Playing History

In one of my last blogs I pitched my new project for my uni subject BCM206.

Working with my partner fo this project, we sat down and recreated a more informative pitch with more information and clearer discussion on our direction. Check it out:

Playing History, our new project, is our answer to learning history through games.

Homeschooling is the future. The evidence for this is piling up. Last year 6000 registered students homeschooled in NSW alone. These numbers increase outside of NSW to unprecedented figures. Homeschooling is becoming more and more popular with the increase of tools and technology available and the increasing evidence of traditional classroom teaching failing.

A common tool homeschoolers are turning to is the use of games to educate students. From math games to spelling challenges. Games are paving the way foward as kids pay more attention, engage more effectively, and retain more. Most importantly they tap into kids motivation and inspiration to learn. This is because the participatory nature of video games allows individuals to become deeply engaged in the historical setting.

The Assassins Creed franchise is a third person, role playing, historical fiction game. Due to its strong ties to true historical accounts (within a historical fiction game format) many teenagers find it a fascinating tool for experiencing history through the eyes of people in respective time periods.

The Ubisoft disclaimer for Assassin’s Creed games informs audiences that their games are a work of fiction, which is important when critiquing the historical accuracy of their recreated worlds.

Together, Kurt and I will delve into this world of history and give our impressions on the representation of history in some of these games. Through roundtable-esque discussion, we will specifically look towards Assassin’s Creed Origins, Assassin’s Creed 2, Assassin’s Creed 3 and Assassin’s Creed Unity and implicitly determine the educational value these games possess.

To support our discussion, we will be considering scholarly articles that have attempted to address the historical value of games over the years. As well as this, we will refer to interviews lead game designers have given as they explain their motivations behind building their historical and educational worlds.

As we plan to release a video every fortnight to Playing History we have lined up 5 games to share our impressions on. Stay tuned for our first on this topic this Friday..


Assassin’s Creed II (2009). Ubisoft Montreal

Assassin’s Creed III (2011). Ubisoft Montreal

Assassin’s Creed: Unity (2014). Ubisoft Montreal

Assassin’s Creed: Origins (2017). Ubisoft Montreal

Cool Math Games, Available at: https://www.coolmathgames.com

Game Informer (2012). The Historical Setting of Assassin’s Creed 3. Youtube. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YmBXkWyLRXo&ab_channel=GameInformer(Accessed 20 August 2020)

Gamespot (2018). Battlefield V- Official Trailer. Youtube. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a7ZpQadiyqs&ab_channel=GameSpot (Accessed 17 August 2020)

Menon, Lakshmi (2015) History First-Hand: Memory, The Player and the Video Game Narrative in the Assassin’s Creed Games, Rupkatha Journal On Interdisciplinary Studies in Humanities, Volume VII (1) 108-113. Available at: https://www.academia.edu/13414289/History_First_hand_Memory_the_Player_and_the_Video_Game_Narrative_in_the_Assassin_s_Creed_Games (Accessed 25 August 2020)

Spelling city, Available at: https://www.spellingcity.com/spelling-games-vocabulary-games.html

5 thoughts on “Playing History

  1. Hey Boswell,

    I loved your pitch – you spoke really clearly and both you and your partner seemed extremely knowledgeable on the topic!

    I think it’s interesting that you’re analysing the historical accuracy of the Assassin’s Creed franchise, and another frame you could analyse this from is how the developers have changed certain aspects of history and how this might affect how people remember history. For example, the inclusion of Blackbeard in Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag lets players interact with him through the main character’s (Edward Kenway) eyes and see how he lived and (spoilers for anyone who hasn’t played) died. Yet not everything we experience in this game can be true, since Edward Kenway and the Assassins didn’t really exist. Therefore, whilst analysing the games, also consider whether this may have a negative impact on people’s recollection of history.

    Adrienne Shaw (2015, https://journals.sfu.ca/loading/index.php/loading/article/view/157/185) states that historically-accurate games can “potentially lead players to question why history played out the way it did, rather than merely learning what happened as a series as facts”. I believe that what you have theorised, that video games can help educate people about history, does have some merit as video games allow people to experience events first-hand rather than just being told that something happened.

    Also consider connecting with online communities such as r/assassinscreed (https://www.reddit.com/r/assassinscreed/) and r/history (https://www.reddit.com/r/history/) as both are large communities dedicated to discussing the topics you plan on exploring, and they could provide valuable information, insights and resources.

    Great job on your pitch, I can’t wait to see more from you!

    Like

    1. Yo!
      This is a sick idea!
      You’re right in saying that home-schooling is becoming more and more popular, and for kids to stay interactive while learning is crucial. I have heard of educational video games, but this takes it a step further! The Assassin Creed series can be a little gruesome at points but when you play them you really feel like you’re put into a moment in history.
      I’m sure you and Kurt already know about the history that extends past the gameplay. The developers have put in so much work into the countless secrets, facts and locations. What I mean is when you visit a location such as a famous building, countryside or person of interest the game will archive a bunch of information on said location. This just shows how much work the developers put into the game past the gameplay. It would be interesting to compare and contrast this with known fact.
      An obvious one would be the inclusion of George Washington in Assassins Creed 3 and how they sorted through myths and facts in depicting him.
      I found a pretty amazing subreddit where a user discusses in GREAT length how Assassins Creed 3 is actually quite inaccurate, he has a reference list too, but it may be worth a look!
      (https://www.reddit.com/r/assassinscreed/comments/9f2a4t/assassins_creed_iii_17541783_historical/)
      Your DA idea is also a great example of the Media Effects Theory. In which media has a direct impact on how we act, think, and do.
      If the history in these games aren’t accurate then will that affect people’s interpretation of history and how we discuss it? I’m sure kids and teenagers would rather play a game than read a history book so these “inaccuracies” could be interesting to explore further.
      Finally, I thought it may be worth mentioning how Desmond Miles uses “virtual-reality-like” technology to put himself in these assassins’ shoes so there may be some similarities in this and how they are using virtual reality in schooling?
      That may be a bit farfetched but here is an article if you can be bothered!
      https://www.aare.edu.au/blog/?p=6879
      Good luck Boswell and Kurt, this is an exciting idea!

      Like

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