Digital Humanities Reflection

Kyle Varnadoe

Digital humanities

Prof. Leslie Madsen-Brooks

Technology Reflection

I was most intrigued by how much technology relies upon games in aspects of storytelling and what goes into creating a virtual environment for gaming, as well as accuracy in historical interpretations.  Technology through History using games; this was described comprehensively by Bryan Alexander in his book The New Digital Storytelling and also by a new digital pen-pal of mine named Adam Chapman, who I’d describe as a younger generation’s version of a developing digital humanist.  I met Chapman on my digital humanist interview assignment and was enlightened by his field of research.  Problem-based storytelling in games, along with historical accuracy, is developing into one of the fastest forms of learning popular history.

There are certain characteristics that storytelling within a game has on the audience that other popular form of historical interpretations, such as film, don’t have.  The filming industry portraying historical events is often criticized for lacking in historical accuracy, portraying inconsistent accuracy in historical interpretation to the viewer.  One can argue that such assimilation to the viewer can be miss-leading, directing a discourse for historical interpretation.  Aside from documentaries, it’s a real bummer because I’m such a historical movie buff, but I often catch myself analyzing a movie as I watch it to find these misinterpretations.  They can be as tedious as German Shepherds in “Gladiator” or as overwhelmingly inaccurate as FDR standing up out of his wheel chair in Pearl Harbor.  These forms of skeptic analysis in historical film formats are conjunctive to the popular design of problem-solving based models in the storytelling of games.  I mean come on, who wants to watch a movie with someone who points out all the mistakes or refutes claims made by the film-makers, who cares?  I could only imagine how an early French film-artist may have felt when witnessing Joseph Goebbels accuracy in historical interpretations on film.  The difficulty behind historical narratives being used as a standard for applying accuracy to a story and relying upon both evidence of the past and the historical writing is the interpretations.  This new game based story-telling is a new opportunity to avoid past mistakes in historical interpretation, promoting more accurate forms of learning history.

Clearly what’s being sought after by historical researchers in connection to the gaming industry is a solution to the discourse of learning accurate history.  This was my favorite aspect of this course, what lays on the horizon for new potential careers and industries focused on History! I’m pursuing a degree in history and teaching, but I’m not sure that I want to teach yet, nor am I certain of what I truly know anymore sometimes.  It’s all so speculative and can sometimes be frustrating, when analyzing the past.  Bitter truths are sometimes hard to take in and those of us like Jack Nicholson saying to Tom Cruise “you can’t handle the truth,” acquire a mode of thinking that goes past the ideals of society to unveil the realities which we face today, my true struggle.  There are little things that frustrate me sometimes, that reveal a truth inside me, perhaps my human nature.  For instance, why the hell am I frustrated about cell phone reception and computer issues in a day and age when my parents would have killed for these conveniences in school? There’s a lesson in being the only student with a flip phone in this class, my stubbornness to adapt to new technology has been intimidating, especially amongst my peers who all have iphones and ipads, I feel Jurassic in my era sometimes.  More importantly it comes down to fear for me I believe.  I’m afraid there may be a motive for misinterpretation.  It’s true that many of these discoursed lessons are simply misinterpreted or embellished purely by accident, however if there’s one thing I know about real history, it comes with a heavy dose of sobering reality to those who find what they fear the most of it.


Alexander, Bryan. The New Digital Storytelling. Praeger, 2011. Print.

Chapman, Adam. “Privileging Form Over Content: Analysing Historical Videogames.”       Journal of Digital Humanities. Volume 1.2 (2012): n. page. Web. 10 Dec. 2012.

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