Simulations and Simulacra: History in Video Games
Historical video games are not only entertainment, but big business. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the worldwide success of fantasy games like The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and World of Warcraft have brought about a renewed flurry of interest in formal Medieval Studies programmes at both undergraduate and postgraduate level. Yet, despite some excellent scholarship examining the so-called ‘edutainment’ debate which questions whether games can teach history, what has been overlooked is a more important question: if so, what kind of history would that be? This article uses the concept of simulation to question the ways in which games confront history, arguing first that history is itself a model, before arguing that what is often on offer in many video games is a kind of simulation which allows for historical thinking.