About this project
Introduction to my research
Hi all. I am seeking funding so I can successfully publish my 2011 PhD thesis gained in the History department of the University of Manchester, 'Playing At War: Games Technology and British Military Imaginings 1870-2010', into my first monograph. Put simply my thesis maps the history of the under studied and rich cultural history of war gaming from the toy soldier to the high definition spectacle of contemporary video games.
Scope of my research
The thesis and the subsequent book examines the creation, production, and consumption of war games between 1870 and 2010. Games have played an influential yet unexplored role in fashioning public imaginings of war throughout this period. The book will be divided into two halves, the first undertakes a historical analysis of war-gaming between 1870 and 1991. Play fulfilled a range of functions, providing propaganda in times of war, projecting heroic visions of combat, facilitating a conduit between public and military spheres, and providing a forum for discussion of the relative health of the British military.
The second half of this thesis positions computer games as a key medium in the formation of contemporary imaginings of war. From their emergence in the late 1970s, digital games came to form a significant part of British leisure time. The aesthetic development of the medium is charted. Current games produce fantasies of combat, whilst also being used by the military in recruitment campaigns, training, and even in trauma therapy. Video games are also discussed as a mode of popular history that has a strong influence on shaping the memory of the Second World War and Vietnam War, as well as the recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Increasingly, internet-based re-enactment groups use the medium to frame particular visions of the wartime past.
Games and toys were sourced from the British Library, Imperial War Museum, National Army Museum, Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, John Rylands Library, Victoria and Albert Museum, and through internet auction and specialist gaming sites.
My original research was funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).
Please get in touch
Please get in contact and we can discuss any elements of the project in detail. I am a keen war gamer myself and a number of players and game producers were interviewed in the course of my research.
Risks and challenges
The vast majority of the material is there as it is part of a successful and fully defended thesis. Little new reading is needed. I have begun the process of moving from the four chapter model of the thesis to what will be a eight chapter model for book which will aid readability.
Backers will be kept informed in great detail of how the process of negotiating with academic publishers is going. I am due to have a face-to-face meeting with a major academic publisher in November 2012, if this does not prove successful other publishers will be sought. In the unlikely process of no academic publisher being found I will self publish the book in late 2014 as a E-book and distribute free copies to all backers.
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