Paizomen’s Second Blog Post Series: Starting Next Week!

Following the tradition started by last year’s series of blog posts on video games and the ancient world, this site posted a new call to scholars, students, and game designers for a second iteration of this initiative. Once again, we have received a number of amazing contributions by equally amazing authors, and we are very much looking forward to sharing these texts with you all. Starting next week, Paizomen will be publishing two blog series, with one post per series published each week.

Series #1: Entering The Forgotten City (weekly on Tuesday)

As we noted in our call for blog posts, the rapidly developing field studying the reception of classical antiquity in video games has not yet produced academic volumes dedicated to a single media text. This situation is different in other realms of popular classical reception studies (such as film or television) or in wider historical game studies. With this first series (edited in collaboration with Maciej Paprocki), Paizomen hopes to begin to fill this lacuna, with different authors providing different perspectives on a single game.

The Forgotten City (2021, Modern Storyteller) proved itself well-suited for these case studies. As a game that brings together a diverse cast of historical characters from different parts of the Roman Empire and spins an intriguing narrative steeped in mythology, The Forgotten City easily opens itself to multiple readings from various entry points. This complexity is also reflected in the blog posts. David Serrano Lozano opens the series by focusing on elements that make the game stand out from other contemporary antiquity games, and by sharing the insightful results of his interviews with the game’s developers and historical consultants. Next, Hamish Cameron will analyze the historical aspects of The Forgotten City in not one but two interrelated posts: the first focuses on the game’s conceptualization of Roman citizenship, while the second discusses the game’s (mis)representation of slavery. Julie Levy will close the series by discussing the mythological aspects of the game, focusing on how the game’s Ancient Aliens-like reception of the gods reveals the biased ways in which modern society still tends to think about the ancient world.

Series #2: The Hidden Gems of Ludic Antiquity (weekly on Friday)

Historical game scholar Jeremiah McCall has recently remarked that the field has so far focused a lot of attention on high-profile games like the Assassin’s Creed and Sid Meier’s Civilization series, and it is indeed true that current research has overlooked some lesser-known historical games or genres. Accordingly, the intention of our second series was to put the spotlight on antiquity games that otherwise have not received elaborate attention.

First, Alexander Greyswood will discuss his exciting work on Invictus, a fan-made mod for Imperator: Rome (2019, Paradox Interactive), and show how a fan community kept alive a game on which post-launch development had halted in early 2021. Next, Rick Castle turns to the highly popular game Horizon Zero Dawn (2017, Guerilla Games), which isn’t necessarily a hidden gem per se, but has not really received due attention in terms of its reception of the ancient world. Castle shows how Zero Dawn creates a space for either rethinking or confirming conservative conceptualizations of the legacy of the ancient world. Finally, Kate Cook provides a much-needed discussion of mobile games featuring antiquity – a subset of games that, despite its incredible popularity, has not been elaborately discussed in the field so far.

The posts will be released according to the following schedule:

Series #1 TUESDAYSEntering The Forgotten CitySeries #2 FRIDAYSHidden Gems of Ludic Antiquity
Nov 29David Serrano LozanoDec 2Alexander Greyswood
Dec 6Hamish Cameron #1Dec 9Rick Castle
Dec 13Hamish Cameron #2Dec 16Kate Cook
Dec 20Julie Levy  

Coincidentally, the planning of our blog series will overlap with the 2022 edition of the annual Antiquity in Media Studies (AIMS) conference on classical reception. This year’s conference will once again feature many thought-provoking papers and events on antiquity games, as promised by the conference program. The entire conference is online, and registration is free!

Finally, I’m also aware that the database has not received an extensive update in over a year, for which I apologize. I am currently working on another update due before the year is over, which will include new games and updated bibliographical references. Much has changed in the past year, and I hope the new additions will reflect both the field and the industry’s ongoing growth.

Looking forward to sharing this year’s fantastic blog posts with you all!

All the best,

Maciej & Alexander

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