Digital Embodiment

Digital embodiment can provide a means to promote empathy toward people in the past, but it can also be problematic. When trying to create my own character, it definitely made me think of who I was trying to represent, how I was engaging with stereotypes, and my own personal biases and interpretations. In that way, it may have helped me build some more knowledge of my own interactions with this historical figure. However, I also found it difficult in how historically inaccurate it feels to try to represent someone in the past while at the same time the player may not question how I chose to present this person.

While I find there can be issues in how characters are chosen to be represented and also in the ways in which people view those characters once they are out in the digital world, I feel it is more effective and engaging to have a character in a virtual world than to feel as though you are simply yourself walking through a ghost town. The “Dangerous Embodiments” virtual world made it apparent how important the interactions between virtual people are as well, and how coded all these interactions are. I think that these new technologies can have interesting implications in promoting empathy between different people, however as many of these embodiments deal with very sensitive material, people must be very careful in how they choose to represent the characters.

The Colored Apron

I chose the colored apron that was given to Mary Collins on January 30th 1796. A different colored apron also appeared in the Staplehurst Kent Inventory taken in October of 1806. When displaying this object in the context of a museum, it would be interesting to identify that the colored apron belonged to an individual pauper, as that evokes a sense of connection with individuals within the workhouse, allowing for more compassion and empathy. Including an interactive element where visitors would get to dress up in pauper’s uniforms would help visitors understand the feeling of wearing the clothes and having their choices limited. Then, allowing one of the visitors a colored apron, saying they had been “well-behaved”, demonstrates how the parish functioned to promote hard-work and good manners. The colored apron then demonstrates how parishes functioned as total institutions, restricting individuality, while also demonstrating how parishes did serve to aid the poor and allow them not only basic necessities but also occasional frivolities.

The Irish Poor Laws (1838)

The Irish Poor Law of 1838 represented a culmination of the pressures of poverty in Ireland and increasing British autonomy over Ireland. Poverty was a major issue in Ireland leading up to the 1830s but it was largely dealt with through private charity. The poverty in Ireland was due to cycles of crop failures and shortages and less economic development than their neighbor, Britain. The Act of Union, which united Ireland and Great Britain in 1800, led to increasing British control over Ireland with decreasing autonomy within Ireland.  In the 1830s, the British government sent George Nicholls, a Commissioner of the English Poor Law, to Ireland to assess the situation and decide on future plans in addressing poverty in Ireland. Nicholls proposed a system similar to that of the English Poor Law in which workhouses would provide relief for the state of destitution. However, as opposed to in England, outdoor relief was not permitted in the Law, meaning that all relief would be provided through workhouses. Despite opposition from Irish government members, the British government passed the new Poor Law in 1838. The ultimate goal of the Irish Poor Law was to stimulate economic development by pressuring Irish landlords to consolidate their holdings, leading to an investment of capital in Ireland. Not only that, but the Irish Poor Laws sought to keep as many people out of the workhouses as possible through deterrence and limited access. British officials also sought to prevent an influx of Irish into Britain during periods of food or labor shortages by removing Irish from workhouses in England and returning them to Ireland.



Kinealy, Christine. “The Rags and Wretched Cabins of Ireland 1845”. This Great Calamity: The Irish Famine. Roberts Rinehart Publishers: 1995. (18-27)

Discussion of Drama in the Delta

The discussion on authenticity and accuracy in Drama in the Delta demonstrated how complex the issues of representation are in creating and designing video games and other digital media to capture historical memories. Drama in the Delta is a game wrought with racial tensions, making it that much more difficult to represent in a non-problematic way. The game uses real-world documents and images to explain the virtual world and the author of the article discussed how the prototype of the game came across as telling the reality versus allowing the player to experience and engage with it. In a scenario such as with this game, the world references a very traumatic time in our collective memory. Therefore, this game must be extra sensitive to how it represents this world.

Although the design of the prototype is more “telling” than “experiencing”, “telling” allows for greater control and accuracy in the representation of the time period. However, you then lose the greater emotional connection to the game and that moment in history. Just as with historical fiction in literature, we cannot take the narrative of the game as a completely accurate representation of the past. In video games it is important to represent the time period as accurately as possible and with as little bias as possible, but allowing the narrative to depart from exact reality can foster deeper understandings of the systems of racism during that era. The important thing to note is that these games must not claim to be completely historically accurate, but rather a single informed perspective on the time period. These games are important in forming emotional and deep connections to history.