Research Seminar on Playing Memory

  • June 28, 2018; 13.15-15.00; Muntstraat 2a, Room 1.11

Poetics of Detention: Framing the Refugee ‘Crisis’. Seminar with Debarati Sanyal

  • May 22, 2018; 17.00 - 19.00, Janskerkhof 13, Room 006; Utrecht University

Performances of Memory in Post-Khmer Rouge Cambodia: Images, Archives, and Bodies in Transition. A Seminar with Stéphanie Benzaquen-Gautier

  • April 9, 2018; 15.15 - 17.00, Ravenstijnzaal (KNG 80), Utrecht University

Research Seminar on Playing Memory

Research Seminar on Playing Memory
  • June 28, 2018; 13.15-15.00; Muntstraat 2a, Room 1.11
In the first collaboration between the Utrecht Forum for Memory Studies and the Centre for the Study of Digital Games and Play, we explore the relationship between memory and games through three lenses. The aim of this joint research seminar is to start a productive dialogue between memory studies and game studies. Central themes in this joint seminar are the relationship between play and games in memory-making, memory-work, and memory as heritage. First, Emil Lundedal Hammar (UiT Tromsø) presents his work on mnemonic hegemony in the political economy of historical games. Second, Stephanie de Smale (Utrecht University), discusses the intersection between gaming, war memory, and conflict reconciliation in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Lastly, dr. René Glas and Jasper van Vught (Utrecht University) present some of their work with the Dutch Sound & Vision foundation on how to preserve the memory of gameplay for Dutch cultural heritage.
Space is limited but open for everyone. Please contact Stephanie de Smale ( if you want to attend the seminar. 


Emil Lundedal Hammar, UiT Tromsø
Mnemonic hegemony in AAA games
Whether it is popular literature, public museums, TV shows, or even Hollywood cinema, we rely on culture to remember the past. As a memory-making cultural form, historical digital games likewise allow people to form understandings of the past. Yet despite the imaginary possibilities of this digital technology, we see the same white Eurocentric visions of the past reproduced repeatedly by the North American and European games industry. The problem with mass media such as digital games is therefore that ‘old games keep being made’, i.e. that mnemonic hegemony constantly reasserts itself via historical digital games. To answer this question, this presentation determines to what extent political economy affects the memory-making potentials of historical digital games and how capitalism, race, and postcolonialism intersect to establish and assert a mnemonic hegemony. 
Based on the results of a qualitative study with historical game developers, the presentation tests the hypothesis about whether or not, cultural hegemony and material conditions of games production implicitly maintain and reproduce hegemonic visions of the past. While individuals do not necessarily consciously intend to reproduce received systems of power and hegemony, the collected data draws out how certain cultural and material relations tacitly motivate workers in the digital game industries to reproduce mnemonic hegemony across racial, gendered, national lines. Finally, the presentation develops the argument that the political economy of cultural production networks such as the games industry constitute important factors that need to be taken seriously in research on cultural memory and game studies in order to determine cultural memory-making potentials. 
Stephanie de Smale, - Utrecht University
"I don't care who you are, as long as you play games" - mapping the memory/gaming nexus in post-conflict societies
How do memories of violent conflict reverberate in gaming practices of Bosnian youth? Shared in this presentation are results of an explorative mapping of gamers and local gaming communities in Bosnia-Herzegovina. In this qualitative study, 12 young gamers from Sarajevo and Banja Luka were asked to play the post-Yugoslav war inspired game This War of Mine (11 bit studios 2014). Afterwards, players were interviewed about their gameplay experience and war memory. The aim of this explorative study was twofold: first, to map how players remember war through playing and second, to trace interconnections between players and their sense of belonging in gaming. The argument is made that gameplay and reflecting on gameplay afterwards with others is an important aspect that stimulates dialogue between gamers in post-conflict societies. The way this dialogue takes place, is dependent on the type of game that is being played and its communicative affordances.
Dr. René Glas,, Dr. Jasper van Vught, - Utrecht University
Preserving the memory of play for cultural heritage 
We will present some of the results of a research project dealing with digital game preservation as part of national cultural heritage, a collaboration with the Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision. This project had as its goal to set up “the first unified effort between game research, cultural heritage institutions and the Dutch game industry to define, preserve, archive and exhibit the history of Dutch digital games and game development”. Supported both by an Utrecht University Focus Area Game Research grant and a museum grant from NWO, the results of the  project are a significant first step into creating an archive of Dutch digital games as part of our cultural heritage, as well as thinking about exhibiting such history in a museum setting. In our presentation, we will specifically address a project we were directly involved in, which was the creation and use of Let’s Play videos as an innovative and critical way to engage with vintage games in a cultural heritage context.

Dr. René Glas is assistant professor at Utrecht University, specializing in the field of game studies. Both within and outside of academia he is involved in projects dealing with video game culture and its history, play as a method to investigate this culture and history, and game literacy. 
Emil Lundedal Hammar is a PhD candidate in Game and Memory Studies at the Department of Culture & Language at UiT Tromsø, Norway under the supervision of Dr. Holger Pötszch. He holds a Cand. IT. in games analysis from the IT University of Copenhagen and a Ba. in philosophy from the University of Copenhagen. In 2016 he won first prize with the personal essay on the relation between being a citizen of a former slave nation of Denmark and playing contemporary digital games dealing with the 18th century Caribean slave system in the national essay contest ‘Digital Lives’ organized by the organization Fritt Ord. He currently coordinates the international ENCODE research network at UiT Tromsø and is part of the WARGAME research group. Together with Dr. Souvik Mukherjee, Emil also co-edits a special issue on postcolonial perspectives in Game Studies for the Open Library of Humanities. His research interests include game studies, memory studies, critical race theory, the political economy of communication, critical & materialist approaches to media, and postcolonialism.
Stephanie de Smale is a humanities/computer science PhD candidate at Utrecht University, affiliated with the Centre for Conflict Studies and the Centre for the Study of Games and Play. She has a BA in communication and two cum laude MA’s in new media studies. Her NWO funded PhD research focuses on the way in which wartime suffering is imagined and remembered in digital culture communities and its potential for post-conflict reconciliation processes. 
Dr. Jasper van Vught is assistant professor at Utrecht University, also specializing in game studies. He is part of the Centre for Digital Games and Play in which he focuses on game theory and methodology, video game ethics, and the history and preservation of games as art forms.