Presentation Details

The Second International Conference on the Future of the Book

Serious Play: Using Intermediation to Articulate Atrocity

Colin Harvey, Dr Anna Reading.

The successful remediation of popular children's books into digital games has characterized the video game form since the 1980s. From The Hobbit on the Commodore 64 to recent 'Next Generation' console versions of Winnie the Pooh and the Harry Potter novels, the video game is increasingly providing children with another version of original book stories.

However, while the relationship of video games to fictional books may be seen as less problematic, the idea of a beneficial educational relationship between video games and books in relation to serious historical subjects such as the Nazi Holocaust is seen as undesirable. Research shows that people learn about the Holocaust from a variety of media, with girls preferring material articulated through the book form and boys preferring visual media, such as the internet. However, there is still a deep reluctance, particularly within the field of Holocaust studies, to recognise the benefits of combining and using different mediations to communicate the genocide. This paper suggests that interactive media and video games can, however, have a positive relationship with books, articulating aspects that books are unable to and taking people not away from books, but back to them. The paper uses the recent precedents of's September 12 and Madrid games and the development of interactive DVDs to accompany books on genocide as examples. We suggest that it is not interactive digital media that we should be afraid of in relation to the book and serious subjects, but ourselves.


Colin Harvey  (United Kingdom)
Senior Lecturer in Media/Digital Media
Department of Arts, Media and English Faculty of Arts and Human Sciences
London South Bank University

Colin Harvey is a Senior Lecturer in Media/Digital Media at London South Bank University. He has worked on video game story concepts for Sony, writes regular pieces of journalism on video games and is the author of Grand Theft Auto: Motion-Emotion (Milan: Ludologica, forthcoming). He is currently engaged in PhD study entitled "Towards A Cartography of the Video Game" at the University of East London.

Dr Anna Reading  (United Kingdom)

London South Bank University

  • Video Games
  • Atrocity
  • Books
  • Serious Games
  • War On Terror

(30 min. Conference Paper, English)