Agency and Accuracy in Video Games

To consider the extent to which a video game accurately represents a historical event is a difficult task. A great deal of research and effort is put toward achieving a sense of historical accuracy in many modern video games, but how well can they really depict the events of the past? While we can try to give a player a similar experience to what someone may have had at the time, I argue that it would be impossible to truly represent historical events accurately through video games.

One reason for this is the element of agency, an invaluable aspect of any game, discussed by Adam Chapman and Jeremiah Mccall. “Remove that agency, and the experience is a video, or text, or recording, or graphic novel, but not really a game.” There is only one way in which any given event occurred, and to give players of a video game agency directly contradicts that notion. As soon as they are offered choice in their actions, they can and will stray immediately from a truly accurate representation of the past, and in fact create many different representations. However, without this agency – as Jeremiah points out, we would not have a game, but rather a movie etc.

Though we can’t represent historical events completely accurately in a game while giving a player agency, with accurate information and details about the past, I do believe that we can offer an experience from which a player can learn meaningfully about the past.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *