Document Type

Forum Theme 1


In his book, What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy, James Paul Gee argues that “the power of video games, for good or ill, resides in the ways in which they meld learning and identity…,” and he cautions that this power can be used to miscommunicate wrong ideology (such as might be found in a neo-Nazi game that encourages the player to conduct ethnic cleansing (199). However, Gee advocates “understanding the ‘play’ of identities and perspectives as they work for and against each other in the world, now and throughout history” (200). The art – or accident, as the case is more often to be – of successful miscommunication of the medieval in videogames has its origins in earlier media, yet the art and technology of special effects and other video technology have been able to catch up to, perhaps even out-do, the printed word in generating the most ultimate of fantasy dream-states. Such is one video game situation: a kind of neomedievalism,2 an almost socio-psychotic “disease” of the post-modern, pseudo-adolescent, pseudo-intellectual, who sits in an armchair and practices a purposeful perversion of medieval codes, ethics and life. The neomedieval video game is projected through a highly filtered lens that has been polished by contemporary fashions of commerce, morals, ethics, beliefs, politics, weaponry, clothing, hair styles, modes of behavior, and other cultural codes. Yet, I don’t wish to get medieval on contemporary medievalist video games, partly because they offer implications for such wonderfully creative opportunities. Instead, after I make a few observations, I would like to propose Terra Incognito – a neomedieval video game that is based upon a role-playing board game created by a few frazzled professors engaged in play with their teenagers on the occasional Friday night. This game exploits the possible benefits of schizoidal, miscommunicated history and mythology for a more positive, perhaps even nurturing, effect. But first, there are those few observations to be made.

Publication Date

Spring 2006

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©2006 Carol Robinson



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