Playful History : Games, Liberation Pedagogy, and Historical Thinking




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This dissertation examines how analog and digital history games complicate and challenge the dominant discourse of teaching American History through Texas state high school-focused texts and these texts complicity in suppressing non-normative histories. These histories are formed at the intersection of political, social, and cultural power formations, impacting educational, edutainment, and commercial game software development and deployment. State-approved history textbooks are intended to reinforce existing hegemonic power structures and the existing mythic histories that foster and strengthen white supremacist and hero-building goals that resist students' and teachers' critical engagement. Whether digital or analog, games use these same texts as entry points to the historical record and are deployed in the classroom as textbooks themselves, used to augment existing curricula and learning goals. Both history games and history textbooks attempt to leverage narrative to create recognizable and dramatic experiences. These elements, taken together, encourage students to engage implicitly in thinking historically. Games encourage students to engage critically and engage in thinking historically with the material through the concept of subversive play, fostering the conditions of a liberation pedagogy.



Educational games, Board games, Computer games, Historiography, Critical pedagogy, Education -- History