deficient from the perspectives of established research agendas. We instead will try to respect the video game as a medium in its own right and to look into its momentums and intrinsic logics in a creative, innovative and constructive way but without relativising our scientific positions and methods, holding an open-minded yet critical distance.
The conference explicitly addresses not only historians but wants to reach out across all disciplinary boundaries. Prof. Dr. Angela Schwarz (Siegen University) and Prof. Dr. Rolf Nohr (HBK Braunschweig) are going to speak at the conference.
Proposal relating to the following questions are accepted:
1. How can video games, being a nonlinear type of sources, be adequately cited and described as exactly as it is possible with linear sources?
2. How are space and time as basal categories of experience presented in video games connected to Early Modernity?
3. Which functions do separate landscape elements have in regard to the overall construction of particular game titles?
4. How are people presented in exemplary titles?
5. Which special markers are used to demarcate the epoch of Early Modernity clearly in particular games?
6. Which relation exists between the integration of the player in the game and the grand narratives of particular titles?
7. Which codes are used to inscribe stereotypical patterns of behaviour into particular games?
8. How does a medium as keyed to suspense as the video game handle the actual long-term development of historical events?
Proposals for 20-minute-presentations consisting of an one-page abstract, short CV and list of publications should be sent to Florian Kerschbaumer [florian.kerschbaumer] und Tobias Winnerling [winnerling] until May 15th, 2012. Conference languages are German and English. Publication of the proceedings is intended.


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