Session 3 – What Really Happened?
After a great morning, and a pretty decent lunch with pretty great people, we are head into the last two panels of CGSA 2009. Kicking things off is Cindy Poremba with her talk Frames and Simulated Documents: Indexicality in Documentary Videogames which focuses on the game JFK Reloaded, and the representation of actual (historical) events within the game, how they are related to indexicality and what purpose it serves. She argues that the game is not about the reference to the real – the actual event – but to the resurrection of the archives of the event. Bringing indexicality into videogames serve two primary functions – (1. Bah! I was too slow to get this down before she moved on!) and anchoring the player into the “real world” in conjunction with the game-world. She continued on to talk about simulation and representation and the truth value of the claims being made through the use of them. The core of the presentation discussed the issues and problems that simulations present when used to offer motives and insights into the historical event itself. She wrapped it all up talking about the relationship between memory, experience, simulation and indexicality (apologies if my summary doesn’t actually do justice to her presentation, but I was busy paying attention 😉
The second presentation in this panel was presented by Stephanie Fisher (Originally titled Great Expectations: WWII Games and Informal History Education – However, the title was changed but did not have time to take it down before diving into the presentation). Dealing with the ways in which historical teaching and learning for K-12 education. Her introductory argument follows that the playing of WWII video games may lead to increase interest in, and learning opportunities about historical information (in this case WWII games such as Call of Duty and Medal of Honor). Key statements and 4 levels of appropriation for analytical use to explore how students use videogames to learn history (Pattern/result: the larger the role/investment WWII gaming plays In their lives, the higher level of potential appropriation).
- Level 1: Tangential Learning – may encourage specific research directions
- Level 2: Preconditioned Expectations – For gamers, it structured their historical thinking Preferred military history over other branches + in-depth examinations (characteristics of WWII FPS games); for non gamers, it expanded their knowledge
- Level 3: Safe Spaces – Entertainment-based source = contested information = safe space to practice historical skills (however, historical bias as per the market/reworking of the historical accuracy of the events portrayed in games)
- Level 4: Unsafe Spaces – Using the information learned in the ‘safe space’ outside of the game i.e. In the classroom
She wrapped up the presentation saying that history is often an unpopular class in school, and perhaps there is room for games to be used/brought into the curriculum.
Both presentations inspired flurry of questions on the relationship between game design, what is real and the player experience. In such cases, it is sometimes sad that there are only 10 minutes for questions for every two presentations.