How Historically Accurate is The Witcher Part 3?

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.

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How Historically Accurate is The Witcher? Part 2

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…”.

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What’s Next on GamerPeak?

Now that I’m into my stride with the four week cycle for my blog, I thought I would share the titles for the next four posts.

I hope you like the sound of what’s to come:

  • Will Videogames improve when the machines take over?
  • Gaming Fantasy Dinner Party: Guest Number 3
  • Objective Survive: Chapter 2 – Hit Points
  • How Historically Accurate is the Witcher? Part 2

It should be a fun four weeks. Thank You Four Reading!

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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Should open world games rethink how they tell stories?

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.

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World War Two Snipers – Videogames vs History

History can be less exciting than the fiction it inspires. I can accept that with a smile. War movies, TV shows and games can bathe the World War Two era with so much action and violence that the reality is all but lost. That is not a bad thing, in any way. Not only is it pleasing to see what the historical context can be morphed in to, but allowing some distance between exciting fiction and grim reality is often appreciated. However, sometimes the reality is exciting enough without poetic license. Furthermore, the History of the World Wars still offers so much more inspiration yet to be tapped.

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