For years, it seemed as if the only point in history game developers were interested in was World War II. It’s understandable, of course – it was only the biggest, bloodiest war in human history. However, short of a few RTS games and such, you didn’t really see too many other eras represented in the gaming world. In the last few years, though, we’ve seen that trend change, and with some spectacular results.
Just on this current console cycle alone, we’ve seen games set in the wild west (Red Dead Redemption), the 1960s (BioShock, Call of Duty: Black Ops), the Middle Ages (Assassin’s Creed), the Renaissance (Assassin’s Creed II) and the American Revolutionary War (Assassin’s Creed… uh… III). BioShock Infinite is the latest game to jump into the Wayback Machine, taking gamers to an alternate 1912.
There’s still a number of points in history that have yet to be examined by the game developers in the world. Here’s five we’d like to see:
5. World War I – It’s the weirdest thing about the war formerly known as “The Great War” until it was retroactively re-titled “World War Episode One: The Austria-Hungarian Menace” – it’s not particularly well understood by the general public. It wasn’t as cut an dry as WWII was – the Nazis and Japan tried to take over the world and the U.S. and their buddies stopped them or something like that. Most people know that Germany was involved in both and this was the war when German soldiers were those helmets with the spikes on the top. It started after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand , a historical figure you hear about as often these days as you do the band named after him.
It’s convoluted nature aside, WWI featured the most boring form of warfare since groups of guys with muskets stood in front of each other and fired. It was called “trench warfare”, which was basically soldiers hiding in trenches, shooting their guns over the wall and every now and then throwing mustard gas bombs at each other. That’s not to say it wasn’t dangerous or harrowing or to take anything away from the vets who fought in the war – we’re just talking from an entertainment aspect. But a WWI game doesn’t have to be a Medal of Honor-style combat simulator. Take the classic film Lawrence of Arabia as an example – David Lean’s classic biopic of G.H. Lawrence was a WWI story and featured some amazing combat scenes.
I’m not saying someone needs to come out and make Lawrence of Arabia: The Video Game (although someone should, damn it!), but it shows that there are great stories to be told about this conflict. Besides, the details behind the war aren’t any more confusing than any of the Metal Gear Solid plots.
4.Tie: The Russian Revolution of 1917 & The Iranian Revolution of 1979 - For a country that began as a group of rebels overthrowing a monarchy to start their own, distinct form of government, the United States sure has a history of not getting along with other nations that did the exact same thing. The Bolshevik revolutionaries in Russia overthrew the Tsar at the tail end of World War One, creating the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. A little over 60 years later, Islamic revolutionaries stormed the U.S. embassy in Tehran, overthrew the Shah and created the Iran we know today. You saw Argo, right? With the overwhelming political and religious philosophies involved in both eras, developers would have to tread lightly in the type of story they’d want to tell in a game set during either of these eras – from a commercial standpoint, anyway. We’re not suggesting a game has to be about these historical events – they could merely be set during them. The Assassin’s Creed games are excellent examples of using a historical setting like these as a frame for a separate conflict.
3. The Civil War – There have been a number of games based on the American Civil War over the years, actually. The few that exist, however, are generally RTS combat games simply recreating battles and such. There’s nothing wrong with that, of course. Personally, though, I’d love to see a game that takes place during the Civil War but not actually about it. As flawed a movie as it was, Gangs of New York still did a great job of what a city like New York was like during the war.
Just as there are great movies that explore what happens outside of a war than the war itself, there can be great games that do the same. The Saboteur is a good example of this in the WWII era. There’s no reason we can’t see great games like this during the Civil War era.
2. Pre-history – There have been plenty of games about dinosaurs and cavemen, but none of them have been overly serious. Anybody remember Chuck Rock? Or Primal Rage? But, the development of advanced primates into the human beings we are now was and is a fascinating process and there’s no reason to not create a game or two that explores that. How fun would a game be where players can lead a tribe or early man as they hunt a mastodon or try and out run a sabretooth tiger? The Civilization games touched on these a little bit, but a full-fledged game played as a real “caveman”? We could get behind that
Mostly, we just really want to see Grand Theft Auto: Pangaea.
1. The Great Depression/Prohibition – Yes, we know. There’s been more than one mafia related game set during the Prohibition Era. Plus, The Grapes of Wrath probably wouldn’t translate well into a fun video game (or would it?!). But, these dark, depressing years made for some great stories – after all, these were desperate people during desperate times. How about a game where you play a father or mother who was willing to do anything to keep their children alive and healthy when there was no work or food to go around? Some of the best games of all time are based around desperation – hell, even Mario was desperate to find Princess Toadstool. Enough that he was willing to go through all of that? What point of history was more desperate than the Depression?
These are just some of the historical video games we’d like to see explored? What about you? Or maybe there are games that fit these eras that we’re missing. Either way, tell us in the comments below.