Full title: Gaming Past and Place: Understanding History Through Video Games

Project leaders: Dr Eve Stirling (Sheffield Hallam University) and Dr Jamie Wood (University of Lincoln)

Aim: To examine how people’s understanding of and engagement with the past and with place is structured digitally, especially through the playing of video games.


Stirling, E. and Wood, J. (2021). “Actual history doesn’t take place”: Digital Gaming, Accuracy and Authenticity. Games Studies 21.1. 

Stirling, E. and Wood, J. (2022). Learning About the Past Through Digital Play: History Students and Video Games. In R. Houghton, ed. Teaching the Middle Ages through Modern Games: Using, Modding and Creating Games for Education and Impact (Berlin: De Gruyter Oldenbourg), 29-46.


June 2015, MAMO conference, University of Lincoln: ‘Gaming Past and Place

November 2015, History and Gaming workshop, University of Huddersfield

April 2016, Hacking the Past, Sheffield Hallam University

June 2019, Digital Gaming, Past and Place: Accuracy, Authenticity and Agency, heritage dot, University of Lincoln

September 2022, The Agency of Assassin’s Creed: A Speculative Design Fiction, Video Games as a Common Ground, University of Zadar (virtual)

May 2024, Learning about the (medieval) past through digital gaming, International Congress on Medieval Studies, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo

Research questions

This project seeks to answer the following research questions:

  • How does playing video games affect individuals’ engagement with and understanding(s) of the past?
  • How, in particular, does playing video games help to develop an appreciation of place and space in the past?


The overall project will take place across three stages:

  1. Digital survey of historic video games users;
  2. A pilot study using the software tool Nativeye in order to chart the users’ experience;
  3. A ‘play day’ networking event.

Methodology (phase 1) 

An online digital survey will be emailed to upto 500 participants at the two institutions involved (Lincoln and SHU) and run from 1st March to 31st April 2015. The project focuses initially on students on the following courses at both institutions:

  • BA History
  • BA Design (Product, Interior, Games).

The survey is accessible here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *