I really love playing “historical video games.” In High School, I did not take AP World, but I played Age of Empires, and sure enough I passed my world test (granted I also had AP US and AP Euro to help me through those areas of history). I grew up playing Medieval Total War and currently have Rome Total War on my computer. I never really got into the Assassin’s Creed phenomena that I know some of my peers in the history department at Messiah love, but I know they love the games. So when I saw this article at AHA, I thought it was great.
Here is a small section of that article.
“So how much of Assassin’s Creed is, like…true?” The voice grows more hesitant as the student realizes how silly he must look asking about a video game in the middle of a serious college history course.
Many of us have had this experience: a question pops up about some historical tidbit encountered in a video game, and we instructors cannot offer much of a reply except to list all the things the game got wrong. That’s assuming we know the game in question, of course.
Crusader-era Jerusalem, as seen in Assassin’s Creed.
I got tired of being stuck in such a dismissive mode, especially because I know that many students come to college interested in history precisely because they’ve played historically themed video games. A course about the Crusades, the American Revolution, or the Napoleonic wars might sound especially interesting for one who has been there. As teachers of history, doesn’t that give us something to work with?
Keep reading here.
After designing and twice teaching a course about representations of history in video games, the historical inaccuracies of Napoleon: Total War or Civilization IV are as obvious to me as ever. But I also realize that, even more than I expected, using video games is a very efficient way to let undergraduates engage with historiography and leave them with a sophisticated, critical perspective that is likely to remain alive long after they graduate.