Faculty Forum Examines Video Games and the Ancient World


Amy Norgard, associate professor of classics, will present “Playing with the Ancient World: Rewriting the Classics through Video Games” at 6 p.m. April 7 via Zoom. All are welcome to attend.

Presentation abstract:

The literature, myths, art, and history of ancient Greece and Rome have long fascinated later generations, becoming the subject of retellings and reinterpretations. For our generation, video games are a major area of reception of Classical antiquity, but are relatively unexplored by scholarship. From the early days of the medium, a subset of video games has re-envisioned Greco-Roman antiquity as a playable space, evident by iconic games such as the single-player shooter game “Gladiator” (1977) and the action-adventure platformer “Kid Icarus” (1986). Since the 2000s, there has been a surge in the market of video games (both mainstream and independent) set in and around the ancient Mediterranean: examples include “Rome: Total War” (2004), the “God of War” series (2005-present), and more recently “Assassin’s Creed Odyssey” (2018), “Hades” (2020) and “The Forgotten City” (2021) – to name a few. The players have spoken: the ancient world sells! But as these new iterations of antiquity appear on screen in an interactive format that empowers the player, how are notions of authenticity of ancient Greece and Rome being redefined? How do ancient world video games give us an opportunity to redefine antiquity for our own time, in particular by highlighting “lost” narratives, or diverse voices and perspectives? Join me as we discuss the critical connections between narratology, ludology and authenticity in video games that reinforce the relevance of the ancient world – or some version thereof – for the player.

The Faculty Forum was created in 2003 to give faculty the opportunity to present their research and creative work to the Truman community, and to enhance the importance of scholarship and creativity in the culture of the institution. In the spirit of the liberal arts and sciences, the forum is a showcase of Truman faculty’s many creative and intellectual pursuits. The forum offers a variety of formats – public lectures, classroom-style symposia, performances and gallery exhibitions – to best suit different fields of study, as well as different individuals.
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