Blog 8: Historical Lessons through Video Games

The 20th Century saw unparalleled development and progression of technology for its time. At no other point of recorded human history had the world saw profound change as quickly. The 21st Century has only continued to see further advancements of technology and has seen mankind enter a digital age allowing for new ways to teach and interact with history.

New and emerging technologies have and will continue to enter our lives at home and at work.  Public historians have long had a well structured system of teaching and demonstrating history to the public. Museums, Libraries, and Archives have all served as means for public historians to conduct their work. Over the years public historians, like so many other professions, have incorporated technologies into their fields to improve and become more efficient. They have also begun to use other mediums brought about as a result of technology, such as video games.

Assassin’s Creed Origins

In recent years video games have grown into a dominant industry that generates billions in revenue and with a competitive market. Video games remain at it’s core a form of entertainment, however it has also demonstrated to be capable of being more then just a simple digital toy. Video Games have become diverse and complex, with advancements in technology allowing for realistic graphics and compelling narratives rivaling that of Hollywood films.

For the latest addition of Assassin’s Creed, Assassin’s Creed Origins, a discovery tour mode was added. This game mode, which was released as a free update, contains 75 in game tours that allow delve into the history of the reconstructed world of ancient Egypt. Essentially creating a virtual museum. the tour allow players to gain insight and a look at the incredible research done to create such a vibrant world. Never before have players been able to experience history to such a gr

Image from Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood depicting Leonardo da Vinci / Courtesy of Ubisoft

One of the best selling franchises happens to be Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed series of video games. Assassins Creed games are known for their unique narratives that incorporates real world historical settings and events into its fictional narratives. The games each take place in different time periods and allow the player to interact with video game versions of historical figures such as  Leonardo da Vinci, Pope Alexander IV, George Washington, Cleopatra, and Julius Caeser to name a few. The games have a fictional narrative, however the players are always alerted to the fictional elements of the game versus the actual historical elements. The games have gained recognition for retaining as much authenticity into their games. Video game

developers always try to keep authenticity in the game to make the world as vibrant and alive as possible. The games also contain databases which the players can easily access. The databases contain historical information on historical figures, events, and locations.

Assassin’s Creeds Discovery Tour

For the latest addition of Assassin’s Creed, Assassin’s Creed Origins, a discovery tour mode was added. This game mode, which was released as a free update, contains 75 in game tours that allow delve into the history of the reconstructed world of ancient Egypt. Essentially creating a virtual museum. the tour allow players to gain insight and a look at the incredible research done to create such a vibrant world. Never before have players been able to experience history to such a great degree

Youtube Trailer

History has always had its place in forms of entertainment. The movie and television industries have always taken history as source material for projects, and even writers take inspiration from history to create interesting stories. Technology has progressed to the point where video games have no become a series and incredible medium that public historians can use to showcase history. Public historians would be able to reach a large audience they normally wouldn’t reach through traditional platforms.

3 Replies to “Blog 8: Historical Lessons through Video Games”

  1. Hey Alexis, cool blog about how video games, like Assassin’s Creed, are trying to authentically incorporate history into their content. I think video games have been a great way for youth to take interest, understand, and enjoy similar history that is taught in school!

    I will say that I was expecting a little more from your blog, like specific examples of “the tour [that] allow players to gain insight and a look at the incredible research done to create such a vibrant world”. I find that a few examples, like two or three, help the audience visualize exactly the argument you try to make. That argument being, video games bring forth incredible reproach and create a vibrant world.

    Again, nice job overall. The foundation you have, connecting video games to history is well done, but it would be even better with specific examples!

  2. I’ve been a life-long fan of the franchise, ever since the first assassin’s creed, and honestly this game had a lot to do with me growing to enjoy history. The amount of effort put in to these games, literally mapping entire cities, landmarks, streets, monuments is unreal. I do believe that games such as this will serve to give kids the curiosity to explore the wonders of history.

    Also, you’re off to a great start if you’ve played the Assassin’s Creed games, from the Crusades, to the Italian Renaissance, the French Revolution, American Revolution, the Golden age of Pirates,,, etc, and now Greek and Roman ruled Egypt. It’s a Global History course. Great job!

  3. I can remember first playing the Assassin’s Creed franchise and finding it interesting how they took the time to mapping out cities and creating in-game files about landmarks in those cities. I read that Ubisoft was going to release an in-game mode that would turn their latest installment into a virtual museum to better connect the player to the historic importance of the the games time period. I don’t know if they went through with releasing this mode, but putting aside the fantasy aspects of the games, it does allow us to see monuments in their original glory. While we have to remember that it is a game and may have inaccuracies throughout, they have allowed us to see and experience landmarks and events that we could only imagine. Great job.

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