Hey, Gamers! So, as you may know, I’m just finishing my last year of a History Undergraduate course. I love history, and I’m hoping to do a masters course this coming fall. And I obviously love gaming, which brings me to this post: games for history people! I’m saying 5 but there will be extras because… history means different things to different people. So, without further diversion, let’s get to it!
5) The Assassin’s Creed series
As with most of these games, I’ve written about them before. The Assassin’s Creed series is the obvious one when thinking about history games. I started with the Ezio ones, but my favourite is actually Origins. That might be a controversial opinion but it’s true. Overall, while not the most factually accurate series, Assassin’s Creed helps the player remember that historical figures (Leonardo DiVinchi, George Washington, Marie Anttonette etc) were actual people. This is one of my favourite thing about history: humanising the past.
4) Metal Gear series
No word of a joke, Joshua knows more about the Cold War than I do, and my uncle was in the Cold War. How did he learn this? Metal Gear. I had an exam on the Cold War the other day and before I started it (because I was very freaked out, my face had a huge rash, I was not in a good mental place), Josh said “hey babe, don’t forget- after world war two, the world was split into two- east and west. This marked the beginning of the era called the cold war,” and suddenly it wasn’t as scary anymore. He’s a walking encyclopaedia of Cold War stuff because of this game. I’ve mentioned before that I first had the idea for this blog because of a lecture I had where I was debating with someone (who’s actually the closest person I have to a friend from uni now) about video games and their use in history and I was saying that games like Metal Gear make people interested. They make people want to know more about history. That’s what’s important. Plus, if you’re already into history, you can sit there and point out the inaccuracies and that’s fun too.
3) Tomb Raider series
So I’ve written about Tomb Raider before, and how it was the main video game that I watched my dad play when I was a kid. Well, a little bit of a personal note here, but my dad recently got sick and can no longer look after himself, so he’s staying with me for a week before going to my sisters’ houses and likely moving closer to them. I’ve had the rockiest relationship with my father over the past… 20 years and yesterday, we started playing Shadow of the Tomb Raider together. It was the nicest time I’ve had with him in a good 5 years (frustrating because he kept missing stuff, but still nice). The last game I had played with him was the 2013 Tomb Raider, which I loved. That brings us to the reason I’m putting this on the list. Obviously Lara Croft is a… tomb… raider so it’s kind of obvious, but (this is probably going to make me sound ignorant) recently I have started learning about the history of Japan (great podcast, 10/10 recommend) and was happy to learn that Himiko was actually a Queen! And as I was playing yesterday, I realised that there was so much history imbedded that people, if interested, could research on their own if the game had made it seem interesting enough (which, in my opinion, it does). Obviously not everything is factual – as with a lot of media – but it peeks people’s interest enough that they recognise it and can do their own research.
2) The Witcher 3
The Witcher 3 is an amazing fantasy game that is based around the middle ages in Europe. This is seen more in the books, but the game (I can only speak for the third as that’s the only one I’ve played) does an amazing job at displaying life during these times. I know when a lot of people think of history, they think of wars and kings and all that stuff… but for the majority of people, it was nothing like that. It was poverty and religion being forced on them and being scared of discrimination and where their next meal is coming from. I think that this is shown very well during the Witcher 3; out of all of these games, it does – what I think is – the best job at displaying the lives of normal, everyday people in the past.
1) Red Dead Redemption 2
I love this game. I am yet to finish this game since our PS4 broke a while ago (and since then we haven’t had the space but we got a new one so I’m going to finish it, I promise!), but I love it. It did, however, take a while for me to love it. I studied the American West for GCSE history and when Josh got this game, I spent an hour or so of every time he played ranting about how cowboys were actually really boring and it wasn’t this glamourous. But then Josh turned about and said “well, yeah. But it’s fun” and that shut me up for a while. I just watched him play, and got engrossed in the story. Red Dead 2 does an amazing job – like the Witcher 3 – of showing off the story of the everyday person. However, Red Dead 2 gets you emotionally invested way more than the Witcher 3 does. Arthur Morgan is a wonderfully balanced protagonist, and the world around him is well written. It gets you invested in the world, which makes you interested in the history.
As a history student, I’ve learnt that history is created everyday… and it’s so much more than just “the past”. It’s about society and how it changes, the discussions that are had on important issues and why they’re had. So, while these games may not be obvious to some people when thinking about history, they stand out to me.
- Persona 5 Royal
Okay, before you roll your eyes, hear me out. Persona 5 Royal came out when the Black Lives Matter movement was starting up. I remember that there was a lot of discussion on Persona 5 fan pages on how they should either stay out of it or speak up about it. I was in the latter category. In a game about injustice and rebellion… you can’t be a fan of this game and then just stay out of important issues like the BLM movement. If you are, you clearly learnt nothing from the game. This is a hill that I will die on. I’ve actually said in a lecture with real academic people that this game deserves a spot in some kind of cultural museum because the debate in the fandom around the time it came out was huge and it reflected a lot of society too.
- Cyberpunk 2077
This game demonstrated that workers in the gaming industry were overworked and underpaid, therefore resulting in a product that was… not up to scratch. They pushed the date back several times to try to give the workers more time, but it clearly wasn’t enough. Whilst I feel like this hasn’t sparked as much debate in the gaming community as it should have, I think it opened people’s eyes to the realities of the gaming industry.
Okay so I can’t play Minecraft because motion sickness (yeah it’s weird, I don’t get it either but we’re saying it’s motion sickness until proving otherwise but it happened with the Unfinished Swan too) but it has undeniable cultural significance. I remember when I was like 10, there was books everywhere. I think I’ve talked about how my sister is actually a Minecraft genius and taught me that Minecraft is actually pretty cool. But there’s so many books, toys, youtube videos, everything. Minecraft has everything and has done for over a decade. This game actually belongs in a museum.
I’m putting this one last in hopes that my partner doesn’t see it but Fortnite has huge cultural significance. Discourse, dances and everything. Fortnite has had a large impact on our culture, especially the younger generation.
So, that’s it for this week’s post, Gamers! Don’t forget to like this post if you liked it, follow this blog for more gaming content, check out my social medias (should be linked) if you want to keep updated and if you’re looking for a twitch channel, I hear 2nerds_1game is pretty cool (because it’s me and Josh, and we stream pretty much everyday apart from this past week due to personal issues). See you next post!