historical game studies, digital cultures, game studies, crusader kings, public history


How do participants in communities of play centered around digital games engage with history? The historiographic influences of ludic form have been closely scrutinized in recent years, but little attention has been paid to the digital cultures—to the communities of play— which center the discussion and play of these historical games. My study aimed to closely examine one such community centered around the grand strategy game Crusader Kings III, released by Paradox Interactive in 2020. I use discourse analysis together with grounded theory to examine the game Crusader Kings III alongside two primary sites found on reddit and Paradox Interactive official forum. Chapter 1 provides the literature review alongside the project's methodology, and chapter 2 analyzes the artifact at the center of the study—Crusader Kings III itself. Chapter 3 moves to examine the first major site, the r/CrusaderKings subreddit, and presents the heuristics developed to identify historical discourse alongside the primary discursive genres involved. Chapter 4 focuses on the second major site, the Paradox Interactive official forum, and places the game and community in a temporal context in order to explore how the cyclical and iterative nature of the Games-as-a-Service model acts as a new mode of game production that shapes historical discourse and historiographic consciousness in the community. Chapter 5 then revisits the research questions at the heart of this study, discussing the dominant discourses of historioludic critique and imaginative (a)historical roleplay narration which weave history into play and play discourse. Finally, I present the synthesis of each chapter's methodological work, a form of discourse analysis—historioludic discourse analysis—that operationalizes historical game studies' grammars of form into those of mode within the assemblage of play.

Completion Date




Committee Chair

Salter, Anastasia


Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


College of Arts and Humanities


Texts & Technology

Degree Program

Texts & Technology






In copyright

Release Date

May 2024

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)

Campus Location

Orlando (Main) Campus

Accessibility Status

Meets minimum standards for ETDs/HUTs