Read on Hyperlocal Games in a New Book on Game History and the Local

Edited by the Melanie Swalwell, the Game History and the Local edited volume has just been published by Palgrave Macmillan. The book explores the various ways in which local communities and contexts have shaped the video game medium and discusses the methods that can be used to study the topic.

Apart from Swalwell’s introduction, the first chapter in the book is our member’s Jaroslav Švelch’s contribution on hyperlocal games. The abstract follows:

Švelch introduces the term “hyperlocal games” to describe computer and video games created by people from a particular place about that place and about the people who inhabit it, written primarily (but not exclusively) for the local community. Drawing from three case studies from 1980s and 1990s Czechoslovakia, Švelch reads hyperlocal games as instances of de Certeau’s concept of spatial tactics and the Situationist practice of dérive. In these games, young amateurs recreated the sites of their everyday lives, such as schools, towns or hobby clubs, and subjected the resulting game spaces to their own rules, fulfilling their ambitions and challenging adult authorities. Švelch argues that studying hyperlocal games can sensitize game scholars and historians to the everyday contexts of game production.

Hyperlocal games comprised a large part of the 1980s and 1990s Czechoslovak amateur production, but hyperlocal elements are still present in contemporary video games, as evidenced, for example, by the horror game Someday You’ll Return from 2020, which takes place in the Czech countryside.

The book features chapter by notable digital game historians, including Graeme Kirkpatrick, Laine Nooney, Maria B. Garda and Paweł Grabarczyk, or Jaakko Suominen and Anna Sivula. For our project at PGPS, Ulf Sandqvist’s chapter on the social structure of Swedish game development is particularly useful. You can see the full table of contents here.

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