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Revisionist History in Age of Empires

Zonk posted more than 9 years ago | from the not-the-way-it-happened dept.

Education 93

The fact that Microsoft Game Studios picked and chose from the past in order to make Age of Empires fun is understandable. While recognizing that, the Wonderland Blog brings up the (dubiously laudable but) important role Age of Empires has in educating young people. Alice asks if such a game, helpful to the teaching of the young, should futz with the past the way it does. The Guardian Blog follows up on her commentary by discussing the game and the issue in the context of Serious Games. From the article: "With the snowballing of interest in Serious Games and governmental support for the development of games in the classroom, should this be an issue that is seriously debated in development houses?"

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Historical Accuracy (3, Insightful)

XxtraLarGe (551297) | more than 9 years ago | (#12235603)

The only time they should take these things into consideration is if the title is being developed as an Educational/"Edutainment" program. Otherwise, gameplay should trump fact. Everybody knows that the Great Pyramid didn't actually give the Egyptians a free granary in each of their cities, right?

Re:Historical Accuracy (1)

Ailure (853833) | more than 9 years ago | (#12235777)

But we are building on a giant spaceship since the 1960's. Right?

Re:Historical Accuracy (1)

Col. Blackwolf (778676) | more than 9 years ago | (#12235870)

I could have sworn that the Persians started their's in 1850, with the Babylonians scrambling to start their's in 1870.

Of course, we all know that the Germans had airplanes and the railroad before 1000AD, right?

Re:Historical Accuracy (2, Insightful)

jessecurry (820286) | more than 9 years ago | (#12236131)

If there were some sort of certification that games could receive showing that they had historical accuracy I think that it might be a way to increase sales.
If I were purchasing a game for my child and could choose between Warcraft or Age of Empires and saw that Age of Empires contained historically accurate content, then I would probably go with AoE. Now, if AoE had horrible game play then I would have to choose Warcraft being that the game's primary purpose is entertainment, but when choosing between two titles that are supposedly equal the one that would educate as well as entertain would win out.

Re:Historical Accuracy (1)

bigman2003 (671309) | more than 9 years ago | (#12236662)

Brothers in Arms- a great first person shooter - is based on historically accurate information. Including arial photographs used to design the roads and villages a player travels on.

Accurate Location Modeling Benefits (1)

SeanDuggan (732224) | more than 9 years ago | (#12268009)

Actually, there's more benefit than you might think for accurate location modeling. I know people who've improved their golf game on well-known courses by playing through the course on computer golf games. And then, of course there's that famous example of making Doom levels of your high school to prepare for the rampage...

Ok, so that last one didn't happen. *shrug* But I still wager that a similar technique could be used to familiarize someone with a building. People learn by experience and sometimes these games can be an appropriately real virtual reality to get one ready for actual reality.

Historically Accurate Games (1)

SeanDuggan (732224) | more than 9 years ago | (#12268060)

One good example of a game that did bring in Historical Accuracy was Europa Universalis [the-underdogs.org] . You can play as a large number of nations, each pretty realistically modelled. Admittedly, this means that gameplay is not "balanced." Conquering the world with Spain may be a bit easier than doing the same thing with Latvia. Then again, is balance really something needed in a historical game?

Re:Historical Accuracy (2, Insightful)

fm6 (162816) | more than 9 years ago | (#12236311)

You're right, the obligation of game designers is to good play, not historical accuracy. But game players have an obligation to understand that it's just a game, and they shouldn't rely on it for historical education. Unfortunately, lots of gamers are less critical than that. Such as Orson Scott Card, who claims to have achieved great historical insight from playing Civilization, the game that invented the discovery-cascade model used in Age of Empires and Rise of Nations. Which is one reason I no longer bother with his books.

My favorite "discovery" is the Existentialism upgrade in Rise of Nations, which rather than changing anybody sense of self, just causes a nation's economic and military efficiency to go up slightly. One wonders what Sartre [wikipedia.org] would make of that!

Re:Historical Accuracy (3, Insightful)

Mike Hawk (687615) | more than 9 years ago | (#12236948)

The key to Civ3 is picking the Babylonians and going for world domination by building religious buldings and wonders and taking over cities by spreading your culture mixed with smaller local skirmishes to crush dissenters as necessary. But thats just the game though. Nothing like real life at all.

Re:Historical Accuracy (1)

Rallion (711805) | more than 9 years ago | (#12239770)

I wish I still had my mod points. Best post I've seen all week.

Re:Historical Accuracy (1)

-kertrats- (718219) | more than 9 years ago | (#12238527)

And how would you recommend Existentialism being represented in a video game?

Re:Historical Accuracy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12245173)

And how would you recommend Existentialism being represented in a video game?

The video game is its own representation of Existentialism http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Existentialism? [wikipedia.org] . I've certainly experienced some small level of angst http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Angst [wikipedia.org] while playing some strategy games.

Re:Historical Accuracy (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12238691)

You no longer bother with Orson Scott Card because of his views on... Civilization? It's not like he's a history writer. You must not have read his anti-homosexual essays.

Re:Historical Accuracy (1)

fm6 (162816) | more than 9 years ago | (#12241014)

Actually, he is a history writer. He just not any good at it [amazon.com] .

Re:Historical Accuracy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12247801)

Oh, I didn't know about that. Thanks for the link.

Re:Historical Accuracy (2, Insightful)

dr.badass (25287) | more than 9 years ago | (#12241836)

Unfortunately, lots of gamers are less critical than that. Such as Orson Scott Card, who claims to have achieved great historical insight from playing Civilization

There is a difference between insight and knowledge.

It's entirely possible to learn some general ideas about the growth and development and fall of civilizations by playing a game. You may not get very deep insights, but you're not likely to get those in school, either, and we require kids to play that game.

I don't know exactly what he's claimed, but I know that I learned more from Civilization II's built-in Civopedia, which had tons of historical information, than I did in history class. More importantly, CivII got me much more interested in history than any class.

Re:Historical Accuracy (1)

fm6 (162816) | more than 9 years ago | (#12241907)

The only insight you're going to get from Civilization is, "some inventions depend on other inventions". A useful insight, but not worthy of the emphasis Card places on it.

Civipedia does a good job of explaining history -- but it's not really part of game. It's basically a separate history text you get with the game. What we're talking about here is how the game itself distorts history in the name of better gameplay. Which, as I said before, is not a bad thing, provided the player is aware of it.

Re:Historical Accuracy (1)

IorDMUX (870522) | more than 9 years ago | (#12237054)

Microsoft has been rewriting history [slashdot.org] for years... why stop now?

Re:Historical Accuracy (1)

J-Doggqx (809697) | more than 9 years ago | (#12237107)

I thought the great Pyramid gave you access to all the different government types before they were researched (OK, I'm a civ 1 junkie, so sue me).

Re:Historical Accuracy (1)

XxtraLarGe (551297) | more than 9 years ago | (#12237665)

For Civ, I believe that's correct. In Civ 2, that benefit is received from the Statue of Liberty, which requires Democracy to be discovered before it can be built. Typically, you'll discover Democracy before Communism & Fundamentalism. The nice thing about the Statue of Liberty is you can switch between the governments without the 1 to 3 turn penalty of civil unrest.

Re:Historical Accuracy (1)

dr.badass (25287) | more than 9 years ago | (#12241861)

The nice thing about the Statue of Liberty is you can switch between the governments without the 1 to 3 turn penalty of civil unrest.

You mean, like switching from Democracy to Fundamentalism?

the answer is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12235607)

yes

Civilization 2 (1, Interesting)

MC68000 (825546) | more than 9 years ago | (#12235608)

While studying for the National Georgraphy Bee, I played a lot of Civ 2. It really teaches you those place names when you have to memorize them in order to figure out quickly what's going on in your empire. I did a lot of serious studying as well, but that game taught me 25 cities in each of Britain, France, Germany, and Russia (I'm from the US).

For the love of all things holy (2, Insightful)

SiliconJesus (1407) | more than 9 years ago | (#12235660)

Its a game people.

G A M E

Say it with me now. Its for the purpose of having FUN, not learning. If I wanted to learn I'd crack open a book and read or something. If I want to kill off Native Americans the old fashoned way with a musket, then I play a game.

Jesus effing christ on a stick. Get your blue state heads out of your collective asses and HAVE FUN instead of insisting that everyone tries to conform to your concept of "HOW THINGS SHOULD BE."

Historical Accuracy and the ESRB (2, Funny)

Alaren (682568) | more than 9 years ago | (#12235962)

No doubt. I mean, the ESRB gets a bad rap... [slashdot.org]

...and now we want historical accuracy?

Two words: rape and pillage.

Wouldn't that prove educational...

Re:For the love of all things holy (4, Funny)

Shadow Wrought (586631) | more than 9 years ago | (#12236129)

Now son, if I've told you once, I've told you a thousand times; playing Ages of Empire is going to distort your understanding of history and the world. Now go play Grand Theft Auto or Extreme Beach Volleyball so I don't have to worry about your perspectives of reality getting distorted.

Re:For the love of all things holy (1)

Geoffreyerffoeg (729040) | more than 9 years ago | (#12238423)

Say it with me now. Its for the purpose of having FUN, not learning.

Don't you think that at some level it will influence people? Especially if they've only heard enough about the subject to see that it's plausible but not enough to know it's untrue...

Suppose I make a game (or movie or book) about, say, World War II, which is very historically accurate but depends heavily on Winston Churchill having a fictional Jewish adopted brother (perhaps to explain Winston's great opposition to anti-Semitism). If this game becomes highly popular and enters the public consciousness, will I not be held responsible if there arises a popular belief that this brother did exist? I cannot simply bill my work as "fiction": because I used so many accurate elements, I have a responsibility either not to cross the line to fiction, or to clearly mark it if I do.

Works like The Guns of the South [amazon.com] are historical fiction; that is, the fictional elements are easily recognizable. Nobody will believe that the story actually happened. However, works like The Guns of August [amazon.com] are expected to be true (though in quite a less formal style than, say, a textbook or encyclopedia). Tuchman has no right to wave away an important inaccuracy in her book by claiming it's "just a book".

Re:For the love of all things holy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12239382)

Oh give me a break. God forbid developers even DISCUSS maybe putting educational value in a game without mouth-breathers like you whining and weeping. If you don't want to learn from a goddamn game don't but it. Goddamn.

Re:For the love of all things holy (1)

Flendon (857337) | more than 9 years ago | (#12241607)

Yes feel free to put education into a game. Its called edutainment. My kids have a number of color/shape/spelling/math type games that provide plenty of learning and entertainment at their level. If something is based primarily on entertainment and has alot of spotty accuracy it should not be billed as educational. Most developers realize this and gamers should too. The fact that AoE tries to be more or less historically accurate is solely for realistic value not education. Anyone with a brain should see that.

Re:For the love of all things holy (1)

Pxtl (151020) | more than 9 years ago | (#12239898)

Idunno, when I was a kid I played an assoad of brain-teaser games like Lemmings and The Incredible Machine (not twitch-puzzles like Tetris). I'm certain that those things expand your problem-solving ability better than anything else. There's some real educational value.

Re:For the love of all things holy (1)

hey! (33014) | more than 9 years ago | (#12240867)

Sure, no problem. We can count on our educational system to have the funding and time to teach kids what really happened...

That said as Marshall Macluhan said, the medium is the message. Kids playing a game with somewhat phony history will still learn, but they aren't going to be learning accurate facts. Instead, they may learn to create mental models of alternative historical scenarios and be able to put themselves into those models to develop strategies. This strength of games could be exploited, if combined with appropriate historical ground truthing.

Re:For the love of all things holy (1)

SiliconJesus (1407) | more than 9 years ago | (#12244140)

The problems with the education system have no place in opposition to my rant. They are a totally different rant.

Re:For the love of all things holy (1)

Tedium Unleased (764661) | more than 9 years ago | (#12243432)

Nice tag. It's so much easier when you can describe (read: blame) your politic as a negative reaction to what someone did. Inspiration is overrated. Oh, by the way, the South lost the Civil War.

What?! (2, Funny)

Short Circuit (52384) | more than 9 years ago | (#12235695)

You mean to tell me the Byzantines [wikipedia.org] and the Hittites [wikipedia.org] didn't regularly encounter each other in battle?

Incidentally... (3, Informative)

Otter (3800) | more than 9 years ago | (#12235729)

Apparently, the Native Americans are not so much a peoples to be exploited and killed off with pox-infected blankets...

Actually, the smallpox-infected blankets story is now held to be a myth. If it happened at all, it certainly was not a recurring practice.

That doesn't invalidate the larger criticism*, obviously, but it's striking how often the people who hand out lectures on distinguishing between myth and "fact" almost always have some rather glaring problems with their own "facts".

Re:Incidentally... (1)

Jaeph (710098) | more than 9 years ago | (#12235935)

"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. I'm a little uncomfortable with this revisionism" ...and to continue the above poster's thread, the Native Americans actually were often partners. For example, Hernan Cortez enlisted signficant numbers of native allies in overthrowing the Aztecs, and the French and British both employed Indian allies against each other.

-Jeff

P.S. The history channel is running a series called "The Conquerors" on sunday. The last two episodes featured both Andrew Jackson's conquest of Florida and Hernan Cortez's conquest of the Aztecs.

Re:Incidentally... (1)

Rayonic (462789) | more than 9 years ago | (#12235939)

Also, a quote from the second link:
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 helps to actually know said history; maybe reviewers should stick to the review and leave out the political commentary.


And...
Settlers in North America DID ally with Native Americans, frequently. The British used many native allies in the Seven Years War, as did the French. Of course, they exploited them at the same time.


I like political commentary in games reviews. But it sounds like Alice would have preferred the Native Americans to be passive bystanders rather than an active part of the game.

Re:Incidentally... (4, Insightful)

Momoru (837801) | more than 9 years ago | (#12236304)

Also once the Aztecs were conquered in Mexico, they occasionally joined forces with the Spanish and helped fight other native tribes in the present day southwest US. I think it's funny how revisionists have ALREADY rewritten history to make it appear that all Native American tribes were simply sitting around smoking peace pipes before the evil europeans came in and slaughtered them. A large amount of Native tribes fought each other in wars for centuries, and when the first Explorers set foot in present day Florida, Louisiana, New Mexico, and Mexico, they were greeted with hostilities. It just so happened that the Europeans had better weapons and superior numbers in most cases.

Hippo-crate (3, Funny)

NanoGator (522640) | more than 9 years ago | (#12235733)

" important role Age of Empires has in education young people."

Ah yes, AoE has really embiggened our vocabulary hasn't it?

Re:Hippo-crate (3, Funny)

Shadow Wrought (586631) | more than 9 years ago | (#12235888)

Ah yes, AoE has really embiggened our vocabulary hasn't it?

A cromulent observation if ever there was one.

Re:Hippo-crate (1)

Spunk (83964) | more than 9 years ago | (#12240245)

I don't know, I'd say it was more dubiously laudable.

According to google's knowledge [google.com] , those words have never been used together before. Kudos to timothy!

Re:Hippo-crate (1)

Spunk (83964) | more than 9 years ago | (#12240262)

Er. Not timothy, Zonk.

We can all learn a lesson (0)

snorklewacker (836663) | more than 9 years ago | (#12235737)

We can all learn a lesson from Slashdot in education young people in how to editing articles. Way to journalism!

In the age of blogging (3, Interesting)

SunFan (845761) | more than 9 years ago | (#12235854)


I'm sure someone will provide an analysis of the game comparing it's story to accepted historical theory. Blogging isn't just for geeks, you know.

Didn't this happen? (2, Insightful)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 9 years ago | (#12235895)

I mean, didn't Cortez use some tribe to assist them defeat the Azteks? So since the concept of using natives to further your goals existed in reality, why not have it available in a game without restrictions? The economic system in the AoE titles isn't close to realistic either but I see nobody complain that it teaches children gold grows on the surface or something.

Re:Didn't this happen? (2, Funny)

aelbric (145391) | more than 9 years ago | (#12238986)

I am pretty sure the Aztec [indians.org] were defeated by Cortez and an Alliance with other native peoples [k12.or.us] . The Azteks [pontiac.com] , however, were defeated due to bad aesthetic design and poor market research.

AoM (1)

Reignking (832642) | more than 9 years ago | (#12235916)

Please. As if I believe anything from AOE. Now, Ag e of Mythology -- that was an accurate depiction of history!

AOE3 more accurate than the reviewer's view of his (4, Insightful)

jbs0902 (566885) | more than 9 years ago | (#12235957)

The reviewer's problem seems that AoE3 doesn't go along with the revisionist history supported by the reviewers.

From TFA
'The crux is that the Native Americans in AoE III "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," according to Kotaku.'

So, the reviewer has the racist view that Native Americans are weak social incompetents whose only purpose is to be exploited and killed. To the reviewr's Native Americans are not fully realized human being (capable of both selfishness and charity, both good and evil) but instead the reviers complains that they are not seen only as victims.

When in reality (not the reviewer's politically correct fantasy) the Indians were a number of unallied and often mutually antagonist tribes/countries that frequently allied with the Europeans. For example, the Anti-Aztec Indians that allied with the Spanish in order to topple their Aztec masters. These Indians did this, not solely for the Spaniards benefit (although the Spanish did benefit) but because these Indians hated their Aztec rulers.

Another example, would be the French and English Indian allies during the French-Indian War. Once again various Indian tribes and mercenaries sided with either the French or English in the hopes of increasing their (the Indians) wellbeing and domination over an opposing Indian tribe.

Did the Europeans do bad things to the Indians? Yes, both as individual settlers and as organized acts of imperialism. But they also acted in a way roughly (it is hard to tell without the game being published yet) in accordance with AOE3's portrayal. The Europeans took the Indians on as allies when needed or convenient.

It is revisionist to re-write the history of the Native Americans to exclude their acts of savagery and genocide, leaving them only as objects of pity, too incompetent to fend for themselves or produce noble achievements. This revisionism which denies the Native Americans their true history and their ability & potential to share in the both the horrors and grandeurs of basic human nature is racist.

The review's problem seems to be that AOE3 does not exclude the self-interested actions in favour of the reviewer's political point of view. The reviewer's view of history is more revisionist than AOE3s.

Re:AOE3 more accurate than the reviewer's view of (1)

robertjw (728654) | more than 9 years ago | (#12237617)

Did the Europeans do bad things to the Indians? Yes, both as individual settlers and as organized acts of imperialism.

Let's not forget that the Indians did do some nasty things to settlers. They may have been provoked, even justified, but that doesn't mean it didn't happen.

Re:AOE3 more accurate than the reviewer's view of (1)

Quill_28 (553921) | more than 9 years ago | (#12237991)

I remember reading something about the Indians that lived in the Grand Canyon during the time the Eurpoeans came over.

It was something like the Indians "displaced" a other Indian tribe in the 1400s, and then the Europeans "murdered" them in the 1800s or something like that.

They never defined displaced but I think it was the same thing the europeans did.

Idoits (2, Interesting)

PapaBoojum (232247) | more than 9 years ago | (#12236019)

"With the snowballing of interest in Serious Games and governmental support for the development of games in the classroom, should this be an issue that is seriously debated in development houses?"

NO.

Not with a game that is CLEARLY designed and marketed as ENTERTAINMENT.

If a child's primary source of learning history and historical content if a freakin' computer game, that child is already hopelessly borked.

Who ARE these IDIOTS who demand or even suggest that the entertainment industry shoulder the burden for rearing everyone's children?

Re:Idoits (2, Interesting)

nelsonal (549144) | more than 9 years ago | (#12237311)

I'd be surprised if anyone here of a certain age didn't learn more about pirates and 15th century politics from Sid Meier's Pirates than any other source. Certainly we played it to have fun, but after a few games you learned why Drake chose a Pinace over a Galleon when raiding.

Re:Idiots (1)

PapaBoojum (232247) | more than 9 years ago | (#12238938)

I'd be surprised if anyone here of a certain age didn't learn more about pirates and 15th century politics from Sid Meier's Pirates than any other source.

I never played that, but I can say I learned a metric sh*tload of vocabulary terms from playing D&D back in the day.

I'm not saying games ~can't~ educate, but for the blogger in the original post to imply that game makers have some sort of responsibility to be historically or factually accurate in works designed strictly for entertainment is just stupid goofy.

Re:Idoits (1)

rathehun (818491) | more than 9 years ago | (#12241640)

When I was about eleven or twelve, I bought or was given a copy of the original Age of Empires. I remember avidly reading the "Historical Info" section at the beginning of each scenario, and then actually looking up these things.

I now study History as my major, so while I won't make any stupid direct links between the two, I will say that it helped sustain an interest in history which was started earlier by reading things stories about Greek gods and "Myths and Legends of Ye Olde England"...

It was a fun game, and the fact that it had a pseudo-historical angle to it meant that I cared enough to look these things up.

Re:Idoits (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12246776)

Couldn't agree more...and I'm building educational games :)
Absurd expectations like this hinder the kind of work I'm trying to do.
I don't expect Survivor to accurately depict life in the South Pacific (or wherever those crazy kids are doing their thing these days). Similarly I don't expect a games whose purpose is entertainment to provide accurate historical information. And to expect either of these would be foolish. Both are entertainment and we should not expect them to be more than that.
A game doesn't happen by accident, so education is either going to be a part of its architecture or it isn't. Don't look for what isn't there. If you want a game that educates, make an educational game. I'm working with content-experts and researchers at a large university now to make games where learning is part of the architecture and not an unintended side effect. These games can, should and will be tested extensively for relevance and accuracy, by the very people who are qualified to make sure judgments. Entertainment games should be held to different standards...not higher, not lower, just different. This is a rational approach to this issue, and furthers the cause of getting games taken seriously as a medium, which we are, believe it or not, achieving by degrees. Articles like this do not help that cause.

Age of Empires II tutorial campaign... (2, Funny)

Chris Mattern (191822) | more than 9 years ago | (#12236165)

I *was* a little disconcerted to learn that William Wallace *won* the battle of Falkirk...

Chris Mattern

Why stop at AoE? (2, Funny)

wallykeyster (818978) | more than 9 years ago | (#12236260)

I suggest we bring Doom to task for their abuse of the known laws of physics in building a game around an interdimensional portal on Mars. Also, Madden 2004 allowed me to trade Randy Moss to the Cincinatti Bengals and win the Super Bowl, yet we know this didn't happen. This is a friggin' outrage!

When are we going to wake up and realize that everyone else must do a better job of raising my children?

Re:Why stop at AoE? (1)

robertjw (728654) | more than 9 years ago | (#12237817)

First, let me say that I'm a total advocate of people taking responsibility for their own lives. Be responsible for your own children!!!

That aside, I must say that this is an issue that really irritates me. Many kids won't stay awake through any of their schoolwork, and learn more from games and movies than they do their formal education. Would it be so difficult to portray some of these things accurately. Now, obviously, some of the gameplay can't be accurate. As is posted elsewhere, Hittites didn't battle Native Americans, etc... Could you at LEAST get the names, places and geography right?

In your example of Madden 2004, at least Randy Moss was on the Vikings squad and there was a somewhat realistic portrayal of the trade process. If the game came out with Randy Moss playing for the Jets, there would be riots in the street.

Game publishers and movie makers have the right to publish what they like, and I appreciate that. I just wish they would show a little responsibility. Don't take "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" and make it a happy cartoon. Victor Hugo would be mortified. The entertainment industry regularly ruins MANY classic stories, both real and fictional (Snow White, Pocahontas, any Disney movie about the Arthurian legends, The Three Musketeers, Man in the Iron Mask, Count of Monte Christo, Pearl Harbor, etc, etc, etc....). Most people won't ever read these stories on their own, would it kill them to stick somewhat close to the story?

Re:Why stop at AoE? (1)

wallykeyster (818978) | more than 9 years ago | (#12238411)

I actually do agree with your sentiment. I hate all the Hollywood massacres of actual events (e.g. Pearl Harbor, Titanic, JFK). However, I tend to draw the line at games, especially those not built on a foundation of reality. If EA shipped Madden with inaccurate rosters, there would be mass protests from fans because they expect the rosters to be accurate (with the exception of late trades and late signees). AoE players should have no expectation of historical accuracy.

Hollywood (1)

Detritus (11846) | more than 9 years ago | (#12239600)

Hollywood does get it right on occasion, see Tora! Tora! Tora! [imdb.com] vs. Pearl Harbor [imdb.com] .

Re:Why stop at AoE? (1)

PapaBoojum (232247) | more than 9 years ago | (#12239057)

That aside, I must say that this is an issue that really irritates me. Many kids won't stay awake through any of their schoolwork, and learn more from games and movies than they do their formal education.

Then thats a failing of the parents and the children themselves. Don't push the responsibility and burden of eductation on the entertainment industry.

Would it be so difficult to portray some of these things accurately...

They do portray ~some~ things accurately, or accurately enough to set up a context for gameplay.

Could you at LEAST get the names, places and geography right?

Games are supposed to be fun and enjoyable. So a LOT of things have to be simplified, scaled or removed to make the gameplay flow in an enjoyable manner.

Demanding the gamemakers get the geography right is a perfect example of something it would be suicidal for the gamemakers to do: How many people would play a RTS game like AOE where it takes your army literally days, weeks or months to march or sail to the enemy's location?

If people want historical accuracy, they should read an encyclopedia. If they want geographical accuracy, read an atlas.

Re:Why stop at AoE? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12239685)

> As is posted elsewhere, Hittites didn't battle Native Americans, etc... Could you at LEAST get the names, places and geography right?

I play on a random map. That makes it pretty hard to get the geography right, dunnit?

Here is an idea... (1)

nathanmace (839928) | more than 9 years ago | (#12236278)

"Alice asks if such a game, helpful to the teaching of the young, should futz with the past the way it does."

How about kids learn history from History Books. It's a game. Let it be a game. If you are so worried about your kids learning incorrect historical facts, maybe should explain that games like that aren't meant to be realistic.

Re:Here is an idea... (1)

DJCF (805487) | more than 9 years ago | (#12245869)

Hi!

I have no intension of reading a history book for this simple reason: they are very, very boring (to me. YMMV.)

On the other hand, I'll challenge you to a game of AOE any time you like. Even if this infringes on studying for my history exam.

Now wouldn't it be so much more efficient if we could learn and play at the same time? I don't think TFA was asking for gameplay to be changed, so this would have zero effect on the "fun" aspect of the games. Only the educational aspect.

Last point: Think back to primary school. Wouldn't you much rather play AOE if you get all your work done early than the crap that passses for "edutainment"?

Learning from video games (1)

yotto (590067) | more than 9 years ago | (#12236543)

I'm all for learning history from a video game, but really, that's not the point of AOE. I mean, the only realistic part of AOE is that you have to keep giving people orders or they'll laze around doing nothing.
I would have loved, in high school history class, to have been able to play a realistic campaign game of whatever period of history I was learning. If those games exist now, I would buy them. But just because game has a historical theme doesn't mean that it's going to be accurate.

Re:Learning from video games (1)

DJCF (805487) | more than 9 years ago | (#12245891)

But just because game has a historical theme doesn't mean that it's going to be accurate.

No, but it should be.

I'd much rather spend a few hours having fun and learning than spend a few hours having fun and not learning.

Revisionist History (1)

Stormcrow309 (590240) | more than 9 years ago | (#12236594)

I just want to know which history is being revised? Was it correct it the first place? Why is it being revised?

Let's get serious for a second, using a rts game to teach history is silly. That is what the History Channel is for.

Re:Revisionist History (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12245305)

Let's get serious for a second, using a rts game to teach history is silly. That is what the History Channel is for.

I take it you haven't see the short (~30 minute) shows were they use the Rome: Total War tactical engine to simulate ancient battles like Thermopolyae.

Re:Revisionist History (1)

DJCF (805487) | more than 9 years ago | (#12245914)

There is a minor problem there. The History Channel is boring. AOE is not. It's much easier to get kids to play AOE than to watch the History Channel.

Let's face it! Games are *fun*! Here we have a real chance to teach history in an *interesting* and *accessible* way, and we blow it like Hollywood on a cheap biopic.

Shame, really.

It IS historically accurate (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12236857)

Any historian will tell you the Chinese were victims of a 2v1 rush by the Franks and Britons, and that they received absolutely no help from their neighboring allies, the Mongols. Thusly, the Chinese resigned only 10:23 into the Post-Imperial Age.

This is basic stuff, people.

You win some, you lose some (2, Insightful)

IorDMUX (870522) | more than 9 years ago | (#12236988)

Though it would be quite nice to see an Age of Empires campaign that accurately represented some period in history, no army in history has ever been as successful as the play is required to be in these games.

I don't think the user would be as appreciative if you were required to lose an average third of the scenarios to keep things historically accurate.

"Objective: Hold off the Spanish assault for three grudging hours until you run out or resources and are ownzed."

Re:You win some, you lose some (1)

rathehun (818491) | more than 9 years ago | (#12241662)

Yeah, but some of the user-created scenarios are beautiful works of art.

Gordon Farrel is probably my favourite designer. Find some of his work here - http://aoe.heavengames.com/dl-php/lister.php?categ ory=spscen&rating=top [heavengames.com] .

His campaigns about the Pelopennesean war and the Persian War were some of the coolest ever, and I think he got hired later by Ensemble.?

Re:You win some, you lose some (1)

DJCF (805487) | more than 9 years ago | (#12245965)

Actually, I think some scenarios where you can't win would add nice touches to the emotioneering [freemangames.com] aspect of the campaign. My ego does tend to be a little inflated when I know it's my destiny to never lose a single battle...

(Wasn't there a Starcraft map where you had to hold off the Zerg for 30 minutes before they finally overran your base? Or how about the map with the Xel'Naga temple? Not really the same though, I'm afraid...)

Romans versus Germans... (1)

ronfar (52216) | more than 9 years ago | (#12237286)

When I was a kid I would occaisionally play paper box games based on real wars or conflicts. I remember one based on German tribes versus Romans, based on the historical sacking of Rome. Now, I guess if teachers were using this as an educational game, and the Roman player was outplaying the German player, teacher would say, "ok, you are doing to well, you have to let the German's win."

romance of the three kingdoms? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12237426)

somewhat different game, but...

the "romance of the three kingdoms" series has taught me a lot about the decline of the han dynasty in 2nd-3rd century AD china.

the games are based on a novel that itself is based on a rather mystical understanding of history and nature. is it similar to real life? hardly. is it good entertainment? totally.

whoever i play in romance of the three kingdoms, wins. in reality, of course, most of the people i play ended up dead long before China settled down again. i've learned that because the instruction manual and biographies of the characters say what ACTUALLY happened to them.

provided AoE III doesn't say, "This is how history happened!" i think most kids will be smart enough to recognize that it's just a RTS with loose historical connections.

after devoting large chunks of my childhood to playing Rot3K, i remembered it fondly. when i began college, i gained access to libraries with monographs on what ACTUALLY went on during that timeperiod. i think some AoEIII kids will find the historical period facinating enough to do the same, in their own time.

The real point is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12237616)

We should educate the young that all history education is subjective and to search for multiple points of refence on any event in history and weigh them against the credibility of the source before believing everything their told as the single truth.

Re:The real point is... (1)

Zareste (761710) | more than 9 years ago | (#12238733)

Technically, we should teach them to think for themselves, but this is the opposite of obeying and bending over for authority so it wouldn't make sense to have the school system shove it down kids' throats.

Also, yeah, if someone has to stifle another take on history, then theirs is bullshit.

It's not just games ... (1)

Breakerofthings (321914) | more than 9 years ago | (#12238022)

I learned most of what I know about how the American government works from Tom Clancy and Martin Sheen.

Sad, but true.

(come on, cut me some slack. I never claimed that I knew much :)

Re:It's not just games ... (1)

DJCF (805487) | more than 9 years ago | (#12246035)

I was so impressed with Splinter Cell's quotes on the Fifth Freedom I decided to have one of them as my MSN Messenger name. All week, I was IM'd by university majors several years older than me commenting on how (philosophically|politically) impressive my nick was!

(They were decidedly less impressed when I said it was from a game. So I gave up saying it was. Sad, but true!)

Thats the way! (1)

jweric (730384) | more than 9 years ago | (#12238060)

All we need to do is put AoE in all classrooms(at least ones that have history teachers in them) so we can play it durring class. Now THAT would have made me want to go to school.
On a side note... I actually had a CAD class like that. The class started at 6:45 am and every Friday we were able to do what we wished on the computers. I played AoE a few times. But I mainly was playin scorched earth(2D/3D) a few times. Let it be known I got nothing done on those days :)

The game has excellent historical accuracy.. (1)

MBraynard (653724) | more than 9 years ago | (#12238480)

In the documentation. You can read up on each of the civilizations featured in the game on one of the pre-game screens. There's about a page or two on each of the civilizations that is very accurate and portrays them each in a favorable light.

The accuracy of the gameplay itself is primafacia non-accurate as buildings do not manufacture soldiers IRL.

What, no Rome: Total War? (1)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 9 years ago | (#12238976)

Maybe Microsoft and AoE3 are better, juicier journalistic targets, but Rome: Total War [totalwar.com] attempts to make a larger overture toward historical correctness.

It did fall a bit short, though. Most notable was the inclusion of three separate Roman factions which fight alongside each other until a civil war erupts among them. While giving the Romans three factions, versus every other nation's one, allows the Empire to spread swiftly across the map, the historical accuracy of having three factions came under harsh scrutiny.

This (and other issues) led to the formation of an independent mod group which released Rome: Total Realism [twcenter.net] , which alters the normal R:TW game in order to enhance the historical accuracy of the game. It's a very popular mod, and most people who use the mod like it so well that they don't play the unmodded game afterwards.

Does R:TW/RTR educate? Yes, some. It does teach you about how war was waged around 200 BC, including the use of mixed forces, the devastating power and the horrid weakness of the phalanx, city siege, and the importance of soldier morale on the battlefield. You also learn (some) geography since the entire game is spent poring over a map of Europe and the ancient Near East. As for the grander history lesson, it's difficult for a game to include a textbook historical message that really sticks with the player. While R:TW does make occasional references to important historical events, and it does provide several scenarios which recreate major battles of the day, there's no contiguous historical lesson present.

Re:What, no Rome: Total War? (1)

DJCF (805487) | more than 9 years ago | (#12246156)

Struggling to understand the minority influence of a small group of people -- Rome -- it wasn't until I played Medieval: Total War that I understood how it was that the group became so powerful or such attrocities were allowed to be comitted.

Then it hit me: Religeon was simply being used as a tool to gain power. In almost the exact same way I moved inquisitors around Europe to bolster belief in preparation for a crusade, so did they. Best thing I ever learnt from a game, I think.

I'll give you revisionist history... (1)

wandazulu (265281) | more than 9 years ago | (#12239122)

...in the form of my Aztec strategic bombers pummeling your cities in Rise of Nations.

Lies? (3, Insightful)

Stargoat (658863) | more than 9 years ago | (#12239250)

This is revisionist history. Revisionist history has been necessary in some cases, but let's not pretend like smallpox in blankets was everywhere, or even anything but a single isolated incident.

Instead, think about how the British allied with the Sikhs against the French. Or the French with the Hurons against the British Colonists (French and Indian War). Or Nelson attacking the French with help from local native Central Americans. Or Cortes taking advantage of the cruelty of the Aztecs to create a series of alliances with the local natives. Or the British allying with the Egyptians and using Indian troops against Muslim holymen in the Sudan. Or T.E. Lawrence with the Bedouin fighting the Turks.

No, that has been the pattern of history. Despite what modern day opponents of Colonial History may say, the West has historically used ambitious natives in their money making schemes. Africans enslaved Africans, not Europeans. Chinese sold Opium to Chinese, not the British. Indians fought against the Afghans under British leadership.

Quite frankly, this sort of history as being presented in the article is erroneous to the point of being deliberate. Is there an agenda here, or is this just some deluded fool?

Re:Lies? (1)

ConnectInterrupt (732823) | more than 9 years ago | (#12241033)

Africans enslaved Africans, not Europeans. Chinese sold Opium to Chinese, not the British. Indians fought against the Afghans under British leadership.

I understand your point, but thats the same as saying Americans sell crack to Americans, not the Columbian drug lords. Don't simplify the issue to lay blame elsewhere or you're just as guilty as they are.

Re:Lies? (1)

Stargoat (658863) | more than 9 years ago | (#12243725)

First, I've not sold any drugs to anyone. I'm not guilty of anything except perhaps over-simplification. (Though not nearly as much as the article description is.)

Yes, surely the East India Company and the British government that supported it was guilty. But also as surely, if the Chinese did not sell opium to the Chinese, it would not have been sold. It was not the bad British that did most of the dirty work. The pushers, and the pimps, and thugs, those were all Chinese. (But not the thuggees. Those were Indian. HA HA HA HA)

Re:Lies? (1)

ConnectInterrupt (732823) | more than 9 years ago | (#12266146)

Huh? I always thought the British sold opium to the Chinese because they had nothing of else of value (of value to the Chinese) to sell to them. China installed the death penalty for the selling of opium and the British just imported it anyway. The Chinese went to war with the British twice just to stop them from illegally smuggling it into their country. Do you really think those Chinese organise crime syndicates would have existed without British support? What did you want the Chinese to do? Take over Wales and sell opium to the local organised crime sydnicates? Well I guess that would be fair.

Re:Lies? (1)

Stargoat (658863) | more than 9 years ago | (#12268986)

They kind of did. Opium dens run by Chinese were a fairly common site in Victorian Britain.

Re:Lies? (1)

StormKrow (688323) | more than 9 years ago | (#12252693)

The problem is that society doesn't look at the perpetraters of the crime, they look at the enablers.

Example:

PETA throws red paint on those who wear fur. The fur wearers are just BUYING the animal pelts, it's the fur ranches that kill the animals.

Rather than pin the blame on who it belongs to, history pins the blame on the consumers or the providers whent he consumer is the victim.

Uhhh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12239342)

*yawn*

Right, so in the same context I suppose fictional books should be altered to match fact right? If someone takes a game NOT labelled Educational and presumes it to speak the truth then that person has issues and needs the difference of fact and fiction explained. No where does the game (tht I remember) say "this is fact, this is how it was" I suppose Civilization should only be played on a real world map, and cities should only be placed where they were actually built right? Oh no, I might think New York exists in the swiss Alps.

Sounds like a challenge (1)

RM6f9 (825298) | more than 9 years ago | (#12240685)

To gamewriters: historically accurate campaign games, with educational sound-bites everytime the player (Julius Ceasar, or some other pivotal historical figure) deviates from what was actually (verifiably, commonly accepted as accurate) done.
A BIG set of what-ifs would hone the players problem-solving abilities played against a probability engine...
'scuse me, I've got a copyright to prep.

Hollywood, fiction does it, too (1)

cahiha (873942) | more than 9 years ago | (#12241328)

Most of Hollywood's "historical" movies are anywhere from mildly misleading to completely wrong as well. Yet, the views of even educated people seem to be strongly influenced by it. And it's really no different in books either.

There isn't much one can do about it: it's hard to have an unbiased view of history, and anything even close to the truth often makes for a bad story, or worse, makes people feel bad about themselves.
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