Kill the Overseer!

The Gamification of Slave Resistance

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Sarah Juliet Lauro

Kill the Overseer! profiles and problematizes digital games that depict Atlantic slavery and “gamify” slave resistance. In videogames emphasizing plantation labor, the player may choose to commit small acts of resistance like tool-breaking or working slowly. Others dramatically stage the slave’s choice to flee enslavement and journey northward, and some depict outright violent revolt against the master and his apparatus. In this work, Sarah Juliet Lauro questions whether the reduction of a historical enslaved person to a digital commodity in games such as Mission USAssassin’s Creed, and Freedom Cry ought to trouble us as a further commodification of slavery’s victims, or whether these interactive experiences offer an empowering commemoration of the history of slave resistance.

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Background photo by Igor Karimov on Unsplash

Sarah Juliet Lauro at EMPAC

In this video game demo and talk, given at the Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center at Rensselaer, Sarah Juliet Lauro discusses how resistance to slavery is represented in video and computer games.

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    Some discussions of the Assassin’s Creed games presented here appeared in “Digital Saint-Domingue: Playing Haiti in Videogames,” Small Axe: Archipelagoes 2 (September 2017), http://smallaxe.net/sxarchipelagos/.

    Kill the Overseer!: The Gamification of Slave Resistance by Sarah Juliet Lauro is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.