Even in the colorful world of video games, most gamers demand historical precision
Some of the more popular video game series are those that use historical settings, and research has found that gamers have extremely high standards for the accuracy of the story presented.
We interviewed gamers in the Assassin’s Creed series, one of the most famous video game series to use historical settings, to understand how important accurate portrayals of history in video games are to gamers.
The Assassin’s Creed series depicts a centuries-old conflict between the Secret Brotherhood of Assassins and the Order of the Templars. In the majority of games, the player takes control of a historical assassin in a historical setting, but with cuts in a modern sci-fi framing story.
The games are known and appreciated for their historical tourist appeal. The series allowed players to explore Cleopatra’s Egypt, the Middle East during the Third Crusade, and the Italian Renaissance, among others.
And players expect them to exercise due diligence when it comes to reflecting actual facts and historical settings.
Respect the story in the game
58% of gamers felt that video game developers should minimize changes to history. 21% felt it depended on the game. For example, some respondents agreed that developers can and should make changes for alternate story or fantasy games.
One noted, “Unless a significant part of the gameplay creates an alternate storyline, or there is a major sci-fi / fantasy element that makes historical accuracy irrelevant, the developers should strive to make their games as accurate as possible “.
In general, respondents believed that games should be fun and entertaining, so changes to the story would have to be made to ensure this. Otherwise, the history used by the developers must be respected.
As another respondent put it, âDevelopers should stay as close as possible [to historical fact] unless it gets in the way of gameplay or story.
Some respondents even believed that changes to the historical record should be disclosed to players in one way or another.
Precision in the game
Video games are one of the newer popular entertainment media, but are still sometimes considered an industry for teenagers, although the average age of gamers in Australia is 35.
Our research shows that players have high expectations when it comes to the accuracy of the information presented to them.
With over three billion players worldwide, video games are how many people are exposed to history.
And they’re very influential in shaping players’ perspectives on the story. Video games are interactive, which means their players can actively engage with historical events and people, and explore historical worlds.
Some of the more popular and older video game series, such as Assassin’s Creed, Total War, and Civilization, use historical settings as a key part of the game’s intrigue and appeal. For example, the Assassin’s series Creed alone has sold over 150 million copies since 2007.
Introduce the public to history
In the past, the cinema was the most influential medium for exposing the public to history. Thanks to the popularity and interactivity of video games, that has changed somewhat.
Video game developers have embraced historical precision when creating their games. For example, during the development of LA Noire, a film noir-inspired game set in Los Angeles in 1947, more than 180,000 sources, including newspaper articles, photographs and police records, were examined for s’ ensure that the city was recreated with precision.
The Assassin’s Creed series itself is also known to hire historians and academics as consultants and recreate detailed versions of historic towns for its games.
Read more: Assassin’s Creed TV Series: Why It’s So Hard To Fit Video Games To The Screen
For Assassin’s Creed Unity, set in groundbreaking Paris, the developers looked at over 150 city maps and spent two years modeling Notre Dame. It even involved fine-tuning individual bricks and consulting with historians to determine which paintings were on display.
The public’s thirst for this kind of rigorous research and detail in games has created opportunities for video game developers and companies.
Developers can add their use of history to their marketing. Branded podcasts, social media, related books, and website content can crawl research undertaken by developers. They can also present information about the actual history and explain why changes were made.
The popular History Respawned podcast, which explores the story presented in popular video games, is a model the industry can use. Another is the historical in-game encyclopedia that the Assassin’s Creed series features that other games might use.
Video games also regularly feature high-priced collector’s and limited editions with statues, soundtracks, and art books included, and these could be another way to provide gamers with the historical information they want.
Including historical inaccuracy
However, what is correct and what is not is not always obvious.
Notre Dame, as it appears in Assassin’s Creed Unity, features the famous cathedral spire. However, historically it has yet to be installed and was added after test players deemed the Cathedral to be inaccurate if not presented.
When it comes to making video games with historical settings, developers must carefully choose the precise and inaccurate aspects they include. Sometimes making a game that is what a player believes to be authentic at the time actually requires putting in some inaccurate aspects.
And, of course, a game has to be fun. Ship-to-ship combat in Assassin’s Creed Black Flag, set during the Golden Age of Piracy, is much, much faster than real sea battles and features tactics than real life pirates do. would never use. And yet, Black Flag is one of the most beloved games in the series.
Developers have a tricky paradox to navigate. To give players what they want, sometimes they have to give them what they seem like they don’t want.