Simulations and Simulacra: History in Video Games
Andrew B. R. Elliott
Historical video games are not only entertainment, but big business. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the worldwide success of fantasy games like The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and World of Warcraft have brought about a renewed flurry of interest in formal Medieval Studies programmes at both undergraduate and postgraduate level. Yet, despite some excellent scholarship examining the so-called ‘edutainment’ debate which questions whether games can teach history, what has been overlooked is a more important question: if so, what kind of history would that be? This article uses the concept of simulation to question the ways in which games confront history, arguing first that history is itself a model, before arguing that what is often on offer in many video games is a kind of simulation which allows for historical thinking.
Video games, History, Historical simulation.