Materiality, Nonlinearity, and Interpretive Openness in Contemporary Archaeogames


  • Marco Caracciolo Ghent University



Archaeology, history, narrative, environmental storytelling, uncertainty, objects


Drawing inspiration from discussions on the relationship between archaeology and video games (“archaeogaming”), this article argues that contemporary games address three central concepts of archaeological theory: the uncertain materiality of archaeological finds, the way in which caring for artifacts complicates a linear or chronological understanding of history, and the open-ended quality of archaeological interpretation. The “archaeogames” I examine—which include Heaven’s Vault (Inkle, 2019), Outer Wilds (Mobius Digital, 2019), The Forgotten City (Modern Storyteller, 2021), and Elden Ring (FromSoftware, 2022)—capture these concepts by implementing a variety of gameplay and narrative mechanics. In addition to embedding archaeological objects at the level of representation, these games turn archaeological theory into a gameplay practice—a process potentially leading to the emergence of collaborative and creative storytelling within what I call archaeological fandom.


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How to Cite

Caracciolo, M. (2022) “Materiality, Nonlinearity, and Interpretive Openness in Contemporary Archaeogames”, Eludamos: Journal for Computer Game Culture, 13(1), pp. 29–47. doi: 10.7557/23.6618.