Like most ideas, The Gaming Historian originally began with a question.
Why are video games not studied and analyzed the same way that film and literature are?
This question came to me from a number of places. In December and January of 2012-2013, I decided that before playing Assassin’s Creed 3 (which had just recently been released) that I wanted to beat all the previous installments of the franchise, before playing the newest one. I started AC3 the night before classes started for my second semester of third year and so I was unable to beat the game before class started like I had wanted. This became a blessing in disguise and a partial catalyst to this project.
In this term I took Digital History taught by newly hired Dr. Ian Milligan (who I feel privileged to have as a supervisor and can call a friend). The outline of the class mentioned that we would be required to complete a final project that combined historical research and new age digital ideas. No idea originally jumped out at me and in all honesty all I could think about was going home and playing Assassin’s Creed.
There was no single defining moment that made me realize that games were to be my passion but it was a bit of an epiphany overtime. It eventually dawned on me that what I really wanted to do for my final project was link history with video games. After talking with my professor I decided that I would analyze a database of video games to attempt to map what eras of history were most popular in video games.
Then, one night during reading week over a bottle of wine (as most great ideas grow from), I finally had that ‘a-ha!’ moment. The question above popped into my head out of nowhere and I found myself writing down every idea I could think of that linked historical thinking and video games until I had filled up a few pages of a notebook. It was then that I realized that this project could be so much larger than just my final project for HIST 291 (now HIST 303) and so, The Gaming Historian was conceived. The first line to this section doesn’t tell the whole truth. It should have read: “Like most ideas, The Gaming Historian originally began with a question and one too many drinks.”
Video games and history and even digital history in general is a relatively unexplored topic in the historical community. After looking at the course calendars for all Ontario universities I found only 4 offered courses related to new digital media and the emerging topic of digital history and only 2 offered courses related to video games and history. Video games are still a ways away from being respected as the new age art form that they are but my hope is that sites like this can bring to light that video games deserve to be critically analyzed like literature and art.
Now, years later, this site has become something more. A place for me to fill in some thoughts on my research, a place to advertise my other work, and, best of all, a site that tells everything about me. This is the Gaming Historian, and this is me.