This article explores the complexities and affordances of historical representation that arose in the process of designing a mobile augmented reality video game for teaching history. The process suggests opportunities to push the historical documentary form in new ways. Specifically, the article addresses the shifting liminal space between historical fiction narrative, and historical interactive documentary narrative. What happens when primary sources, available for examination are placed inside of a historically inspired narrative, one that hews closely to the events, but creates drama through dialogues between player and historical figure? In this relatively new field of interactive historical situated documentary, how does the need for player interaction and therefore the need for novel narrative elements interact with the need for authentic primary source material? How are demarcations made in the interactive text? How can a learner distinguish between historical fact and historical drama? How can the blurry line between these help learners to understand that history is in fact a constructed narrative and how might the situated documentary provide unique opportunities to teach aspects of the construction of responsible historical narratives? The game that is subject of the chapter is a situated documentary, specifically, a place-based, interactive mobile game and simulation focused on teaching early 20th century Jewish, labor, immigrant, and women’s history on location in New York City.

Publication Date

Winter 12-29-2016

Document Type


Department, Program, or Center

School of Interactive Games and Media (GCCIS)


RIT – Main Campus