Submissions are invited for an edited volume on Women in Historical and Archaeological Video Games
Women make up half of all gamers and female participation in gaming increases with age. Yet the role of women in historical or archaeological video games has been significantly understudied. The proposed volume will address this gap in the field and provide a more comprehensive and more nuanced treatment of women in historical and archaeological video games than has so far been available.
Abstracts for proposed submissions are invited on topics such as:
- How are women portrayed in historical and/or archaeological video games?
- Why are they portrayed in these ways?
- Are these portrayals authentic and/or accurate? Does this authenticity/accuracy matter?
- What do female characters allow a video game to do that male ones don’t?
- What types of stories do historical or archaeological video games tell using their female characters?
Abstracts and any questions should be sent to Dr Jane Draycott by Friday 29th May 2020. For more detail on the volume’s aims and principles, and for a full timeline for submissions see below.
Call for Papers:
Women in Historical and Archaeological Video Games Edited Volume
Edited by Jane Draycott and Kate Cook
In 2018, Creative Assembly’s Total War: Rome II was updated to include playable female characters, and this update triggered a huge backlash and wave of review-bombing. Some players objected to the update on the grounds of historical inaccuracy, an objection that Creative Assembly. When challenged about what a certain section of the gaming community perceived to be ‘historical inaccuracy’, the company argued that the game was intended to be historically authentic, not historically accurate, and that, in any case, female generals would only spawn under certain very specific circumstances. Yet, as a number of ancient historians pointed out on social media, and a number of games journalists picked up and included in their coverage of the fracas, this in itself was historically inaccurate because there are numerous examples from ancient Graeco-Roman history of female involvement in martial activity, ranging all the way from the individual combatant to the general and/or admiral, examples which are not confined to mythology (e.g. the Amazons, the goddess Athena/Minerva etc.).
Women make up half of all gamers and female participation in gaming increases with age. With the notable exception of Christian Rollinger’s recently published Classical Antiquity in Video Games: Playing with the Ancient World (2020), to date video games have been understudied in Classics, Ancient History, and Archaeology, and the role of women in these video games even more so. Consequently, the subject of women in historical and archaeological video games is an untapped resource, and the aim of this edited volume is to contribute both to Reception Studies, and to Video Game Studies, and provide a more comprehensive and more nuanced treatment of women in historical and archaeological video games than has so far been available. The volume will examine the following issues: How are women portrayed in historical and/or archaeological video games? Why are they portrayed in these ways? Are these portrayals authentic and/or accurate? Does this authenticity/accuracy matter? What do female characters allow a video game to do that male ones don’t? What types of stories do these video games tell using their female characters? The volume’s scope includes video games set in historical periods (e.g. the Assassin’s Creed franchise), video games that are not set in the past but incorporate aspects of historical or archaeological activity (e.g. the Tomb Raider franchise), and video games with fantasy or science fiction settings that include some aspect of classical reception. Additionally, the volume will contain case studies focussed on individual female characters of all kinds, both playable and non-playable. Bloomsbury has already expressed an interest in publishing the volume as part of the Imagines: Classical Receptions in the Visual and Performing Arts series.
People interested in contributing to the volume are asked to submit a 500-word abstract and selective bibliography. If your abstract is accepted, you will be invited to submit a first draft which will be subjected to collective peer review by other contributors, with chapters disseminated between contributors for both individual and group discussion, and you will then revise it based on their recommendations. We are exploring the possibility of organising a workshop to discuss submissions that takes place entirely online. All initial communication will take place online over email and/or via Skype, Zoom or an equivalent platform.
While the scope of the edited volume will be focussed primarily upon Graeco-Roman antiquity, there are no firm chronological or geographical parameters in place, and diverse approaches to the material (e.g. interdisciplinary approaches; multidisciplinary approaches; the incorporation of gender studies, queer studies, disability studies etc.) are welcome and encouraged. Early career researchers (including PhD students) are particularly encouraged to apply.
Given the current circumstances, requests for alternative deadlines or schedules during the writing period will be considered very sympathetically.
Deadline for submission of abstracts: Friday 29th May 2020.
Applicants informed of outcome: Friday 19th June 2020.
Deadline for submission of first draft chapters: Friday 28th August 2020.
Peer reviewed chapters returned to contributors with feedback and recommendations for revisions: Autumn/Winter 2020.
Deadline for submission of revised chapters: Spring/Summer 2021.
The volume will then be submitted to Bloomsbury.
For more information, or to submit an abstract, please email Dr Jane Draycott at the University of Glasgow at Jane.Draycott@Glasgow.ac.uk
 By ‘women’ we include all those who self-define as women, including those with complex gender identities which include ‘woman’, and those who experience oppression as women.