CCHU8004 Arts and Humanities
Historical Gaming: Re-inventing the Past in a ‘Post-truth’ Era


 

[This Common Core course is delivered in a Research Seminar format, a flexible learning structurefocused on collaborative research, project-based learning, public sharing of the students’ discoveries, and clear goals for impact. The course is a small transdisciplinary research project with between 6 to 16 students in which students and staff co-create the course. It is open to students from ALL Faculties.]

Course Description

In a present saturated by social media and often characterized as ‘post-truth’, powerbrokers in society reinforce their authority through the past. People encounter ‘history’ on screens, in museums and heritage sites in formats where discussion is closed down, events may be fabricated or finessed and inconvenient truths are obscured. In this mode the past functions as a pedagogical and political tool preserving authority. On the other hand academic history – given its emphasis on evidence, critical argument and open debate – claims to provide ‘truer’ accounts of the past. In this form, history can support critiques of dominant discourses, authority structures and identities. But since few people read academic history books this form of history is less accessible.

Can new technologies address this dilemma? As we produce increasingly visually accurate and rich simulated worlds games reach vast audiences, especially of younger people. Can they help provide a new medium for engaging with the past? This course challenges students to bring apply gaming tech to the disciplinary conventions of history to design immersive games or historical simulations combining truthfulness with playability. Students work to craft historical simulations enhancing players’ access to the past as a source of open-ended discovery and critical debate. No prior experience is necessary!

Application Method

Students who wish to take this course need to have fulfilled the following requirements:

  1. in Year 2 and above; and
  2. having already passed one course in the Arts and Humanities AoI and cannot have completed two

Students who are interested in taking this course and have fulfilled the above prerequisite requirements should apply to enroll on the course by email to commoncore@hku.hk together with a copy of

  1. academic transcript (student copy); and 
  2. letter from your home Faculty granting Advanced Standing / Credit Transfer for CC credits (if applicable). 

Application period: From now until September 15, 2020 (Tue) (4:00 pm) 

The selection of students will be performed by the course co-ordinator. Applications submited outside of the application period will NOT be considered.

Please note that in the event that a student has failed a CC Research Seminar, s/he will not be allowed to take another one.

Course Learning Outcomes

On completing the course, students will be able to:

  1. Explain the role played by historical awareness in addressing contemporary problems in society by engaging with the challenge of designing a historical game.
  2. Demonstrate knowledge of academic history and commercial gaming and effectively analyse how the best aspects of both might be combined in the form of a historical game.
  3. Use technology to create realize the effective representation of history in the form of playable, virtual simulacra.
  4. Communicate how the product effectively achieves the aim of enhancing access to the past as a source of critical, and open-ended discovery and debate.

Offer Semester and Day of Teaching

First semester (Wed)


Study Load

Activities Number of hours
Lectures 4
Tutorials 24
Fieldwork / Visits 10
Reading / Self-study 40
Assessment: Writing assignments 10
Assessment: Presentation (incl preparation) 24
Assessment: Project 24
Total: 136

Assessment: 100% coursework

Assessment Tasks Weighting
Project 50
Project presentation 20
Classwork and learning reflection 30

Required Reading

  • Champion, E. M. (Ed.). (2018). The phenomenology of real and virtual places. [Introduction]
  • Chapman, A. (2016). Digital games as history: How videogames represent the past and offer access to historical practice.[Chap. 7]
  • de Groot, J. (2009). Consuming History: Historians and Heritage in Contemporary Popular Culture. [Chap. 9]
  • Kapell, M., & Elliott, A. B. R. (2013). Playing with the past: Digital games and the simulation of history. [Conclusion]
  • McCall, J. (2019) Playing with the Past: History and Video Games (and why it might matter). Journal of Greek Studies, 6(1), 29-48

Course Co-ordinator and Teacher(s)

Course Co-ordinator Contact
Professor D.M. Pomfret
School of Humanities (History), Faculty of Arts
Tel: 3917 2865
Email: pomfretd@hku.hk
Teacher(s) Contact
Professor D.M. Pomfret
School of Humanities (History), Faculty of Arts
Tel: 3917 2865
Email: pomfretd@hku.hk