Limited by design: history through games

Luke Plunkett, Associate Director at Kotaku, wrote a Feature column discussing how video games present history.  He spoke with Dr. Cliff Williamson, who teaches Modern British and American history at Bath Spa University in Britain – as well as communications manager Kieran Brigden, from Total War developer The Creative Assembly.

“There is the potential for games to mess it up as badly as the film industry has at times, because for every Das Boot made there is a U-571 just around the corner”, he says. “The tension is always there”.

Knowing how to navigate the line between potential quality and potential disaster can save a designer a lot of potential headaches.  When designers don’t want to find the line, or don’t need to, or simply are unable to, we find ourselves with either shallow games or cultural trainwrecks.  Publishers seem to prefer the former.  It’s a shame really, because games which push the wrong buttons – even if unintended – can still sell very well while fostering needed discussion, reflection, and understanding.