Unsettling Play: Perceptions of Agonistic Games
In this paper, we propose Agonistic Games (AGs) as a serious games subcategory that can stimulate critical reflection on topics of dark heritage through multiperspectivity and unsettling play. We first discuss the emerging topic of agonism in memory studies, and then how games can be used to support its objectives. We then discuss the development of 2 original AGs: Endless Blitz and Umschlagplatz ’43.
We explore whether these two AGs were perceived as capable of stimulating critical reflection by collecting data from visitors to the exhibition ‘Krieg. Macht. Sinn’ at the Ruhr Museum in Germany where the games were installed, and from participants in an online course describing the games. From analysing data collected, we outline four factors inhibiting the capacity of AGs to stimulate critical reflection (topic, context, design, and assumptions about games) and propose strategies for overcoming those inhibitors. Our findings are valuable to scholars, game researchers, and designers, laying the foundations for the design and development of future AGs.