History is an important part of every culture, and whilst it has many adaptations across many forms of media, video games tend to get the most amount of criticism. Whereas films and TV shows merit a certain amount of ‘artistic license’, generally speaking video games are seen as more of an authority on the matter simply because of the added layer of interactivity. Because we can interact with the historical world to such a level, and the fact that so much money and research gets put into development, it becomes much easier to critique when a game lacks the appropriate amount of historical accuracy.
I mean I could be completely wrong here, but that’s just from my experience. My question to all of you, then, is how important historical realism is to you in video games? Whether that’s based on time period, architecture, the types of music played, the kind of food they ate, representations of culture, race, or gender etc. If it’s very important to you, then why is that? If it’s not, then what is it that they do which brings you to that conclusion?
I think this has become very relevant thanks to the reveal of Assassins Creed: Valhalla recently. I’m not necessarily talking about that game specifically or its latest 'gameplay' trailer, but on the one hand the series has been known for controversy before regarding gender representation, but on the other hand the Assassins Creed series has been known to portray wild fantasies ever since we were introduced to the idea of the animus and a virtual world based on our ancestral memories. Now we have giant gods that we battle against, ships that can sustain an extraordinary amount of damage, arrows that can fly through walls, jumping into hay bales from ridiculous heights without a scratch, and any other wild examples you can think of.
So does this level of fantasy warrant the game to be so heavily criticized regarding its historical realism? Are they so fantastical now that historical realism doesn't matter? Or should these games still adhere to basic historical accuracy because they are portraying vital parts of our history and should, therefore, be accountable for the things they teach us about those time periods?
Very interested to hear your thoughts on this, as more and more games are based on or even portray certain points in our history. So what do you think? How important is historical accuracy to you in video games? Which ones are your favorite examples for either end of the question and why? Let’s debate!