Response to “Discussion: Historical Accuracy and Historical Video Games?”

In my classes so far, I’ve had many discussions over the “historical accuracy” of a variety of mediums, spanning from the musical Hamilton in a history class, to the movie Gladiator and other movies and TV shows based on the Romans in a classics course. There’s a reason my professors created space in their very limited time frame  to touch on modern depictions of the past. While a “fun” assignment, it also lead to engaging discussions on modern portrayals of historical events, the historical narrative it follows and/or undermines, and benefits and drawbacks of having something not entirely historically accurate consumed by a wider audience who is not necessarily aware of how accurate it is or isn’t.

One of the takeaway from these discussions tends to be that regardless of historical accuracy, the story is still valuable to the public because it engages people, leaving those who want to learn more a reference point to see what things are historically plausible and what was artistic liberty etc. It’s foolish and a bit patronizing to assume that the audience to these stories aren’t aware that liberties were very likely taken. It’s historical fiction, as you say, and games and/or narratives that approach their historical setting should be regarded as such.

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