There’s a startling new change in the video-game world, one which could push us into new directions of unimaginable accuracy and immersion. It’s a change that is happening in nearly every title you have in your collection, whether it be an entire work of fiction or a work of brutish, adolescent satisfaction. It’s a new thing that is emerging in the world of today, taking everything by surprise, and it just so happens to be the most ‘disliked subject’ in the whole of the UK. It is what has defined us, taught us lessons and has helped us predict the next step. It is history.
You’re probably wondering what the hell I am on about. But lets take a deeper look into what history truly means to video-games. For a while back in the days of the 16-bitz, there was no existence of history, but there was an atmosphere. There was little blocks and pixels on a panel of neon that you called a video-game. It was interactive, and you would get excited over seeing a huge, detailed object. There was never a real sense of authenticity, but it was wondrous and amazing. You could imagine the full worlds that you only saw a little corner of.
But now in the age of photo-realism and graphic engines that can replicate anything, we are more than well equipped to handle this change. It is inevitable and it is already happening. Everything becomes correct. The old castles of the 16bits will become actual landmarks, replicated inch by inch, the countryside and city society will become replicated grass blade by grass blade. The personality, the dialogue and everything that any character in history has ever said, it will all be poured in the mixing pot of video-games. It’s already happening.
Just look at a few titles in your collection. Fallout 3 maybe? The Washington monument has been recreated, so has many of the museums and even their venues. Some of it includes the games fiction, but it is still of an architectural reproduction. Bethesda intentionally made it so that you would recognize the actual Washington, just from playing the game. Don’t believe me? Have a gander at this article here. I’m sure you’ll be convinced. I can already tell what you’re thinking now – ‘That’s not history, that’s just what’s there’, well I guess you’re not looking hard enough.
Bethesda is point us towards a history lesson. In the many months before Fallout 3’s release, Wikipedia was surely bombarded with gamer seeking knowledge about their future virtual adventures. The Washington Monument, The Capitol Building. All have been searched by history students but now they have been searched for by gamers. Lets look at another example shall we? Assassins Creed 2. The many Italian architectural beauties are recreated in the game, such as the Basilica Di San Pietro (pic below), you may see this as useless or tedious information. But the way that AC2 does it is almost ninja like.
It keeps it in the game, the whole database flashes on your screen as your traversing about the Italian skyline. You can choose to hit select, and instead of encountering a huge page of information, it’s just a little historical bite. It has the date it was built, its features, famous people who were there and other information. It doesn’t get in the way, but it does interest you just a little bit. You may even remember the dates and such, you’ll learn these. Exactly how you’d learn them in a history lesson. It’s a passive learning experience, not forced upon you in any way.
Daniel Floyd’s venture into Videogames and Learning can pretty much spell all this out for you. You may be still asking yourself, even still after seeing that video and having this question answered, what’s the point? The answer is immersion. Graphics engines can’t take you into new worlds or teach you things, its content what makes that possible. It will keep us engaged and interested in games that take this approach, safe in knowing that we are actually learning something as we go. It is a layer of engagement and immersion that we should push into every single video-game. No place to hide. History is coming.