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Archaeogaming is an archaeological framework which, broadly speaking, includes the study of archeology and video games, and the use of video games for archaeological purposes. [1] To this end, the study can include, but is not limited to: the physical excavation of video-game hardware , the use of archaeological methods within the world, the creation of video-games for or about archaeological practices outcomes or the critical study of the archeology is represented in video-games. Virtual and augmented reality applications in archeology may also be subsumed within its rubric. [2]

M. Dennis states that archeogaming is “… the application of the world to a specific world, specifically through videogames”, which requires a game world, a world bounded by the limitations of its hardware, software and coding choices, as both a closed universe and an extension of the culture that created it. Everything that goes into the immaterial space from its external cultural source, in one way or another. ” [3]This article discusses the fact that there is no functional difference between studying archeology in the physical world, material world, and implementing it with regard to the study, criticism and creation of video-games for and about archeology. As such it is said that archaeogaming “requires the same standards of practice as the physical collection of excavated data, only with a different toolset. It also provides the opportunity to use game worlds to reflect on practice, theory and the perceptions of [archeology]. ” [4]


The first recorded use of the term “archaeogaming” appears on June 9, 2013 on Andrew Reinhard’s blog, in which he discusses the archaeological underpinnings of World of Warcraft and extrapolates that is the potential to explore the gameplay and construction of these worlds using archaeological methodology. [5] The term went out to be retroactively applied to work carried out within the umbrella of video-games and archeology, for example, the ethnographic investigations conducted by E. Johnson in Skyrim . [6]The term has been developed by various academics since the first inception and development is ongoing. Though Reinhard is credited with first applying this term to this study, it has been noted that it has already been tackled under the auspices of the United States.

Types of Archaeogaming

There are many forms or sub-categories within the wider archaeogaming discipline, ranging from the study of the material culture of video-games through to the creation of video-games. The core categories will be discussed in turn below. [7]

Archeology of video games (real-world excavation)

The archeology of video-games in the world of the world of archeology and technology. The Atari video game burial , which entailed the excavation of ET Extra-Terrestrial cartridges from the New Mexico landfill site, is an example of this form of archaeogaming. [8] [9]

Archeology in video-games (digital excavation)

The archaeogaming sub-category of digital excavation refers to the use of archeological methods. An example of this method can be found in J. Aycock’s use of computer-science methods to explore the construction and implementation of features within video-games. [10] Douglas Heaven wrote about the archeology of rubbish / garbage within the worlds for New Scientist . [11] The June 2016 release of No Man ‘s Sky (Hello Games) will also see the launch of the No Man’ s Sky Archaeological Survey, the first formal archeology project undertaken within a procedurally created universe. [12]

Critical Examination of Archeology and Cultural Heritage in video-games

The critical study of how archeology HAS, and shoulds Could be used in video-games is Perhaps the broadest and MOST Widely Represented sub-category of the archaeogaming group in academic and popular literature . Proponents of this sector discusses archeology has been represented in the field of production and the use of frameworks. [13]

Cultural heritage is also explored in an archaeological way via archaeogaming, from Subnautica [14] and Never Alone, [15] to online playthroughs of games such as Far Cry Primal by professors and students of archeology. [16]

Contributors also explored aspects of game design and creation in relation to the discipline of archaeogaming, exposing parallels in the development of titles of the Tentacle Remastered to the archaeologcial process. [17]

Creating archaeological video-games

There are two key branches within this sub-grouping: the practice of creating video-games which represent archaeological material, practices or processes or the creation of video-games to serve archaeological needs. The training of these categories can be seen in the production of games for museums, exhibitions or online sites, usually with the express aim of educating or informing an audience. The latter of the categories focussed on video-games, as a media form, can be used to supplement, expressing or communicating archeology for academic purposes.

Media Reception

Kathleen Caulderwood, “The Archaeologist Who Studies World of Warcraft.” [18] Kotaku, “Actual Archaeologist is Digging through the World of Warcraft, Skyrim”. [19] Guokr, a Chinese science and technology news site reported on archaeogaming shortly thereafter, [20] followed by German Technology Technology Review website. [21]

CBC’s Spark radio program with Nora Young, “We’re Kind of Making It Go Up”: What’s the Video Game Archaeologist? [22] and then on Ireland’s Lyric FM Culture File with Eleanor Flegg, “What is Archaeogaming?” [23]

Current Developments

In April, 2016, a group of academics gathered at Leiden University , Netherlands , as part of the VALUE conference on interactive pasts. [24] The purpose of this conference is to present current research, to engage in critical discussion of archeology and video-games and to develop a manifesto for the development of the necessary theoretical, methodological and practice based frameworks under the broad term of archaeogaming. The core tenets of the first draft of the manifesto (1.0) are as follows:

  • To create a common language for describing the intersection between archeology and video-games
  • To develop the methodological, practice-based and theoretical paradigms required for effective analysis, criticism and development
  • To develop effective methods for communicating with the game development industry concerning the use of archaeological entities
  • To develop ethical frameworks for engaging with archaeological material within video-games
  • To curate and provide data sets, information and modes of communication which are accessible to developers wishing to access archaeological material
  • To develop the platform to the public access to the full archaeological information and video games
  • To preserve games, game culture and game history using appropriate archeology method and theory
  • To approach the study of the public perception of archeology in / of video-games and their surrounding culture (including conventions, cosplays, fanart etc.) with due care and appropriate methodological approaches.
  • To engage with the development history, the developer culture and the impact
  • To develop the field of archaeogaming on an academic, public and industry level through effective knowledge sharing, centralization and open information.


  1. Jump up^ “What is Archaeogaming?” . About.com Education . Retrieved 2016-05-04 .
  2. Jump up^ Bittel, Jason . “The Best Time Travel We’ve Got: Archaeologists Use Virtual Reality to Explore Long-gone Worlds” . Retrieved 2016-02-05 .
  3. Jump up^ Dennis, M. “Archaeogaming (2016)” . Retrieved 2016-02-05 .
  4. Jump up^ Dennis, M. “Archaeogaming (2016)” . Retrieved 2016-02-05 .
  5. Jump up^ Reinhard, A. “What Is Archaeogaming? (2013)” . Retrieved 2016-02-05 .
  6. Jump up^ Johnson, E. “Experienced Archaeologies: A mini-ethnography exploring the way in which people engage with the past in single-player role-playing videogames (2013)” . Retrieved 2016-02-05 .
  7. Jump up^ GROUP, VALUE . “Interactive Pasts Conference (2016)” . Retrieved 2016-02-05 .
  8. Jump up^ Reinhard, A. “Excavating Atari: Where the Media Was the Archeology (2015)” . Retrieved 2016-02-05 .
  9. Jump up^ Weber, William Caraher, Raiford Guins, Andrew Reinhard, Richard Rothaus, and Bret. “Why Digging Atari Games Out of a Landfill Is Archeology” . The Atlantic . Retrieved 2016-05-04 .
  10. Jump up^ Aycock, J. “Retrogame Archeology (2016)” . Retrieved 2016-02-05 .
  11. Jump up^ Heaven, Douglas. “What digital trash dumped in games ? New Scientist . Retrieved 2016-05-04 .
  12. Jump up^ “Culture File: Archeogaming (part 2)” . SoundCloud . Retrieved 2016-05-04 .
  13. Jump up^ Garcia-Raso, Daniel (2011). “Watching video games, Playing with Archeology and Prehistory: Perspectives and Perspectives on the Image of Videogames.” (PDF) (1): 73-92.
  14. Jump up^ “Games We Dig – Subnautica” . www.valueproject.nl . Retrieved 2016-05-10 .
  15. Jump up^ “Internet Archaeol 38. Reinhard Review of Never Alone [game]” . intarch.ac.uk . Retrieved 2016-05-04 .
  16. Jump up^ “Far Cry Primal Stream Twitch – Archeology, The University of York” . www.york.ac.uk . Retrieved 2016-05-04 .
  17. Jump up^ Judge, The Otaku (2016-03-24). “The Archeology of the Remaster: Cultivating the Past” . Archaeogaming . Retrieved 2016-05-10 .
  18. Jump up^ “The Archaeologist Who Studies ‘World of Warcraft ‘ ” . Motherboard . Retrieved 2016-05-04 .
  19. Jump up^ Plunkett, Luke. “Actual Archaeologist Is Digging Through World of Warcraft, Skyrim” . Kotaku . Retrieved 2016-05-04 .
  20. Jump up^ “在 游戏 里 考古 考古 考古 考古学家? 不仅 玩 游戏, 而且 做 学术! | 科学 人 | 果壳 网 科技 有意思” . www.guokr.com . Retrieved 2016-05-04 .
  21. Jump up^ Review, Technology. “Eine Vorbereitung auf von Maschinen erstellte Kulturen” . Technology Review (in German) . Retrieved 2016-05-04 .
  22. Jump up^ ” ‘ We’re kind of making it up as we go along’ – What it’s like to be a video game archaeologist” . www.cbc.ca . Retrieved 2016-05-04 .
  23. Jump up^ “Culture File: Archeogaming (part 1)” . SoundCloud . Retrieved 2016-05-04 .
  24. Jump up^ “Interactive Pasts Conference (2016)” . Retrieved 2016-02-05 .