Contested Memories of War in CZ 38-89: Assassination: Designing a Serious Historical Game

Assistant professor Vít Šisler from Charles University in Prague speaks about the design process and didactic rationale behind the serious hisotrical game Czechoslovakia 38-89: Assassination (Charles University in Prague/Czech Academy of Sciences, 2015).

The lecture critically discusses the possibilities and limitations of video games to deal with contentious and emotionally charged issues from contemporary history, in particular the civilian perspective and trauma of war. By doing so, it briefly examines how history and war are represented in mainstream video games and, subsequently, how these dominant frames of representation are challenged and refashioned within the emerging genre of serious historical games. Regarding the latter, this paper focuses on a case study of Czechoslovakia 38-89: Assassination, a serious game on contemporary history, which we have developed at the Charles University in Prague and the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic in 2015. Specifically, it considers how Czech historical memory of the Second World War is being presented through the game and critically discusses the design challenges stemming from adapting the real-persons’ – oftentimes emotionally and ethically loaded – testimonies in order to construct the in-game narratives. In particular, the paper discusses the intersections and tensions between educational aims and gameplay, authenticity and fictionality, and gaming and learning mechanics. Finally, this lecture critically investigates the perception and acceptance of Czechoslovakia 38-89: Assassination by Czech teachers and students, as well as Czech general public.

Vít Šisler is assistant professor in New Media Studies at Charles University in Prague and lead designer of the educational historical game Czechoslovakia 38-89: Assassination. His visit is a result of the EEA grant Virtual Memories and the research group WAR/GAME at the HSL faculty UiT Tromsø.

Video recording of the lecture available [].

The project Virtual Memories benefits from a €48,000 grant from Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway through the EEA Grants and Norway Grants. The aim of the project is to to strengthen and further develop the collaboration between Charles University and UiT Tromsø.

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