Appropriative Memorial Play
Emil Lundedal Hammar, UiT Tromsø

Since popular media “holds a firm grip on the past” (Garde-Hansen, 2011, p. 2), this research paper aims to explore and uncover the ways in which social groups and identities affected by both historical and contemporary oppression and marginalization are enabled by memorial digital games to transgress and re-write their memorial oppression through ludic performances. If we consider digital games to be technologies designed as “explicit and tacit models of social and personal memory” (Van House & Churchill, 2008, p. 297), then they to various extents predispose how such memory is constructed and enacted (Foucault, 1977, p. 22). I utilize various cases and testimonies of enacted memory by people identifying as a member of an oppressed or as a marginalized social group (Clark, 2014) which point towards the emancipating and cathartic qualities of ludic memorial performances tied to identities associated with memorial oppression and marginalization. This is what I define as ‘appropriative memorial play’, which I then apply to two different digital games to test the rigidity of the concept.

Consequently, I make the argument that if we acknowledge this concept of appropriative memorial play and the testimonies supporting it, then digital games allowing for appropriative memorial play enable recognition of identities and memories associated with oppression and marginalization (Iser, 2013; Galeotti, 2002). I.e. given the historical and contemporary oppression of the groups and identities in question, I claim that digital games have the ability to appropriate hurtful memories and transform them into powerful play experiences. Finally, this should point towards future research pertaining to appropriation of memories through ludic performances enabled by the designs of digital games, as well as how practitioners not only are able to utilize this aspect to their advantage, but also how they in a sense possess the ability and power to positively rectify the reproduced memory of historical oppression and marginalization through appropriative memorial play.


Clark, Justin. “Black Steel In The Hour of Chaos: Assassin’s Creed and the Power of Representation.” Accessed November 19, 2014.

Foucault, Michel. “Film and Popular Memory: An Interview with Michel Foucault.” Radical Philosophy 11, no. 11 (1975): 24–29.

Galeotti, A. E. Toleration as Recognition. Cambridge University Press, 2002.

Garde-Hansen, Joanne. Media and Memory. Edinburgh University Press, 2011.

Iser, Mattias. “Recognition.” In The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, edited by Edward N. Zalta, Fall 2013., 2013.

Van House, Nancy, and Elizabeth F. Churchill. “Technologies of Memory: Key Issues and Critical Perspectives.” Memory Studies 1, no. 3 (2008): 295–310.

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