Video Games and History

  1. I think accuracy is only important to an extent. On the macro scale, I think the history of a video game should be accurate. Political regimes, landscapes and cities, and portrayals of important figures should be mostly accurate, while more minute details like the intricacies of a building’s architecture or the activities of townspeople needn’t be meticulously simulated. If the history is good enough to be convincing to the player and still allows an enjoyable game, I think it’s okay to have a few fictions.
  2. I would hope that students take away the basic facts of an event experienced in the game and recognize that some of the parts of the game are purely fiction. For example, Call of Duty: World at War gives a decent portrayal of the Pacific Theater in World War II. It is gruesome and brutal in its portrayal, and the difficulty of the levels gives the player a good idea of what soldiers faced in the war. Some parts of the story aren’t true, like the fact that one soldier on the first beach assault would take over a bunker after hours of fighting. I think this offers players a chance to experience the war in a more immersive fashion than a movie or a book, and gives a unique perspective of the fighting.
  3. I think video games can have both very good and very bad levels of accuracy in a spectrum broader than other mediums. To me, books are the most generally accurate medium with respect to history since they require the least amount of drama to be effective. Movies as a medium are more focused on the dramatic aspect of stories and are therefore less accurate than books. Video games not only have drama to contend with, but also playability. Everyone can die at the end of a book or movie and the story can still be effective. Video games are much more difficult to include this ending in. Players want a sense of achievement that they overcame odds, and dying at the end is the antithesis of that achievement. At the same time, video games can be very effective in their storytelling while still staying accurate, it’s just much more difficult to do so.
  4. I think there is a lot of historical value in video games, and with the emergence of consumer VR that value is going to exponentially increase. Video games are an incredibly immersive way to experience history, and players may learn a great deal about a historical event if they themselves are able to experience it in such a complete fashion.
  5. I think the barrier to entry for gamers is dependent on how well you adopt the culture, or don’t. With any niche community that becomes popular, the original members may dislike and shun those they deem “mainstream” or “bandwagoning”. Video gamers in particular, since they have a massive communicative presence on the internet, have a powerful admonishment for outsiders and make entrance into the culture very difficult. This can be seen throughout the tech community in general, as the “nerds” see it as an attack on their personal identity and respond in kind. I think this will fade with time as people become more comfortable with newcomers, but I don’t see it as unique to the culture; they’re just more vocal and exclusive in their admonishment.

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