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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter Oldenbourg July 12, 2021

Reprogramming the History of Video Games: A Historian’s Approach to Video Games and Their History

Jeffrey Lawler and Sean Smith


This paper explores the need and opportunities for historians to recognize the importance of video games to their research in modern American history. While this paper is rooted in examples specific to United States history, the call for historians to examine video games, engage with the rich field of games studies, and explore video games as sources in historical scholarship is a universal one, applicable to all fields of history. In this paper we argue that digital games are an essential part of media and cultural history and while media scholars and others interested in game studies have taken up the mantel of video games history, historians have been slow to respond to the medium and even slower to engage with video games as historical sources.

Corresponding author: Sean Smith, California State University, Long Beach, USA, E-mail:

Published Online: 2021-07-12

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