Dr. Jeremiah McCall, an internationally recognized expert in the study of historical video games and their uses in the formal and informal study of history, travelled to the Ranney School in Tinton Falls, New Jersey, to give a workshop for Upper and Middle School history teachers on using video games and the Twine interactive text tool in their classes. Then he gave a talk as part of the Distinguished Speaker series at Ranney to Upper School students titled, Gaming the Past: Historying and Video Games (And Why It Might Matter), and a version keyed to parents in the afternoon. All three were very well received.
The synopsis of his talk: "Historying, communicating the past in a contemporary medium is something we all do, not just the textbooks and academics. Statues and paintings, plays and songs, books and webpages, toys, even snapchat and instagram stories. But it's video game histories that offer something unique: interactivity. Video games have been recognized as tools for teaching and learning for some time. But what is it that games about the past suggest about that past? How do commercially-designed video games offer a different take on people and places and events gone-by than texts and lectures. How can they inspire players to do their own historying, and in what ways do they pose problems for our understanding of issues like historical accuracy, representation, and diversity in the past and present? And how can players and parents of players approach these game histories with a critical eye?"
Dr. McCall, is the author of Gaming the Past: Using Video Games to Teach Secondary History (Routledge 2011) and maintains the leading website on historical video games, https://gamingthepast.net/. He has written several peer reviewed-articles and book chapters on the historical video games and many well-received blog essays (for a complete list see https://gamingthepast.net/theory-practice/my-work/). His most recent work in the field is "Videogames as Participatory Public History," in the Wiley Companion to Public History (2018), and a forthcoming chapter essay "Digital Legionaries: Video Game Simulations of the Face of Battle in the Republic" in Representations of Antiquity in Video Games: Playing with the Ancient World (Bloomsbury 2019).