Briana C. Jackson
EGYPTOLOGIST - EDITOR - VIDEO CREATOR - ARCHAEOGAMER - DIGITAL HUMANITIES - FOUNDER OF PER-HAY STUDIO
Archaeogaming is a discipline that exists under the larger umbrella of the archaeology discipline. As Dr. Andrew Reinhard defines it,
archaeogaming is the archaeology both in and of digital games...digital games are archaeological sites, landscapes, and artifacts, and the game-spaces held within those media can also be understood archaeologically as digital built environments containing their own material culture. (Archaeogaming: An Introduction to Archaeology in and of Video Games, 2018, p. 2)
Any digital game has the potential to be examined archaeologically. In archaeological fields that focus on antiquities in the far distant past, like Egyptology, Near Eastern archaeology, and ancient Greek and Roman archaeology, archaeogaming interests have primarily been trained on games set in the ancient past, namely, Assassin's Creed: Origins and Odyssey. But games and archaeology does not have to focus only on the ancient past. Games set in the more recent past, present, and even future all are relevant in the archaeogaming discipline.
Analysis of ancient-based games has centered around two main approaches: historicity and educational value. Examinations of historicity means the scholar is critiquing how historically accurate the game is and critically analyzing its historical representational merits or its dangerous perpetuation of stereotypes and outdated tropes. Examinations of educational value means the scholar is considering the ways in which a game or its various components may be used as educational material to supplement lessons about the ancient past.
Archaeogaming also includes playing through games and commenting upon them from a professional perspective, adding a bit of education to the experience. Some scholars target their playthroughs to people who are primarily interested in the ancient past, consuming the playthrough as a scholarly lecture. My target audience is (fellow) gamers who enjoy watching Let's Plays in general and hope to observe and be entertained by a new perspective of playthroughs. My playthroughs can by found in playlists organized by game on YouTube, or you may find them below in order of upload.
Academically, I am particularly interested in city and society builder games and the ways in which they demonstrate the development of "the state" and urbanization. From a scholarly viewpoint, such games cleverly convey this through leveling up through historical periods and acquiring new technologies and cultural advancements. I am also interested in how archaeology, such as real archaeological methods such as GIS and spatial analysis, is incorporated into the Myst game series as a means of lore- and world-building.
Lastly, I am a strong advocate for bringing game developers into the discourse of archaeogaming to discuss their views on the discipline and how their games are being consumed academically and critically.
See also my recent lectures on archaeogaming: Archaeology as a Foundation for Lore Building in the Myst Video Game Series and Building Cities, Building Games: Developers' Inspirations and Intentions and Urbanization and State Development in City-Builder Games.