When Your Inner History Geek Urges You To Buy Video Games

I forget sometimes how big a history geek I am. Seriously, it wasn't my major, and I usually just assume there are people way more into it/knowledgeable than I am. But when all I have to do is read a comment on a game article and my brain says "we MUST buy that!!!!!" (possibly in a Gollumish voice) - I then have one of my (many) moments of laughing at myself.


Setup: the game is Assassins Creed, a series set throughout various periods of history.


Background: I have never actually played this game. I do however own three of these games thanks to cheap Steam sales (like $10 or less) - because of history greed. I bought Assassins Creed 2 because I watched a documentary years ago about how the developers meticulously recreated 15th century Florence - and I figure if I hate the game I will get enough fun running around looking at the view. I bought Brotherhood because same reasons, but Rome. And then Black Flag, because pirates.

(Odds are high I will get bored with killing in any/all of these, because I prefer to kill monsters in games, not people. Preferably with fire or explosives. I'm not terribly good at being stealthy.)


I have read way too many books on the French Revolution, so I already had Assassin's Creed Unity on my wish list - to wait for the usual ridiculously low sale price. Because I'm "yay history," but I'm also cheap. (Also I know I'm not going to have time to play this stuff soon. I'm still working on Dragon's Age Inquisition. Also I'd have to clean my hard drives to squeeze another game on there.)


Then Unity shipped in a horrible buggy mess and has been rightfully stomped in all the reviews. I've kept it on my wishlist only to remind myself to follow the continuing fallout, because I enjoy "Oops This Was Stupid" PR stories.


But! Today I read this article:


Why Assassin's Creed Unity Deserves a Second Chance

Zack Stein, IGN, 24 Jan 2015


However it's not the article itself that made me change my mind - it was one of the comments. This is where you have me going into full history geek overload. Second comment is what does it, first one leads into it (I kept the user icon on the second for an art history geek moment):



I agree completely in regards to the french revolution. Even early in the game before the plot takes shape, when arno is escaping prison, most people don't understand that moment your witnessing the storming of the bastille, it's moments like those that make AC unlike any other series to me.




One time I was in the main part of the Cafe Theatre when a man and a woman walked onstage. They sat down and started debating the validity of Olympe De Gouge's 'Declaration of the Rights of Woman and the Female Citizen' for five minutes, which was INCREDIBLE. The attention to detail is absurd.


Me: Wow, Olympe de Gouges! *sigh!*


wikipedia: Olympe de Gouges

Author of: The Declaration of the Rights of Woman (1791) (part of the text in English)


She's come up in multiple books I've read, but only as one of many people mentioned in the events of the time. I thought she might be in a book I just bought - Liberty: The Lives and Times of Six Women in Revolutionary France by Lucy Moore - but she's not listed in the contents. I'm sure she's mentioned, because she's that significant. But obviously I need to run down a biography.


It's probably a bit sad that I'm that ready to hop into a game just because de Gouges is mentioned - and that I didn't instead think "aw, why didn't she show up in person?" (I did think that, just not til later.) But despite the failings that this game series has (the actual mechanics of the gameplay is usually cited) there've always been signs that the developers have studied their history and architecture and are making the attempt at accuracy. And I cheer on that attempt. ...But still waiting on a sale to fully commit to this one, despite the game-greed. Because I do have three other games yet to even try!


I promise to eventually come back and mention what it's like to actually step into one of these to play it. I expect I'll end up all squee over the architecture alone, because it seriously does not take much. I'm still happy about fighting monsters in the fairly accurate British Museum of Hellgate London (2007) - yup, doesn't take too much to make me happy.



This will give you an idea of the visuals in game. And remember this is a game from 2009 when you look at graphics quality. (I can't believe I can't find that making of the game vid on youtube, I was sure it'd be there...)


Youtube link: Assassin's Creed 2: Florence Game vs Reality


Comparisons for Rome with still photos (this game's from 2010):


Youtube link: Assassin's Creed Brotherhood - The Game vs Real Photos part 1


Youtube link: Assassin's Creed Brotherhood - The Game vs Real Photos part 2


Playlist of 6 videos comparing the editor's vacation footage to game locations. Includes Rome, Florence, Venice, and Constantinople:


Youtube playlist: Assassin's Creed Pilgrimage


Interview with developers and Game Informer (AC 2 is mentioned):


Youtube link: The Historical Accuracy of Assassin's Creed 3


If you don't mind spoilers, take a look at the videos here where there's a discussion of the real history and video of the characters as shown in the various games:


Youtube channel: Online Knights

Youtube playlist: Assassin's Creed The Real History


I haven't watched many, but the facts and editing quality seem good to me.