Greco-Roman Antiquity in Games (Panel)


Special Session
Film and Media Studies / Ancient and Classics

Benjamin Stevens (Trinity University)
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Brett Rogers (University of Puget Sound)
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This panel seeks to stimulate and further conversation about how Greco-Roman traditions have been put to use in games—video games, board games, and role-playing games (RPGs). While some scholarship on this topic has emerged in the past decade, major questions remain open: how do games use Mediterranean antiquity? how do they enable players to imagine themselves into ancient spaces, playing at being ‘Greek’ or ‘Roman’? and how might such imaginative spaces challenge the way we theorize classical receptions? We invite papers examining the reception of ancient Greek and Roman materials (literature, history, philosophy, art history, etc.) in games of any format, including video games, board games, and RPGs.

Games—video games, board games, and role-playing games—represent a rich and largely untapped vein in receptions of ancient Greco-Roman materials. Ancient characters, places, and themes have long populated games, including, e.g., mythic monsters in Dungeons & Dragons, Kid Icarus, and Villainous ancient cities in 7 Wonders, Polis, and Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey, and historical echoes in Civilization and Warhammer 40K. Scholarship in the area has only recently begun (e.g., Ghita & Andrikopoulous 2009; Lowe 2009; Christesen & Machado 2010; Peterson, Miller, & Fedorko 2013; Gordon 2017; Marshall 2019; McAuley 2019), and major questions remain open: how do games use Mediterranean antiquity? how do they enable players to imagine themselves into ancient spaces, playing at being ‘Greek’ or ‘Roman’? and how might such imaginative spaces challenge the way we theorize classical receptions? This panel thus seeks to stimulate and further conversation about how Greco-Roman traditions have been put to use in gaming. We invite papers examining the reception of ancient Greek and Roman materials (literature, history, philosophy, art history, etc.) in games of any format, including video games, board games, and RPGs.


Works Cited

Christesen, P. and D. Machado. 2010. “Video Games and Classical Antiquity.” Classical World 104.1: 107–110.

Ghita, C., & Andrikopoulos, G. 2009. “Total War and Total Realism: A Battle for Antiquity in Computer Game History.” Classics For All: Reworking Antiquity in Mass Culture. Ed. D. Lowe & K. Shahabudin. 109–126.

Gordon, J. 2017. “When Superman Smote Zeus: analysing violent deicide in popular culture.” Classical Receptions Journal 9.2: 211–236.

Lowe, D. 2009. “Playing with antiquity: Videogame receptions of the classical world.” Classics For All: Reworking Antiquity in Mass Culture. Ed. D. Lowe & K. Shahabudin. 62–88.

Marshall, C. W. 2019. “Classical Reception and the Half-Elf Cleric.” Once and Future Antiquities in Science Fiction and Fantasy. Ed. B. M. Rogers and B. E. Stevens. London: Bloomsbury Academic. 149–171.

McAuley, A. 2019. “The Divine Emperor in Virgil’s Aeneid and the Warhammer 40K Universe.” Once and Future Antiquities in Science Fiction and Fantasy. Ed. B. M. Rogers and B. E. Stevens. London: Bloomsbury Academic. 183–195.

Peterson, Rolfe Daus, Andrew Justin Miller, and Sean Justin Fedorko. 2013. “The Same River Twice: Exploring Historical Representation and the Value of Simulation in the Total War, Civilization, and Patrician Franchises.” Playing with the Past: Digital Games and the Simulation of History. Ed. Matthew Wilhelm Kapell and Andrew B. R. Elliott. Bloomsbury Publishing.