The Less Obvious Histories

The Less Obvious Histories

History is less about famous characters and structures and more about what people thought and how they saw the world.

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This is why I always have fun with games. As a historian myself I always enjoy looking at the settings and seeing what the writers have done with it. Sometimes they take pretty blatant liberties with the history, it is a game after all, but the occasional little detail thrown in the background or as part of a passing line really puts a smile on my face. Unfortunately as a specialist in Russian history, I don't often get to explore that particular side of things.

Excellent article interesting read.

Thanks really enjoyed this article.

I like both the Fallout and Bioshock franchises for their social depth.

So looking forward to Bioshock 3 and what they do with the philosophical premises that are present in Columbia.

Great article.

I love reading articles that break down the points of games because I just don't have the time/money to play them all.
Also, great analogy about trying to find the historical context in COD games being like mining for iron ore.

Commissar Sae:
This is why I always have fun with games. As a historian myself I always enjoy looking at the settings and seeing what the writers have done with it. Sometimes they take pretty blatant liberties with the history, it is a game after all, but the occasional little detail thrown in the background or as part of a passing line really puts a smile on my face. Unfortunately as a specialist in Russian history, I don't often get to explore that particular side of things.

I would love to see a game about Russian history that didn't take place in World War II. Both Tsarist Russia and the Revolution would make excellent settings, not to mention the great stuff you could do with the Ottoman wars. You could make a pretty great Cold War spy game about internecine rivalry in the Kremlin, too.

Robert Rath:

Commissar Sae:
This is why I always have fun with games. As a historian myself I always enjoy looking at the settings and seeing what the writers have done with it. Sometimes they take pretty blatant liberties with the history, it is a game after all, but the occasional little detail thrown in the background or as part of a passing line really puts a smile on my face. Unfortunately as a specialist in Russian history, I don't often get to explore that particular side of things.

I would love to see a game about Russian history that didn't take place in World War II. Both Tsarist Russia and the Revolution would make excellent settings, not to mention the great stuff you could do with the Ottoman wars. You could make a pretty great Cold War spy game about internecine rivalry in the Kremlin, too.

To date I have played two games outside the WWII realm of Russia, and neither of them were all that brilliant. One was "With Fire and Sword" a relatively weak sequel to Mount & Blade set during the "Deluge." It features Russia as one of the major factions, but the game is really focused more on Poland.

The second was "Hammer & Sickle," an x-com style squad based game that was a sequel to the much better "Silent Storm." The game was alright but incredibly linear and felt downright unfair at times as you were pitted against superior odds all the time. What was cool about it though was the setting. You played a Soviet spy sent into West Germany shortly after WWII and spent most of your time trying to stop an ex-Nazi terrorist organization from starting a war between the Americans and the Soviets. Some good ideas but it was weakly executed. Still fun and interesting, but lacked polish.

Yeah, Black Ops 2 did take a nosedive in credibility for me in a couple places. Most of what gets introduced is accurate, but I knew who Noriega was and I'm familiar with the Angolan Civil War. For most gamers it's just, 'look, I'm shooting black guys with no shirts' and 'damn that guy has a messed up face'.

Although, when I was riding a horse with Mujahadien towards something that escaped from C&C Red Alert, I felt that it wasn't historically accurate.

I don't know why I don't read Critical Intel more often. This is some fascinating stuff and I actually learned something today that was useful. Although I do have one issue with the article and that is that I feel that in some instances games are connected less to their historic themes and more to philosophical ideas from those eras, but without being intrinsically related to them. For instance, I feel that "Bioshock" borrowed more from the concepts of Objectivism than the historical background in which they were published.

It was a real tragedy to me that both Black Ops glossed over the real details of the Cold War. I'm Australian so the Cold War and American politics wasn't a big feature in our history lessons. Yet, so much of it has shaped the "war on terror" today. It was enough for me to dig into wiki and read about the successful coup detat of Iran. A fantastic example of Cold War fears interspersed with unscrupulous oil companies and how "spreading democracy" has been the excuse for protecting national interests.

Something else I was completely aware of that LA Noire taught me, the US had embargoed oil to Japan. I've seen many WWII films, played god knows how many WWII games, generally from the American perspective, but at no point in 30 odd years has it ever been pointed out to me WHY Japan attacked Pearl Harbour, other than they figured the US would get involved so it was a pre-emptive strike. This is true, and what Japan did during WWII is horrendous, particularly to their POWs. But the picture that always painted of Japan and Germany was that they were merciless conquerers, warring for no other reason than to get more land (I'm aware that for Germany that the WWI war reparations were a contributing factor but little else). There must be more to it but it's not something that gets discussed often in games or films from the west.

As someone who falls asleep reading even the simplest textbooks I've very reliant on film, games and books to enlighten me. And as said in the article, it's the people and their views that matter, not the location or technology.

 

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