Showing posts from November, 2021

Landscapes of Empire: Coloniality, Agency, and Opacity in Game Design

In recent decades, an increasing awareness of the prevalence of colonialist and Orientalist themes in modern board games have led to calls for “de-colonizing” the hobby. Critiques of the imperialism and Eurocentrism implicit in Sid Meier’s computer game series  Civilization  have now been joined by critical analyses of colonialist themes in board games like Goa ,  Vasco de Gama , and Maracaibo . The response from board game designers and publishers has been mixed. On the one hand, it can be observed that the pushback against the depiction of colonialism in games has led to a kind of “pre-colonial regress,” leading to an explosion of games like Daniele Tascini’s Tzol’kin: The Mayan Calendar (2012) or David Turczi’s game of temple-building in ancient Egypt, Tekhenu: Obelisk of the Sun (2020). Of course, the mere avoidance of colonialism as a historical theme or setting does not ensure that a game is free of complicity in the extractive practices of colonialism, in particular practice