Video games offer a unique way to engage with history since they allow the player to consume history by reading texts and watching (historical) cutscenes. They provide a mode of interactivity that allows the player to play around with the history set by the developer-historian, which leads to the exploration of history in the game. What remains relatively unexplored concerning the study of historical games is how players give meaning to their gameplay activities and how they appropriate game content. An expression of gaming that has remained underexplored by academics is the After-Action Report (AAR). The AAR is a form in which the consumption and production of history by the player comes together. An AAR based on a game can be understood as: “a prevalent form of fan literature in which the player constructs personal narratives about the game by recounting their gameplay”. This thesis aims to study After-Action Reports as a paratextual expression of contemporary historical culture. It aims to answer the following research question: How is the past represented in After-Action Reports for the game Europa Universalis IV? To answer the question, this thesis first looks at how history is presented within the game Europa Universalis IV through a reflection about historical research performed by the developer and through analysis of individual game components. Second, this thesis looks at the dominant narratives expressed in AARs by analysing narrative elements like time, space, cause-effect, characters and narrator as formulated by Narrative as a Formal System by Bordwell and Thompson. This thesis aims to establish patterns within the dominant plotlines that can be found within these AARs. Lastly, this thesis will look at the interactive aspects of AARs and how the dynamic interactions between participants influence the way AARs write stories about the past.

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Dr. Pieter van den Heede
Global History and International Relations
Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication

Vera Lakmaker. (2021, July 12). AFTR-ACTION REPORTS IN EUROPA UNIVERSALIS IV. How do AARs represent the past?. Global History and International Relations. Retrieved from