Explores the representation of slave revolt in video games—and the trouble with making history playable
Kill the Overseer! profiles and problematizes digital games that depict Atlantic slavery and “gamify” slave resistance. In videogames emphasizing plantation labor, the player may choose to commit small acts of resistance like tool-breaking or working slowly. Others dramatically stage the slave’s choice to flee enslavement and journey northward, and some depict outright violent revolt against the master and his apparatus. In this work, Sarah Juliet Lauro questions whether the reduction of a historical enslaved person to a digital commodity in games such as Mission US, Assassin’s Creed, and Freedom Cry ought to trouble us as a further commodification of slavery’s victims, or whether these interactive experiences offer an empowering commemoration of the history of slave resistance.
Forerunners is a thought-in-process series of breakthrough digital works. Written between fresh ideas and finished books, Forerunners draws on scholarly work initiated in notable blogs, social media, conference plenaries, journal articles, and the synergy of academic exchange. This is gray literature publishing: where intense thinking, change, and speculation take place in scholarship.
Sarah Juliet Lauro is assistant professor in the English department at the University of Tampa. She is coeditor of Better Off Dead: The Evolution of the Zombie as Posthuman; author of The Transatlantic Zombie: Slavery, Rebellion, and Living Death; and editor of Zombie Theory: A Reader (Minnesota, 2017).
"Sarah Juliet Lauro’s questions are urgent, compelling, perhaps even unthinkable. Lauro invites us to sit and think what it means to play critically."—Gamers with Glasses
"Lauro does a fantastic job of problematizing playable history, as well as helping see the way that these games 'refuse to allow the player mastery of the subject,' even against intentions of the developers."—Ethnic and Racial Studies