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Vernacular Geopolitics through Grand Strategy Video Games: Online Content on Ukraine in Europa Universalis IV as a Response to the Russo-Ukrainian War


Europa Universalis IV, (better known as EUIV), is a popular grand strategy PC game. Players choose a country to play as and start in the year 1444 with the option to plot new courses in history such as allowing players to form Ruthenia, the game’s version of Ukraine. In this article, I investigate how both Ukrainian and non-Ukrainian online content creators have been making content related to Ruthenia and Ukraine as a response to Russia’s February 2022 invasion of Ukraine. I highlight how this content allows creators and viewers to voice their opinions on the war, build a sense of solidarity with the Ukrainian military, debate issues related to the war, and raise money for Ukrainians in need. Through close readings of this content, I offer an analysis of how this community uses the game to build a "vernacular geopolitics" in which information about and understandings of international relations and conflicts develop in non-elite settings. 


Russia, Ukraine, geopolitics, non-elite, vernacular, video games, popular culture

Research Article (PDF)

Author Biography

Jacob Lassin

Jacob Lassin is a Teaching Fellow at the Havighurst Center and a Visiting Assistant Professor in the Department of Media, Journalism, and Film at Miami University. His research focuses on the intersection of religion, politics, literature and new media in Russia and the former Soviet Union. He is currently working on a book project titled Sacred Sites: Russian Orthodox Cultural Politics Online, which explores how websites run by the Russian Orthodox Church and its allies work to reframe the national literary canon to attract a new educated elite that supports the Church and the State.  In addition to his book project, he is also engaged in research on different topics related to Russian and post-Soviet culture, religion, and media.