Kill the Overseer!

The Gamification of Slave Resistance

2020
Author:

Sarah Juliet Lauro

Kill the Overseer!

Explores the representation of slave revolt in video games—and the trouble with making history playable

Sarah Juliet Lauro questions whether the reduction of a historical enslaved person to a digital commodity in games such as Mission US, Assassin’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.

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 US, Assassin’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.



Kill the Overseer!

Sarah Juliet Lauro is assistant professor in the English department at the University of Tampa. She is coeditor of Better Off Dead: The Evolution of the Zombie as Posthuman; author of The Transatlantic Zombie: Slavery, Rebellion, and Living Death; and editor of Zombie Theory: A Reader (Minnesota, 2017).

About This Book