When you spend your workday with 100+ students, you are going to hear some weird conversations. We all have strange moments – random thoughts said aloud, obscure inside jokes, etc. – but my school day is rife with half-overheard oddball moments.
Students in the playground asking which animal would make the best “were-animal” (my answer was werekomodo dragon), a hallway discussion on “the point of eyebrows” and at one point a student fiercely argued with me that the Titanic was a movie. Not a movie based on historic events, but a movie and nothing else because, and I quote, “if the boat sank then there is no way to prove that it happened”…
So at the end of one recent lesson, when a student asked me a random question, I thought it would just be another weird moment to add to the list. I soon realised that this would be terrible moment, and one that would prevent me from singing a particular rhyme ever again.
Continue reading “My Students Ruined a Nursery Rhyme”
I made a quiz!
It’s 6 rounds, takes about 20 minutes, vaguely History themed and not too challenging. The answers are on the end of the video, so you can play at your own leisure. Should make for some fun with friends and family, or as a great resource for entertaining students in the classroom.
If you enjoy the quiz, leave a like on the video. As well as getting back into writing my blog, I plan to make more of these.
Student: The people behind the Gunpowder Plot were all Catholics. They were unhappy about the way they were treated. At the time, England was a Prostitute country.
What have I been teaching them?
Student: You know everything we’ve been looking at? The Treaty of Versailles… The League of Nations…
Teacher: I do, yes.
Student: Did it really happen?
Teacher (passively): Yes. History as a study of things in the past.
Student (nodding): Okay cool, thank you sir.
[Student goes back to work, but sees their friend staring at them open-mouthed.]
Student (unwavering): It was a 50-50 question, so I had to ask.
If you do not ask, you do not learn.
Student: I could never be a spy. I can’t do a roly-poly.
James Bond is famous for his forward rolls.
Compared to other RPGs I’ve played, The Witcher is a very intimate game. Even counting the segments of the city of Vizima as separate locations, the list of places I’ve seen so far is very small. The cast of the game is also quite lean. Both of these conditions are hardly negatives; it gives a feeling of familiarity and makes the interactions more personal. It also helps to enrich the story, in my opinion at least.
This intimate setup has impacted on my observations. Whilst with Skyrim I could skip about, cherry picking historic details, this games narrower landscape has led me to make a more specific consideration of the world.
In the third instalment of my ‘grown-up’ look at the historical accuracy of this fantasy adventure game, I’ve picked out one feature of the main character and two features of the city to analyse. The field of discussion is quite specific, though the History addressed is quite varied. Let’s start with a piece of History that has had one foot in fantasy for a long time.
Continue reading “How Historically Accurate is The Witcher Part 3?”
A month has past. I haven’t played a lot of any game lately; we are approaching exam season after all. Yet my designated gaming time has been mostly devoted to The Witcher. I’ve completed Chapter 1 and I’ve made (what I assume is) serious headway into Chapter 2. From a gamer’s perspective, I’m enjoying the quirky, if slightly clunky gameplay and intriguing story-telling. From an Historian’s perspective, I am quite enamoured – despite the fantastical overtones the game is letting its historic side shine.
Part 1 was more of an introduction than anything else. This time around, I’m still far from an overall view of the first Witcher game, but there are a few areas that I feel I know well enough to discuss. As with my ‘analysis’ of Skyrim, I will never assume that I am an absolute authority on The Witcher or History; that’s why I title these blogs with the question, “How historically accurate is…”.
Continue reading “How Historically Accurate is The Witcher? Part 2”
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.
Continue reading “How Historically Accurate is The Witcher?”
We’ve all observed stories that use the ‘x days later’ device. A linear narrative can avoid weeks, months and years of bunkum by jumping to the next interesting bit. It’s a trick which allows the storyteller to stick to the good bits, providing it is used effectively. It’s a trick we can all accept and appreciate.
Now imagine you were reading a book or watching a film where the inverse happened. Instead of moving time forward ‘x weeks’ into the future, the story instead took a detour which lasted for days or weeks, only to return to the main story as if no time had passed. In most cases, we would find that very odd and a little jarring (unless it’s a dream-sequence or a peculiar plot twist). Yet open world games let this happen all the time.
Videogames can be rigidly linear in gameplay and story, or completely non-linear in either area. In many games story can be absent entirely, but sometimes I feel that the combination of linear story-telling and non-linear gameplay feels unwieldy. We as gamers are meant to follow a pattern of close-knit events whilst simultaneously spending hours on exploration and random side missions.
Continue reading “Should open world games rethink how they tell stories?”