Articles

Blog posts and articles written by Play the Past authors, and guest authors.

We discussed Ethan Watrall’s foundational role in The Story of Play the Past, with regards to the Play the Past website, and community. Because of the demands and responsibilities incumbent to his role as Play the Past founder and manager—not to mention his academic career—Watrall’s writerly contributions on the blogContinue Reading

Ten years ago to this day, on November 17, 2010, Ethan Watrall officially launched a new blog, “Play the Past“, dedicated to a small community of scholars and enthusiasts, seeking an on-line venue to discuss ideas about the new culture of “gaming history”. Hosted by Watrall at Michigan State University’sContinue Reading

LUNA Library Book

This article compares LUNA’s in-game library to real-world libraries and examines the influences of real-world library design in the game. I also discuss the puzzle and how it turns the player and characters into various library roles and librarian models, such as patron, reference desk librarian, and roaming librarian. Finally, Lai discuss the trope of the magical library, and how this trope allows audiences to appreciate the library as a place of mystery, as well as place of knowledge.Continue Reading

Cards from the Lord of the Rings Living Card Game

The analogy is imperfect, but if we compare that difference in progression style between the epics to the different kinds of scenario deck(s) in the LCGs, and the difference among books (really, more properly, oimai [‘threads’]) within the epics to the different mechanics in each game among differing scenarios, the broad shape of a comparison begins to appear. Continue Reading

Cards from the Lord of the Rings Living Card Game

The LCG’s unique way of doing epic — that is, of allowing its player to perform their own recomposed elaborations of the storyworlds’ narrative materials — stems from the nexus of the ludic and the narrative to be found in these scenario-making cards. There’s a deceptively simple comparison to be made with what we know as the books of the Iliad and the Odyssey, which almost certainly originate in individual songs that a bard might have sung on a given occasion.Continue Reading

Distorted takes on indigenous culture and experience abound in games – some egregious, others more subtle. As we will see, some developers even strive to challenge colonialist assumptions; yet, many of the design and narrative choices they make remain problematic. Challenging these blinders will require a new set of game development practices, based on direct collaboration with indigenous developers.Continue Reading

The historical problem space framework (HPS) is a holistic, medium-sensitive, design-focused framework for analyzing and understanding, designing, and teaching with historical games. It is, above all, meant to focus practically on how designers craft historical games, based on an understanding that games are mathematical, interlocking, interactive (playable) systems.Continue Reading

Cards from the Lord of the Rings Living Card Game

Let’s start with the cards themselves. They work like epic formulae (e.g. the “cunning” in “cunning Odysseus”) but with game-mechanics, and with pictures, some of them lovely and some merely serviceable. In homeric epic, certain formulae — the epithets every student remembers, like podas okus “swift-footed,” periphron “thoughtful,” and polumetisContinue Reading

This is a guest post by Alvina Lai. Alvina holds an MS in Library and Information Science from Pratt Institute, and a BFA in Photography and BA in Creative Writing from The New School. Their writing appears in The Mary Sue, Brooklyn Botanic Garden, and the NYT’s “Metropolitan Diary”; allContinue Reading

Civ V Tesla Coil

As I discussed in my previous article, the idea that there is a direct, linear relationship between science and technology, also known as the “assembly line” model favored by policymakers (Kline, 1995), though often taken for granted in videogame mechanics, doesn’t stand up to even a passing glance at history.Continue Reading