New publication: ‘A virtual dark journey through the debris: Playing inside the Haiti earthquake’

The chapter ‘A virtual dark journey through the debris: Playing inside the Haiti earthquake (2010)’, pp. 224-244, written by KITLV researcher Kasia Mika, has been published in the edited volume on viritual dark tourism, Virtual dark tourism: Ghost roads, edited by Kathryn N. McDaniel (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018).

The book takes the concept of “dark tourism”—journeys to sites of death, suffering, and calamity—in an innovative yet essential direction by applying it to the virtual realms of literature, film and television, the Internet, and gaming. Essays focus both on the creative construction of imaginary journeys and the historiographic and civic consequences of such memorializations. From World War II time-travel novels to Game of Thrones, and from Internet reproductions of Rwandan genocide locations to invented tragedies in futuristic domains, authors from various fields examine the purpose and influence of simulated travels to morbid sites. Designed for a wide audience of scholars and travelers virtual and real, this volume raises awareness about the many pathways through which we encounter death experiences in contemporary society. What we know about the past—or, what we think we know about it—is shaped daily by such imagined journeys as these.

In her chapter Kasia Mika examines Inside the Haiti Earthquake (2010), a free, award-winning online simulation,  the ways in which it represents and responds to the 2010 Haiti earthquake, and the formal and ethical tensions it attempts to negotiate. Mika argues that through its liminality—the ability to pause, revisit, repeat, and replay the same journey and cross the ruined city from differentiated yet simultaneous access points, the accretive perspective the game offers—as well as through its changing contextualization, the simulation creates a distinct itinerary through Port-au-Prince’s ruins.

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