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April 04, 2005

Comments

Badman

Bad Ensemble, you mean. I can't help but think that the reason the previous Age games sold well in Europe was because they were about Europeans, and moving the game to the Americas will hurt thier fanbase. And historical revision will only make it worse.

Of course, there is only one reference to "smallpox blankets", in the letters of British General Lord Jeffrey Amherst during the French & Indian War, and no evidence that the plan was ever carried out or that any Indian ever died as a result. People who use this correspondance to accuse Americans of biowarfare and genocide are committing historical revisionism of their own.

Factory

"Apparently, the Native Americans are not so much a peoples to be exploited and killed off with pox-infected blankets as they are partners in your war against the other countries."
Erm, but the French and the English forces at the time when they were going each other did ally with indian factions, it would be historical revisionism to ignore this.

jen

This is something I'm interested in too, & did a quick dig. Found this old interview with Bruce Shelley: http://www.cdmag.com/articles/029/114/shelley_interview.html. Sneakily edited excerpt:

Q: How much actual historical value do you think there is in Age of Empires?

A: Bill Gates asked me the same question. Our answer to him and the answer I always give is that we're in the entertainment business and not the educational business... I think Microsoft as a publisher loves that.

;)

Me

A revisionist, biased American media company? No way! It can't be! ;)

Dan

Bad game reviewers. Very, very bad. There are plenty of examples of indigenous Americans allying themselves with Europeans, from the Spanish conquest of the Aztec empire through the final closing of the frontier. When accusing folks of revising history, it hel[ps to actually know said history; maybe reviewers should stick to the review and leave out the political commentary.

WTF

http://encarta.msn.com/encyclopedia_761575603/French_and_Indian_War.html

"The New England militia and their Native American allies, the Iroquois, fought against French troops and their Algonquian Native American allies ...."

Michael Hitchcock

Regardless of specific examples in this game, I believe it is very important for this game to stick to history as much as possible. I am saying this from the point of view of a 16 year old kid who grew up playing Age of Empires and Age of Kings. I learned much from those games and I know as a fact that other kids are learning from current historiy based games. Historical innacruacies just arn't worth it.

wasabimilkshake

they're trying to make the game fun, and effortlessly slaughtering people who have far outdated technology and are constantly dying of smallpox isn't that fun. generally, the more freedom you're given, the more enjoyable the game is, and if you're only given one viable option and one set of circumstances, it gets pretty rigid. also, most people who play the games don't take their storylines as canon, and the majority these people would have some education in history that they would know to be true and would trust over a game. i don't think it's a very big deal.

/rolleyes

So long as we're going to start holding games accountable for the way they inadvertantly teach history, I think the sensible thing to do is to extend this to all media. Call me when we get to books as I have a lot of comments about the inaccurate image of Egyptian culture and history put in kids' heads from the forced reading of Shakespeare's Anthony and Cleopatra in highschools all across America. After that let's move on to film and talk about the damage being done by allowing films like Ben Hur and Bridge Over The River Kwai to continue pushing their brand of historical revisionism to impressionable audiences.

Alice

... so your point is, it's not okay for revisionism to happen in books and films, but it is in films? Or it's okay for revisionism to happen full stop?

Games teach. All media teach. Game makers should think twice about what they're teaching, *people* should think about what they're teaching.

I agree completely with Michael, historical inaccuracies just aren't worth it.

Whirly

I just saw this one linked from /. and I think I could add something to the discussion.

I have worked on a game who used some parts of United States history. The setting was just post American civil war. In one level we had a coton field with black workers and white overseers as it was up to my knowledge a good historical representation.

After some times we had some negative feedback from the USA branch of our publisher. One guy told us that it would be offending for black people in America if we would have let this level as it was in the game. So we were asked to change this and we did it, not without a small internal crisis. We did it mainly because I am white and non american and the guy complaining was black and American.

My opinion was that they just wanted to be "politically correct" and not harm customers feeling by doing so, but for me it sounded as revisionism.

And despite the fact that I am french I took a shower this morning. ;)

lucasain

To the above poster. I am American and black and male and seeing slavery depicted in a game set in the period slavery was practiced in would not offend me. It would offend me to leave slavery out. In fact in far to many American games slavery is handeled by simply leaving black people out of the game alltogether :-(. Since they game you were making was set just after the civil war salvery as such would not be accurate to show anyway. As a matter of principle however we all can agree acuracy increases gameplay value to most strategist.

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