Considerations for Historic Games

This post is in response to McCall and Chapman’s blog post.

I agree with the sentiments raised by McCall and Chapman, namely that video games cannot be “historically accurate” or “historically authentic” but can still be valuable by creating discussion around the historic events they depict as well as their representations of history. These arguments make sense given the examples of games McCall and Chapman mention (Assassin’s Creed, Call of Duty, and Civilization), but I think that by graying the lines between games and simulations we can come to a better historical experience. The primary purpose of AAA games is not to provide an immersive historical experience but rather to provide entertainment. Thus, whenever a design decision comes up in which developers must decide between historical accuracy and playability, they will tend to choose the later. McCall and Chapman mention that the more freedom the player has, the less constrained the game must be and so the harder it is to ensure historical accuracy. I want to push back on this a bit by posing the scenario of a historic open-world game. A game of this type would allow the player to perform almost any action. This would allow players to feel immersed in history while still providing the level of interactivity they desire. Think of it as many simulations packaged together which the player can explore freely. Each simulation can have a semi-rigid structure and limited options to increase historical accuracy and authenticity, yet the player still has freedom and choice.

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