Digital Embodiments

Attempting to recreate the experience of individuals can be very difficult. For example, Dangerous Embodiments, an attempt at capturing experiences of different individuals accomplished very little. As I wandered through the virtual world, I kept expecting for something to be different as I changed my avatar, yet nothing did. It almost felt as though I was trying to force myself to feel a certain way when choosing different avatars. It felt as though I was trying to force myself to get into the mentality of being my chosen avatar.

As we played around with MakeHuman I recognized how difficult it is to create characters that accurately embody the mission of a game. The level of detail to which I could configure the players infringed upon my ability to accurately represent the players to the extent I would like. As a creator, it is important that the game communicates what was intended to be communicated, which is something that I felt Dangerous Embodiments lacks.

Walden: A Game, makes few compromises

Through each iteration of historical games or advancement of historical representations in video games, consumers and scholars alike have needs that may or may not be met by developers. Consumers might care more about playability, the “fun” factor,  or engagement, whereas scholars look for historical accuracy, proper representation of the time period, and authentic immersion of the player into a virtual world. Walden: A Game, I think does a fair job in attempting to cater to both. The game sets you in a first person role of interacting with the environment and combines it with a historically authentic experience.

The world around you is minimal yet captivating, it is stripped of just as Thoreau’s experience would have been. It allows for players to look for items such as books, notes, artifacts, and rewarding players for finding those. In those items, you gain information that can help players delve into the world and life that Thoreau was living in. This game was clearly not created to please consumers, but rather to educate and provide a playable virtual world for players to explore in Walden: A Game. The game does accomplish its goal of being used as an educational tool to explore an authentic open world. Although some might chalk up Walden: A Game, as a boring, open space game with no real mission, it is important to recognize that the developers did a good job in sticking to historical accuracy, rather than changing gameplay or compromising the games historical authenticity in order to cater to people who might critique it as a boring game.

Awl

 

In the 18th century workhouses, many tools allowed for paupers to create, repair, and go about their daily lives. Awl’s provided just that. It was a tool that gave paupers to build or repair clothing and various other items. These would typically be found in tool shops, alongside

In the context of a museum, it would be useful to have visitors use awl’s to create something simple that paupers might have used them for. It would be a great hands-on, interactive experience for visitors of all ages. Some simple examples might be making holes for shoelaces, holes for buttons on a blouse, or holes on a belt.

A digital implantation of this tool could be used in an interface where users can use a set of materials to fabricate clothing or items using the awl alongside other tools, to virtually create or repair an item. This way users can get a glimpse into the labor that it would have taken in order to fabricate or repair items.

French and Napoleonic Wars – Impact on Britain

1789 marked the beginning of the French Revolution, and as a result fundamental changes in state and society occurred. During the years leading up to the Napoleonic War, Britain and most of Europe waged war against France. From 1792 to 1814, the French and other European powers were involved in nearly continuous warfare with the exception of a year because of the Treaty of Amiens, 1802. The war against Bonaparte, more commonly known as the Napoleonic Wars (1803-1805), proved to be costly for the British, in terms of capital and other resources. In 1792, Parliament had deployed 75,000 troops in their bid against France. However, during the latter part of the effort against France, Parliament deployed 500,000 troops.

From 1813-1817 the State spent nearly 35 million pounds in defense, compared to 7 million during the earlier years. When considering British exports, historians have observed that the final two decades of the 1700s held high rates of trade because America was importing many British goods. Furthermore, the French, Dutch, Spanish, and others were excluded from international commerce, making Britain the largest supplier of goods in Europe.

Because of prosperity in trade, it may have seemed that the British economy was doing well; however, this was not the case for many English people. The reinforcements for the war came at no small costs. People were left in poverty and misery with high tax rates, high cost of living, and high unemployment rates. The lack of jobs left many men deciding to join the military, also causing a rise in mortality rates. After the war, many were left hopeless and impoverished. In fact, many questioned Britain’s ability to reconstruct their economy.  A notable group, The Female Reform Society of Manchester, questioned the established structures of government and wondered if the only ones benefiting were those of the “corrupt” aristocracy. Although this was just one group, they embodied the thoughts and sentiments of many English people after the war.

Expectations of Historical Games

In many RPG’s I’ve played, actions taken by players can and will often times influence the way in which players will experience the game. Often times the outcome may be the similar or even the same, but the players path towards that eventual ending, will be different. One thing that I will say is that video games often do provide a great insight to tone, mood, and nature of historical events. Often times game developers care deeply about the way in which the game develops its storyline as well as the way in which the players interact with the game. In the case of historical video games, developers have to balance between an accurate historical narrative and an appealing game in which players enjoy the content of the game and are willing to make the purchase. In the industry developers are expected to create an immersive, user friendly game that appeals to a variety of gamers and to expect a video game to contain 100% historical accuracy is not very fair. Other mediums such as literature or historical films should be expected to contain historical accuracy, but perhaps not video games. Of course, relative accuracy is still important as a historical video game should contain much of the authentic history McCall and Chapman discuss.