How Historically Accurate is The Witcher?

After five installments discussing historical exactitude of Skyrim, a few recommendations were placed before me. The calls for an investigation of the Witcherseries have me particularly intrigued. I’ve never played The Witcher, or its sequel, and with all the buzz around the third game it seemed like a good time to get involved.

For those finding my How Historical blogs for the first time, a little pretext before we get going. This blog will not set out to prove that The Witcher is actually entirely historically accurate. I’m not so unhinged that I think that a game centred on a monster hunter is grounded in reality. No, the aim here is to highlight the pieces of the game that are inspired by History and Mythology, and observe just how far the game has leant away from those origins.

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Objective Survive, Chapter 1: Slightly Videogame Related Fiction

“Everything you are about to experience is a lie” an old voice whispers to you, “and when you think you have won, they’ll still be lying to you. When the time comes, pick the third door.”

A metallic chattering fills your senses. You feel the edges of your teeth hum and thrum with the sound. You stumble in circles. Reaching out, you realise that you cannot see or feel anything. Your eyes are filled with a cold, milky haze and your heart is striking out in panic. There is no other sensation. Are you even standing on solid ground?

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Gaming Fantasy Dinner Party – Guest Number Two

A dinner party doesn’t have to be a formal affair. There’s no reason why every guest should arrive in formal wear, or point the pinky finger when they sip drinks, or speak in a clipped ‘Queen’s English’ around the dinner table. You want your guests to behave, but they don’t have to be so prim and proper.

Let’s be honest, if I was hosting an entirely formal dinner party, most videogame characters wouldn’t get an invite. As loveable and iconic as so many virtual characters tend to be, most of them are ‘rough around the edges’. Minecraft Steve eats food by violently ramming it into the centre of his face. I adore Raziel from Soul Reaver but his diet consists mainly of human souls; his eating habits would put the other guests off their food. Most characters lack the ability to actually sit down, which would make an evening meal quite uncomfortable.

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And now, something new.

The blogs I write could be shuffled into three categories. Firstly, I write blogs that pose a discussion on gaming. Secondly, I put together my positive thoughts on gaming in general. Thirdly, there are the blogs that discuss History and Gaming. Now it’s time to add a fourth kind: fiction blogs.

That’s right, RedHeadPeak wants to tell you a story. This could go really well, or really badly, but it’s happening either way.

book mc

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Dying in Game: What’s the weirdest way to go?

It was Nietzsche that wrote, “What does not kill me makes me stronger”. In reality, that’s regularly true. When it comes to videogames, it really depends on how you are about to be killed. In some cases, dying is part of the learning process. In other games, your demise will only result in a minor punishment, or have no impact whatsoever. It’s uncommon for a video game to kill you in a way that doesn’t make you stronger.

In other words: videogame deaths are odd. There are two main reasons for this. Firstly, dying in-game usually lacks permanence. Each fatality can be brushed off with nonchalance. Secondly, there is an ever-expanding variety of ways to go out. Whilst they may fit the game in some way, there’s no hiding their bizarre nature.

You-Died

So the discussion I place before you, morbid as it might be, concerns weird deaths. What are the oddest ways to kick the bucket? Do you have a preferred way to go out? Below is a list of some – but by no means all – of the unusual ways game will kill and resurrect the player’s character(s).

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An Apology to The Orange Box

Might the Gaming World forgive me? May my sins be absolved? In my youth, I was foolish fool of fools. In my haste, and childish recklessness, I made a grave error: I sold my copy of The Orange Box less than two weeks after purchase. Please! Hold your chastisements for a moment, dear merciful reader. Allow me to repent, before judgement is passed.

half-life-2-16

As with most games I play, I arrived late to this soiree. I must admit that I had yet to play Half Life 2 by the release of the collection.  I bought The Orange Box in 2009 – the last year of university – on the recommendations of countless, honourable gamers. I’d been told how good the Half Life games were. (Yes, I had not played Half Life 1 at this point either; the scroll of my misdeeds will only continue to unravel.) I had also heard hearty praise of Portal and Team Fortress 2, and was anxious to share in the collective ecstasy.

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Does History defend the tradition of Male Protagonists?

I enjoy finding parallels between Gaming and History, and the treatment of gender in each field shows some commonality. Within the realm of videogames, gender is a topic of debate/discussion/angry rants all of itself. The representation of women is continuously dissected and revaluated. It’s not something that should have to be so scrutinised, but it’s good that the discussion is so positive a lot of the time. In History, women are also considered as a separate topic for discussion a great deal of the time. It’s not ideal, but to avoid the topic at all would be far worse.

[Educational Warning – this blog contains mild amounts of learning and me being more grown-up than usual]

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How Historically Accurate is Skyrim? Part 4

There’s lots of things I enjoy about over-analysing Skyrim, and the responses I get are a big part of that. There are a pleasingly small number of people that misread the title and my intentions (“Oh sure, the game with dragons is veeery accurate…”), and a fantastic number of readers willing to add their own knowledge and join the discussion. Sometimes, one of you lovely people will step in and flesh out something I have mentioned or correct a minor mistake, which is awesome to see. Learning should be a two-way exercise after all. And there’s still a lot of untapped History within The Elder Scrolls.

The-Elder-Scrolls-5-Skyrim-Free-Game-2

If you’re joining this gaming/history blog at Part 4, hello and welcome. I started playing Skyrimfor the first time last November, and I’ve been climbing every tower and turning every rock for signs of History. Sometimes real life Historic details are the clear inspiration for a detail in the game, and sometimes the game appears to stumble into a historic comparison. And in one particular situation, History actually helps to explain one of the most famous lines in the game…

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Simple Fun: How do you Enjoy Playing Videogames?

As the New Year begins, reflection of the Old Year takes precedent. The World Wide Web is awash with Top and Bottom lists of Games from 2014. The general consensus seems to be that last year saw a few excellent games hovering above a majority of… games of a significantly lower calibre. Big promises were left unfulfilled, which left the community somewhat dejected. I personally had a good year of gaming, but I have spent the last two months playing Skyrim… so my opinion probably doesn’t count.

Simple Fun: How do you Enjoy Playing Videogames?

I’m quite often late to the party when it comes to games. I’m a patient sole whose always been taught to save the pennies. The only game I played on its release date last year was Destiny, which was a gift from my fiancé. Otherwise I’ve been enjoying my time playing Xbox 360 and PS3 games that were released months and, in some cases, years after their release. This has often meant that I have played a videogame long after the media hype or critical sneering has died away.

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How Historically Accurate is Skyrim? Part 3

When I first asked the above question, I didn’t think I’d be able to write a third part. I was so sure that as I trundled further into the fantasy landscape, less historic details would present themselves. As magic and mythical beasts become increasingly prevalent, I expected to spot fewer references to the real ancient world. Whilst this is very definitely the case, Skyrim is still presenting quirky little historical accuracies.

How Historically Accurate is Skyrim? Part 3

For those who’ve missed the first two parts, the aim here is to highlight all the little ways thatSkyrim is influenced by History. In some cases these comments refer to very real events, whilst in other cases I refer to things that people believed were real throughout History, such as dragons. And no, I’ve still not found any historic evidence to prove that dragons were real. I’ll keep looking though.

So here are a few more aspects of Skyrim that show the mighty influence of historic events. Educational Warning: Minor amounts of learning ahead.

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