The Trials and Tribulations of Historical Game Development
PAPER by Emil Hammar (UiB) at WARGAME Workshop 4: Player Perspectives


This presentation highlights the results of a qualitative study I conducted between January 2016 and November 2016. In this period, I held a series of interviews with developers of historical digital games. The sample pool includes university student productions, small-scale 'indie' producers, and large-scale 'AAA' titles. The informants provided key insights into how varying power relations factor into the development of historical digital games and revealed the informants' implicit and explicit stances towards these factors. The presented results provide evidence that the production of the past in digital games is, to a certain degree, contingent upon the political economy of the games industry and the other complexities of the material production process. The interview data thus reveal over-arching frames that predispose the production of historical titles across three different levels - local, national, and global - and show how developers negotiate power relations and memory politics at each of them.

My presentation will present and test the hypothesis about whether or not, cultural hegemony and material conditions of games production implicitly maintain and reproduce hegemonic visions of the past. While individuals do not necessarily consciously intend to reproduce received systems of power and hegemony, my collected data draws out how certain cultural and material relations tacitly motivate workers in the digital game industries to reproduce hegemonic power relations in cultural memory. Finally, I will develop the argument that the political economy of cultural production networks such as the games industry constitute important factors that need to be taken seriously in research on cultural memory and game studies.

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