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Simulating Korea in Early Modern Diplomacy: On Eurocentrism, Agency, and Early Modern World History in Europa Universalis IV
This is the first of the Games and Korean History webinar series in Winter 2023, presented by Chosŏn History Society and hosted by the UCLA Center for Korean Studies. This series brings together game creators, history teachers and scholars, and the gaming community through discussions over Korean history and its simulation.
Dr. Álvaro Sanz from Paradox Tinto Studios, joined by Professor Sixiang Wang (UCLA), will discuss how the award-winning computer game, Europa Universalis IV (2013-present), has approached the simulation of Korean history and East Asian diplomatic institutions during the game’s development. They will discuss a range of topics including: how Paradox Studios conducts historical research, how the game tries to model historical agency through player choices in the game, how the game addresses the challenge of representing diplomatic institutions that fall outside of modern “nation-state” conventions. They will also address the ethics of simulation: what does it mean when a player can be a king, colonizer, or empire builder; the theoretical implication of “what if” histories; and how the game developers have managed the problem of Eurocentrism, especially in its representation of Korea and East Asia. The discussion between the panelists will be followed by an open Q&A period.
Dr. Álvaro Sanz has been Content Design Coordinator at Paradox Tinto since 2022, a video game studio that he joined as Content Designer in 2021. Since then he has been part of the team that manages the historical grand strategy game Europa Universalis IV, having been part of the development the content packs Origins (focussed on Sub-Saharan Africa, as Content Designer), and Lions of the North (focussed on Scandinavia and the Baltic region, as Content Design Coordinator). Previously, he had developed an academic career as a scholar specializing in the Iberian Middle Ages. He completed a Ph.D. at the University of Valladolid, Spain, in 2020, his research topic being ‘The royal towns and the territorial administration in Castile and Leon. Power and society in the reign of Alfonso X (1252-1284)’. During his Ph.D. he published 8 papers, read more than 20 presentations at different conferences in Spain, Portugal, and the United Kingdom, visited the University of Cambridge, UK, as a doctoral student, and taught different courses and seminars at the University of Valladolid.
Dr. Sixiang Wang is an Assistant Professor of Asian Languages and Cultures at UCLA. He is a historian of Chosŏn Korea and early modern East Asia. His research interests also include comparative perspectives on early modern empires, the history of science and knowledge, and issues of language and writing in Korea’s cultural and political history. He teaches courses in Korea’s pre-nineteenth-century history as well as the history of cultural and intellectual interactions in early modern East Asia. His book, Boundless Winds of Empire: Rhetoric and Ritual in Early Chosŏn Diplomacy with Ming China reconstructs the cultural strategies of Korean diplomacy with Ming empire in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. It underscores how Korean ritual and literary practices inserted Chos n into the Mong empires legitimating strategies and established Korea as a stakeholder in a shared imperial tradition. He is also helping curate the UCLA Korean History and Cultural Digital Museum with his students. (https://koreanhistory.humspace.ucla.edu/)
This series is sponsored by UCLA’s Center for Korean Studies, Department of Asian Languages and Cultures, and CMRS Center for Early Global Studies.