Our next theme concerns how games connect and interact with “Memory”. We’re interested in exploring how games – as always, broadly defined – engage with memory, commemoration, cultural remembrance (and forgetting), remembrance practices and memory organisations. Our aim has always been to bridge the gap between academia, the games industry and cultural heritage organisations and to that end there is a wealth of existing and forthcoming work on games and memory.
The resurgence of memory in public discourse at the end of the twentieth century has been variously described as the ‘memory boom’ (Huyssen 1994, Terdimen 1995), the ‘memory industry’ (Klein, 2000) and the ‘memory wave’ (Kansteiner 2002). Since then, societal interest and the corresponding cultural significance that governments (in particular) have placed on the prominence and significance of memory as the framework for relating to the past has only accelerated. In the United Kingdom, for example, annual remembrance and commemorative services for the wars of the twentieth century have been reinforced through large-scale commemorative events such as the centennial of the First World War and the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings. Other commemorative events continue to shape national encounters with the past, including 9/11, the 2012 Olympics, Queen Elizabeth II’s platinum jubilee, and the more recent UK Commission on Covid commemoration. At the same time, we’ve seen institutions and society struggle to confront reinterpretation of the commemorative practices of previous eras from the ‘Rhodes Must Fall’ campaign to the removal of Confederate monuments and memorials across the United States, to the tearing down of a statue of slave trader Edward Colston during an anti-racism protest in Bristol, England. Our interpretation of commemoration and remembrance continues to be a flashpoint in the culture war.
With commemoration firmly embedded in societal and academic debate, the games industry has increasingly engaged with memory as a theme. Games have often used memory (or amnesia) as a narrative device. Games like Silent Hill: Shattered Memories (2009), Remember Me (2013), The Vanishing of Ethan Carter (2014), Stories Untold (2018) and A Memoir Blue (2022) have all used memory to present plotlines, story arcs and gameplay mechanics. At the same time both AAA and Indie development teams have engaged in exploring how games can better present war, conflict, and individual and collective trauma. The centennial of the First World War saw games such as Valiant Hearts (2014), Battlefield 1 (2016) and 11:11 Memories Retold (2018) all interpret remembrance in a different approach and style. Other games focused on war and conflict and their impact such as This War of Mine (2014), Attentat 1942 (2017), My Child Lebensborn (2018), The Light in the Darkness (2023) have garnered critical acclaim. Games such as Observation (2019) and Hindsight (2022) explore memory from the perspectives of Artificial Intelligence or of someone else.
For this theme, we invite contributors to think about the role of memory in, of and around historical games. What can games do with memory, as a mechanic, plot device or narrative frame? How do our own gaming experiences nurture nostalgia for platforms, systems, franchises, characters and environments? How do games use, engage and intersect with the wider memory industry? Can games be an effective container for commemoration and remembrance activities? How does the global game industry navigate the markets where national memory and remembrance practices differ widely based on varying interpretations of history? What are the tensions that exist between games as entertainment and games as experiences when dealing with differing accounts of the past? What is forgotten in the production and development of games that deal with the past and/or public memories? We aim to discuss the both the concept of memory in games and memories of games, and we are open to a wide range of interpretations of this theme.
Contributions to the Memory theme
#HGN provides a space to explore the conjunction of history and games, and we are seeking contributions to the theme from anyone interested in discussing Memory. Memory is an open theme, and we welcome contributions that consider how memory is used in and by games, through game mechanics, for remembrance and commemoration or in any other novel and dynamic ways. We are open to a range of formats and approaches: blog posts, book reviews, literature reviews and state-of-the-field posts, game criticism and reviews, event reviews, game analyses or post-mortems, podcast recordings, video essays, or any other type of creative contribution you might be interested in sharing. As a guide, we might expect written pieces to be in the region of 1,000-1,500 words, and video essays or audio recordings of around 5-10 minutes. However, if you have more to say, get in touch!
The Memory theme is our main focus for contributions until Tuesday 31 October, although you are welcome to submit material after that date. All material will be treated in line with our copyright statement (you can find this on our About page: TL;DR – it’s free, open access, and you can repost your work wherever you like).
Submission and editorial process
Please submit contributions via the email linked at the bottom of the page, and any queries or questions through the same route. Contributions will be assigned for editorial review to at least one member of the HGN editorial team, and we will supply feedback and suggestions for amendment, as appropriate, for any submissions received. Please note that we reserve the right to reject contributions which are unsuitable for the site, and to request and/or require specific editorial changes before publication to meet any legal, funding or support requirements or obligations.
We commit to respond to all submissions within two weeks, and to fix a publication date for accepted content at the earliest possible point.
HGN is an open access, public-facing project intended to connect people, and we neither charge nor pay a fee for editorial support and publication on our site.
Huyssen, A. (1995). Twilight memories: Marking time in a culture of amnesia. Psychology Press. New York: Routledge.
Kansteiner, W. (2002). Finding meaning in memory: A methodological critique of collective memory studies. History and Theory, 41:2 (May 2002), 179-197.
Klein, K. L. (2000). On the emergence of memory in historical discourse. Representations, 69, Special Issue: Grounds for Remembering (Winter 2000). 127-150.
Simine, S. A. D. (2013). ‘Memory boom, memory wars and memory crises’. Mediating Memory in the Museum: Trauma, Empathy, Nostalgia, Palgrave Macmillan Memory Studies. Palgrave Macmillan: London. 14-19. https://doi.org/10.1057/9781137352644_3 Terdiman, R. (1993). Present past: Modernity and the memory crisis. Cornell University Press.