Saturday, 2 April 2011

What can games tell us about War?

So you have no doubt read about my comparisons between Asimov's Foundation Trilogy and the nature of human society.

This weekend I actually had enough free time to play a computer game much to my pleasant surprise. So let's have a look at how historically accurate they are and what they can tell us about our own history. I would argue a lot, but games are a bit like websites; some are remarkably accurate and others are completely wrong.

In the category of historically accurate games I would place:
Rome Total War.
Medieval Total War 2 (maybe I should put the whole total war series up here but i haven't played them all :(, would my readers care to help me out here?)
Civilization 4 and 5 (at the very least the quotes are historically accurate)
Stronghold Crusader (purely because of the historical missions, which I thought were pretty bad)
Pharoah -the gameplay may be slightly misleading but I can forgive the game developers for this. The mission briefings are excellent
Medal Of Honour Allied Assualt

And I'm sure there are plenty more but they are all I can think of off the top of my head.... Feel free to add to the list.

In the category of slightly misleading games I would put:
Call of Duty 1  -My main complaint is that you play as an allied soldier and you kill vast numbers of Germans who clearly outnumber you, in reality the US and USSR pretty much zerg rushed the Germans who had their forces stretched out very thin. For this game to be historically accurate, you would either have a huge allied army on your side throughout the missions, or you would be a lone German soldier facing overwhelming numbers of allied troops
The Age of Empires series+Age of Mythology -While most of the briefings are more or less accurate, the missions are ridiculously divergent from history. That goes for age of mythology too, but in it's case it is the mythology that is wrong.
Caesar 5 -At first glance the briefings seem accurate, but as soon as I started looking up the names of the settlements I was building, I found that it was not the case.

As for the category of very misleading games, I can't think of any games to put into it but I'm sure there is a plethora of them...


  1. Hmmm.. Yes I love the Total War series also. Civilization 3 was my favorite Civ game.. I don't know how historically accurate it is, but Medal of Honor: Allied Assault was my favorite game of all time for a while (PC multiplayer.. lean-feature. 'nuff said. :D), and I believe it was fairly accurate, at least for an FPS.

    But yeah, I have learned soo much stuff from games. It's funny too, because people are surprised to find such deep and expansive learned knowledge attributed to, quite simple, "games".

    Also, check out Real Lives. You may be very interested. :)

  2. Games put an unrealistic spin on war. The most relevant would have to be call of duty. War is NOT like that.