James Coltrain

Assistant Professor

Game Design | Storrs

UConn Affiliations: Department of History, Affiliated faculty, UConn Human Rights Film & Digital Media Initiative

Education: PhD in History, Northwestern University
BA in History, University of Kansas

Areas of Research/Artistic Focus:  Narrative Games, Game Art, 3D Modeling, Public History

James Coltrain is a game developer and historian making public-facing humanities-themed games. His first title, Blackhaven, was released for PC in 2021 and is available to play for free on Steam. Blackhaven is a first-person 3D mystery game following a summer intern who uncovers a trail of secrets and misdeeds while working at a colonial plantation museum. A larger prequel, Cassius, set on the same plantation during the American Revolution will follow.

Professor Coltrain’s next game is “The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere” a whimsical and subversive account of Revere’s ride in the visual style of regionalist painter Grant Wood. It will release for PC, consoles, mobile devices, and VR in 2022.

A historian and scholar of the architecture and material culture of the early Americas, Professor Coltrain has worked for almost two decades building historical 3D visualizations.


Recent Research Achievements:
PC Game, Available on Steam, 2021
  • Winner, Innovation in Experience Design, Indiecade 2021
  • Nominee, Best Impact Game, Indiecade, 2021
  • Nominee, Best Narrative Game, Indiecade 2021
  • Honorable Mention, Excellence in Narrative, Independent Games Festival (IGF) 2022
“‘Blackhaven’ Postmortem: Designing Two Centuries of Difficult History in One Free Game” Game Developers Conference (GDC) 2022 Game Narrative Summit, Spring 2022
“A Historian’s Guide to Researching Your Historical Game”
Game Developers Conference (GDC) 2019 Game Narrative Summit, Spring 2019
“Can Video Games Be Humanities Scholarship?” with Steve Ramsay
Debates in the Digital Humanities 2019
University of Minnesota Press
“Making History: Practical Tips for Researching and Designing Historical Games” Presenter and Panel Chair with Tracy Fullerton and Sam Butin
Indiecade 2018, Santa Monica, California, Fall 2018

Contact Information
Office LocationBishop 122