BackStory releases episode on video game history

BackStoryBackStory, an American history podcast produced by Virginia Humanities, releases “Playing the Past: Video Games and American History.”

The Department of Defense developed the very first video game and “The Oregon Trail” taught a generation to live as a pioneer. “Red Dead Redemption 2” might be a major commercial success, but how historically accurate is it of the Old West? On this episode of BackStory, Brian Balogh, Nathan Connolly and Ed Ayers explore the relationship between history and video games in America.

Joining Balogh, Connolly and Ayers are Philip BouchardPatrick Jagoda and Esther Wright.

  • Bouchard spent 18 years creating educational software, followed by 14 years designing web-based applications. He is the author of “You Have Died of Dysentery: The creation of The Oregon Trail.”
  • Jagoda is an Associate Professor of English and Cinema and Media Studies at the University of Chicago, specializing in media studies, twentieth and twenty-first century American literature, and digital game theory and design. He is the author of “Network Aesthetics” and co-author with Michael Maizels of “The Game Worlds of Jason Rohrer.”
  • Wright is a PhD candidate at the University of Warwick. Her current research focus is the representation of twentieth-century American history in Rockstar Games, particularly the “Red Dead” series (2004-) and “L.A. Noire” (2011).

“Playing the Past: Video Games and American History,” is available now. Find it and every episode of BackStory on the website ( or on popular podcatchers including iTunes, Spotify and Google. BackStory publishes every week at noon and is available for free.


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