‘Playing the Holocaust I’ – Online Roundtable

Friday 20th November 4-5.30pm (UTC 0, London Time)

Despite the popularity of computer games and an increased interest in representing history, particularly war, in the medium, there are still only a handful of digital games related to the Holocaust. There has been much controversy about whether it is appropriate to write the Holocaust into ludic experiences or to play the Holocaust. Nevertheless, these are not necessarily new discussions relevant only to computer-based projects.

This online discussion will welcome a panel of academics, whose work has explored the intersections between games, play, the Holocaust, and memory, to deliver a position on this topic. We will then open up to a wider discussion. Some of the questions underpinning the session will include:

  • Why is there so much hesitation about computer games and the role they might play in perpetuating Holocaust memory?
  • Is this hesitation medium-specific, or does it repeat historical ‘media panics’?
  • What are the specificities of computer games, and other game formats?
  • How might they add something to the Holocaust memoryscape?
  • Are games and play the same thing? Do games necessitate ‘role-playing’?
  • To what extent can computer games give users agency as memory (co)-producers?
  • How might games and play contribute productively to Holocaust memory?

Following the popularity of our guest blog post by PhD candidate Tabea Widmann on this topic, this session will be Part I of a two part webinar series on ‘Playing the Holocaust’. This first session is dedicated to academic positions, the second will invite those who have been involved in different forms of play or game design related to the Holocaust.

Register for the session below or via the link here:

The link will be available upon registering on Eventbrite, however, we will also email the access link to all participants at 10am on the morning of the event so please do not worry if you cannot find it immediately.

Our speakers:

Wulf Kansteiner is Professor of History at Aarhus University. He is a cultural historian, historical theorist, and memory studies scholar. His research focuses on cultural memories in film, television, and digital culture; the narrative structures of historical writing; and the methods and theories of memory studies. He is co-editor of the Sage-Journal Memory Studies. 

Kate Marrison is a PhD researcher at the University of Leeds exploring the preservation of Holocaust memory in digital culture. Her project titled Digital Witness: The Experiential Turn in Holocaust Memory takes an interdisciplinary approach to consider multiple case studies including video games, virtual reality and interactive testimony. Kate is also a research assistant on the AHRC funded project Virtual Holocaust Memoryscapes.

Pieter Van den Heede is a PhD Candidate at the Department of History of Erasmus University Rotterdam. He studies how digital games allow for engagements with the Second World War. His research is part of the REI project ‘War! Popular Culture and European Heritage of Major Armed Conflicts’.

Tabea Widmann is a doctoral student at the University of Konstanz, Germany. Her dissertation project „»The Game is the Memory«. A Memory Cultural Analysis of Prosthetic Witnesses of the Holocaust in Digital Games“ (working title) focuses on digital games as memory media and concepts of medialized testimony.

The session will be chaired by Victoria Grace Walden, a senior lecturer in the School of Media, Arts and Humanities at the University of Sussex. There, she is a member of the Sussex Wiedenfeld Institute of Jewish Studies. She is also co-chair of the Museums and Memory Working Group of the Memory Studies Association. Her research interests are in the relationship between digital media and genocide remembrance.