Video games, historical representation and soft power

Iain Donald, Nick Webber, Esther Wright

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    1 Citation (SciVal)


    This article explores how historical video games have become tools for UK and Chinese ‘soft power’ or ‘public diplomacy’ and the role of historical representation in portraying cultural identity in the global marketplace. In the UK, state support has been introduced for games representing British culture, which are assumed to conduct cultural diplomacy (a subcategory of public diplomacy). In China, public diplomacy - ‘telling China’s stories well’ - has been central to national promotion strategies under Xi Jinping. Although the success of these approaches is visible in game companies like Tencent and NetEase, regulators remain attentive to games that reflect upon China’s history and cultural heritage.

    What does this mean for historical representation in and around video games? Do nationalistic regulatory environments threaten the capacity of games to offer thoughtful or challenging engagements with the past? And how effectively is historical representation mobilised to project soft power through video games?
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)105-127
    Number of pages23
    JournalJournal of Gaming and Virtual Worlds
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished (VoR) - 30 Jan 2024


    • Britain
    • China
    • cultural diplomacy
    • cultural policy
    • historical game studies
    • history
    • international relations
    • regulation


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