The Conflict Between Player Choice and Historical Truth

While reading the discussion of historical accuracy in video games, I was most interested by Mr. Chapman’s point about player agency. It seems to me that the need to balance between creating a game that is compelling for a modern player while still being faithful to the historical truth comes down to a question of how much agency a game developer gives a player. If a player’s choices determine everything in the game, it becomes a fiction written by the player within a vaguely historical setting. On the other extreme, removing all player choice preserves the historical accuracy of the narrative at the expense of the player’s agency. Since the point of video games is to be played, it would seem that a developer’s bias would be towards agency and away from historical accuracy. However, some developers still attempt to make their games somewhat historically accurate, and people still buy such games. I believe that this shows players willingness to cede some of their agency in order to participate in the grander historical narrative. Having the ability to literally play the past adds a level of enjoyment to a game that is absent when a game is not rooted in a historical context. I would even go so far as to say that in some cases historical accuracy is appreciated by players as much as agency and would be interested to hear what the authors opinions on that idea are.

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