Past at Play Class 2.1: Finding the Fun in the Past

In this video Aris is looking to find the fun in the past. How did people and had fun in antiquity? Did they even have fun? And if they did, how can we study it?

  • Video on the Hysplex referenced in the lecture can be found here.

Lecture 2.2: Finding out about Fun

In this video dr. Angus Mol talks about fun! But wait, what is fun? And how one can go about having it? Is it possible to study how people are having fun and how do video games allow us to have fun with the past?

  • Video on the Battlefield Paper referenced in this lecture can be found here.
  • The Hamurabi livestream referenced in this lecture can be found here.

For this week you should do the following:


  • Crist et al.: Facilitating Interaction: Board Games as Social Lubricants in the Ancient Near East (link)
  • Browne, C.: AI for Ancient Games. (link)
  • Graeber, D.: What’s the Point if we Can’t have Fun (link)

Play: Ancient Board Games!

For this week’s play activity you are asked to participate at the Past-at-Play Lab! You can book a session at

Since a session is for two players we advise you to create groups of two. It’s also a good opportunity to get to meet your fellow students!

When you read this the Lab may no longer be running its experiments or you may not be able to visit Leiden (you should, though, it is a lovely place!), as a replacement we suggest the following.

Optional Play: more ancient board games via Ludeme!

As an option play for this week you can visit the website of the Ludeme project from the University of Maastricht and play ancient board games from their Ludii platform:



For this week you are asked to prepare a ca. 300 words vignette based on the games you played at the Past-at-Play Lab (or the alternative option: the Ludii platform). For information on how to write a vignette see the general information of the course.

Example vignettes