When I woke up this morning, I read a lengthy article written by Ian Brown of The Globe and Mail. Brown's article was, at its core, asking whether or not video games like Assassin’s Creed are rewriting history, but he also used the piece as a platform to discuss video game development and the prevalence of historical inaccuracies within the entertainment industry.
Now, as interesting as Brown's article was, I often wonder why we're even asking questions like this.
I’ve written about this in the past, and my position hasn’t since changed; people shouldn't have to be told that video games are pieces of fiction. There's no disclaimer before the introduction of Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men, even though the novel is set during the Great Depression, an actual historical event. And films like Argo and Lincoln, which both have non-fictional roots, are gussied up for entertainment purposes. If we can't tell the difference between a history book and a comic book, culture has far bigger problems.
And, actually, our culture does have far bigger problems regardless of whether or not Assassin’s Creed III is influencing people's historical perception.
In Texas, for instance, a group people are literally trying to rewrite the state's history books to reflect a certain American dignity. So, in their mind, any atrocities committed by the founding fathers should be blacked out of the history books in favor of a more complimentary narrative. History is, unfortunately, flexible for whoever holds the most powerful pen.
So whenever I hear people hyperbolically criticizing the effect that video games have on American culture, I'm always forced to wonder if they're not pandering to a preexisting distrust for the gaming industry. And if this is the case, no help is actually being given to preserving historical accuracy, because our sights are set on the wrong target.
Date: March 4, 2013