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Fall 2014 Student Projects in #hist3812a at Carleton University

Minecrafted History

I intend to do a formal writeup about this project & its results, in tandem with the students, for submission somewhere. In the meantime, please find below the original prompt for this project. -SG

Why does this class look the way it does?

The philosophy of the core learning in this course can be summed up as, ‘Hacking as a Way of Knowing’. That is, we play with digital things and try to understand through that process. Every exercise in this course builds on every other. The course objectives therefore are to:

  • Introduce and explore key concepts in digital history, through the lens of games & simulations
  • Develop facility with interrogating the representation of history in digital media
  • Understand and express history in a way that takes advantage of the key affordances of digital media.

The big question: What does Good-History-Through-Gaming look like?

A Route to an answer: MineCrafted History

Our major project, 'MineCrafted History', seeks to answer that question.

You will design and build an immersive experience in Minecraft that expresses ‘good history through gaming’. There will be checkpoints to meet over the course of the term (exact dates tba). Worlds will be built by teams, in groups of 5-6. Worlds can be picked from three broad themes:


You will need to obtain source maps; you will digitize these and translate them into Minecraft. We will in all likelihood be using Github to manage your projects ( The historical challenge will be to frame the game play within the world that you have created such that it expresses good history. You will need to keep track of every decision you make and why, and think through what the historical implications are of those decisions.

The final build will be accompanied by a paradata document that will discuss your build, that will detail all sources used (Harvard Style), that will reference all appropriate literature, and that will explain how playing your world creates ‘good history’ for the player. This document should reference Fogu, Kee et al, and the papers in Elliot and Kappell at a miminum. More information about ‘paradata’ and examples may be found at Due the first session on the last week of term, so that we can all play each others’ worlds. The in-class discussion that will follow in the second session is also a part of this project’s grade. Your work-in-progress may also be presented at Carleton’s GIS Day (3rd Wednesday in November)

(Ideally, I would like to make these worlds publicly available at the end of the term, for the world to play).

I will provide you with the URL to download our licensed copies of in class. Each group (see 'collaborators') will have its own world to build, and to explore in.

To sum up:

You will need to start exploring minecraft early. How do the default worlds imagine history? What are the constraints going to look like? What are the possibilities? What have others done?


  1. A one pager with initial thoughts on what history is like in Minecraft (Mid September)

  2. A one pager with initial thoughts on what your group will do (Mid October)

  3. A rough-draft of your paradata document (Mid November)

exact dates will be set in class


  1. Minecraft world, zipped.

  2. Paradata document

  3. In class presentation of what your group has accomplished.

Code of Conduct

It took the intervention of several rather important people at this University to allow us to use/play Minecraft for this course. We are 'in view' in a way other classes are not. Therefore, decorum, civility, and decency need to be observed at all times in this class. Our in-world spaces are still part of this classroom and I expect the same standard of behaviour.

Students should note this university policy, especially item VII

A thank you to Robert Smith, Andrew Yuill, Jaime Garcia Zamorano, Alan Steele, and Steve Skerlak for making this all possible


and for more about how this project unfolded, please see this presentation and this one