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How could video games teach us more about our ancestors

by Herbert Llanas on 08/06/18 09:51:00 am

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.

 

Video games and their ability to teach someone about their ancestors – of course, if you are not well-versed in the huge matter that we call video games, you might think we are speaking nonsense.

It’s true; most of the video games today involve everything but history, ancestors and, basically, things that can be anchored to something real. But there are more than a few exceptions to this – and those that exist, simply make the world of video games much more beautiful.

When it comes to games that teach history, the list can go on and on until you’ve run out of fingers and toes.

Before diving into some more explanation, it’s worth mentioning that most gamers today require that a game that’s meant to be set in a historical period to be as accurate as possible and reflect things as they were and should be, entirely.

You might not think of it, but gamers’ desire to know what really happened and how things really were in a certain time period is bigger than one expects.

For example, a student might be interested in the character that is Attila the Hun – but he or she might also be a student that wouldn’t choose to get informed using the classical ways. No problem – picking up a copy of Total War: Attila can change him/ her everything about the rise and fall of the Western Roman Empire.

The mentioned game tells and shows the player why the invasions of the Huns took place – spoilers ahead, climate change – and describes their migration into Eastern Europe. And yes, I can assure you that the game developers have put thought in time in the design of this game – all of the information that’s claimed as historically accurate is indeed accurate.

There are, of course, plenty of other games that can show us a plenty of things about our ancestors. The Age of Empires franchise makes us able to control a certain historical faction, help it evolve and ultimately conquer the lands of a certain map.

While not providing historical accuracy when it comes to actions, it provides accuracy with the details it offers about the military rankings of a certain people – the Japanese, Egyptians, Koreans, almost every people from around the Earth.

In short terms, video games are made to help us experience a certain world, a certain vision of their creators. These creators can be excited about the future – but also about our past. Therefore we have games that take place in prehistoric times – such as Far Cry Primal where one could learn how a prehistoric tribe functions, hunts and survive – and games that take place in periods that are closer to us. One of these games is Battlefield 1, which gamers claimed to be a quite accurate portrayal of the First World War.

It’s probably one of the few games where one could see a 1914’s tank in action and get a glimpse of the areas of war.

Therefore, if we are to ask ourselves if we could find out more about our ancestors and our past with the help of video games, the answer is yes. We’ve barely scratched the surface when it comes to historically accurate games as there are many more of them out there – all of them doing just that: letting use gaze back into the past.


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