Video Games and History

The Assassin’s Creed series incorporates historical settings for its games. Even though the events of the game are not directly involved with history, the player is still interacting with a simulated version of a place from the past. In this way, the series allows players to experience, at least on a virtual level, somewhat of the nature of history. It makes history come alive because the player is able to make choices and participate on an interactive level in a setting that is based on the past of different civilizations. In addition, JFK: Reloaded, while perhaps unsavory in that the player takes the position of the shooter, does provide the opportunity to understand the findings of the Warren Commission. Players can actually see in real time how the assassination occurred through the view of the Commission (Lee Harvey Oswald shot from the Book Depository). By the same token, players can mess with this understanding of the Commission and see perhaps how things could have gone differently. If the game does not allow the player to try other views besides Lee Harvey Oswald’s, then the possibility for trying out the many conspiracy theories might be limited. That capability would be great if the game was running on a realistic physics engine, allowing players to actually run experiments to see which theory might be the right one. Still, the game as it is allows players to experience first hand how the Warren Commission saw the assassination. Video games can be a great educational tool if they used history as a setting and subject matter because it makes the material come alive and become interactive to the player.

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