Themes, and a Call for Contributions

If you’re wondering what’s coming up on #HGN, or you would like to contribute to the discussions on the site, read on! 

As you might already have seen, our first theme – Historical Truth – is now underway, with a first post from our Event Chair, Adam Chapman. You will be able to find content from the theme here, along with the theme provocation. The theme will run until the end of May, and you can sign up for the theme event here.

Our second theme, which will launch when Historical Truth comes to an end(!), focuses on the broad range of ethical issues and complexities that exist around historical games. Ethics is an open theme, and a call for contributions appears below. The theme launches in the week commencing 30 May 2021, and will run until the end of August, with a theme event at the beginning of September. Content from the theme will be available here, and this is how we’re framing it:

Although public debates around historical games have given a great deal of thought to issues of accuracy, and to the representative powers and affordances of these media, attention to the ethical dimensions of such games has been more limited. Historical sensitivities are rarely foregrounded in discussions which are more likely to focus on verisimilitude than cultural appropriation, or on ‘how?’ rather than ‘should?’ Scholars have highlighted a range of ethical issues in historical games, which emerge for example in the representation of archaeology (e.g. Dennis, 2016), the treatment of highly sensitive and traumatic events (e.g. Pfister, 2016; Chapman and Linderoth, 2015) or counterfactual depictions of real individuals in ways which are disrespectful (e.g. Mukherjee, 2017). This work exists alongside an increasing acknowledgement of the extensive use of colonialist mechanics and dispositions – issues which we will discuss in more detail in our summer theme.

Is it impossible, then, to produce games about difficult or (un)popular historical subjects or people in ways which seem ethical and respectful from all standpoints? If not, which historical games are successful ethical projects, and what do they do that is distinctive? Where and how are the ethical principles that underpin so much good historical, archaeological or heritage work put into practice in games? And in light of the breadth of affordances that historical games now offer, to what extent do ethical issues stop with game makers? How much ethical responsibility rests with the players of historical games? Their fans and modders? Or for that matter, their regulators, or their reviewers?

Contributions to the Ethics theme

As we say, Ethics is an open theme, and we’re hoping network members will want to add to the discussion. #HGN provides a space to explore the conjunction of history and games, and we’re seeking contributions to the theme from anyone interested in discussing ethical matters in and around that conjunction. 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 and we can talk.

The Ethics theme is open for contributions until Friday 21 May. We will post content received during the period 30 May to 31 August. All material will be treated in line with our copyright statement (you can find this on our About page but 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.