Video Games and History

Earlier this month, Alice mentioned history revisionism in this post. Like she duly noted, I didn’t know what a trebuchet was until I played Age of Empires II. Heck, when we would LAN party AoE II, we would all pronounce it differently — treh-beh-ket, treckle-buck (not me, a buddy!), others. It wasn’t until I played the campaigns that I learned it’s proper pronunciation. But Age did “educate” me in the finer points of siege weaponry. What? I learned about something in a game? Of course I didn’t do any research on my own, I took Ensemble on their word.

Foton also mentioned this here, with his 14-year old nephew receiving history lessons from Battlefield: Vietnam. In typical Foton fashion, we get this great quote:

I swear, a well-designed shooter could completely revise world history and Id run around telling people that Marxism could work if only wed come together, right now, over me.

So in other words, games that have a foundation in history demand extra attention by the developer, and in particular, the history buffs (PhDs, if you will) they hire as experts. (They do it!) It’s important that they realize their interpretation of history will be taken at face value by thousand of gamers who are blissfully unaware that they are actually “learning” something.


  1. Another good example of this sort of thing is Eternal Darkness. The guy sat Silicon Knights went really deep into the history aspect. The roman soldier’s helmet is designed with it’s plume running from left to right, as opposed to the normal from to back plume we see on most Roman soldiers. They researched it, and it turns out that for a short while in history (the time they set this scene in), the Roman army actually did use plumes that went from left to right.

  2. Most people don’t notice that kind of stuff, but that kind of attention to detail is definitely worth the effort.


  1. […] I posted a while ago about how I was introduced to the ultimate siege weapon, the trebuchet, by the most excellent Age of Empires 2, Age of Kings. So not only was AoK a blast to play, it was actually teaching me, rather subversively, the nuances of siege weaponry, with historical accuracy. So let the engineering nerd within me tray and subversively teach you the nuances of physics by presenting to you “The Treb Challenge,” from, an engineering search engine I use quite a bit at work. […]

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.