The UMMAA is pleased to present Keri Porter, PhD student at the University of Notre Dame, who will speak on Friday, November 4, 12-1 p.m., in West Hall Room 111, as part of the UMMAA Brown Bag Lecture Series. 

In her talk, Digging Up the Digital Past: Archaeogaming and Archaeological Practice in the Sims™ Franchise, Porter will focus on archaeogaming. Archaeogaming, or the archaeology of and within video games, has become an increasingly recognized subdiscipline in recent years, with books, conference sessions, and blogs all being dedicated to topics combining archaeological themes and video games. Of these studies, the representation of archaeological practice in video games is particularly important, as video games can misinform players about the process and purpose of archaeology. The Sims™ is one of the most popular video game franchises of all time. The most current iteration, the Sims™ 4, has more than 33 million unique players worldwide. The games are meant to loosely simulate real life, with players living out their greatest fantasies in outrageous adventures or replicating the everyday through mundane activities. In both the Sims 3™ and the Sims 4™, archaeology was introduced in a gameplay expansion with both representing archaeological practice differently to varying degrees of accuracy. For example, the Sims 3™ follows the traditional “tomb raider” model of gameplay while the Sims™ 4 represents excavation, artifact analysis, and community involvement more accurately. However, the line between looter and archaeologist is blurred as both games represent archaeology as a practice that only takes place in unfamiliar, far-away places and stresses the commodification of artifacts. Despite other video games with similar issues (Tomb Raider, Uncharted, etc.), inaccurate archaeological representation in the Sims™ is particularly problematic due to the game falling into the life simulation genre. Archaeologists must consider how games like the Sims™ might influence public opinion and what role archaeology must play in media production.

This Brown Bag is an in-person event.

The Museum’s Brown Bag Lecture Series is free and open to the public.