First Advisor

Thom Hines

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Graphic Design and University Honors




Card games -- Design, Collective memory, Educational games, History -- Study and teaching, Japan -- History -- Study and teaching, Samurai -- Study and teaching




Players take the role of an ambitious samurai in Katana, a tu­rn-based card game designed to evoke the cultural memory of early modern Japanese warriors. Going beyond token use of history as mere fantasy setting, the game synthesizes historical research, communication design methodologies, and interactive design frameworks to create a compelling experience. The design of Katana is influenced by Jason Begy's concept of cultural memory as a broad interdisciplinary approach to formulations of historical content that intentionally go beyond traditional scholarly modalities such as the publication of monographs and journal articles, archaeological surveys, and lectures. The multivalent interactivity of gameplay generates a unique level of engagement distinct from other forms of communication, providing opportunities to reach new audiences and explore a variety of historical perspectives. Tense, turn-based card play serves to abstract the careful, contemplative nature of samurai combat, but also encourages strategic thinking and role-playing that supports a deeper understanding of historical concepts and cultural experience than other forms of media. Months of research, play-testing, and visual refinement culminated in late May 2019 with the launch of a Kickstarter campaign to acquire funding for mass production of Katana and gauge public interest in games for the construction of cultural memory.


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