When a student mentioned a video game in class, University of Kansas history professor Andrew Denning decided to do his own homework and play Call of Duty.
During a break, he took it upon himself to sit down with a controller in hand and see what exactly was missing. Denning has performed through recent hit titles like Wolfenstein: The New Order, Red Dead Redemption II, and Call of Duty: WWII.
“I found a lot of my students would come and talk about video games and how they learned about it. [history] through video games, ”Denning said.
After hearing these comments from his students, Denning saw an opportunity to capture more young minds with his teaching and incorporate it into his research.
Denning will discuss the relationship between the students and how video games represent history at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Hall Center for the Humanities.
Denning’s article, “Game in depth? Video games and historical imagination”, Published in the American Historical Review, was his first step in communicating his research.
He describes in his article how video games like Wolfenstein and its sequel frame the perception of history by younger generations.
“The industry made $ 180 billion last year, more than the global film industry and North American sports combined,” Denning said.
Unlike movies or books, Denning argues that video games have a deeper immersion for the player to experience aspects of history, especially Nazi Germany.
Professors who teach this story should not disqualify play’s misrepresentation of story, Denning said. Instead, they should examine what the games present and use it to understand how they influence students’ understanding of history.
“They often understand Nazi Germany [more] through video games and movies than they are by academics, ”Denning said.
Denning has already used other forms of pop culture in his lessons and plans to incorporate historical games into his future lessons.
Older generations grew up playing games like Oregon Trail in schools in the ’80s and’ 90s, and these newer games are a way for teachers and students to spark conversations in the classroom, Denning said.
“I’m reluctant to tell my students to buy a $ 60 game,” Denning said. “Even playing a game for a class can still feel like an assignment. “
But for interested students, this is another way to engage in lectures. He also said that there are other ways for students to consume these games. Access to Let’s Play videos and online forums is an option for those who don’t have the money for expensive entertainment.
Eliott Reeder, the communications coordinator for the Hall Center for the Humanities, said Denning’s lecture was another way for the center to engage with undergraduates.
Students and faculty can register to attend Denning’s lecture stream at The Hall Center Crowdcast page here.