If A Video Game Distorts History, Does It Matter?
My sons have been trying to convince me that Assassin's Creed, despite it's violent name, is actually a video game worth having because it has a historical perspective.
Their quick historical tour of the game had some non-sensical discussion of Templars, re-living your ancestor's experiences, secret assassin units and vengeance. Then we agreed that a video game in general was not a good basis for a history lesson.
Too bad The Globe and Mail didn't get the memo. In an editorial on Thursday, the Globe bemoans the historical perspective of the new video game saying:
Assassin’s Creed III is set in 1765, and promotional material describes how, as “a Native American assassin, (you) eliminate your enemies with guns, bows, tomahawks, and more!” To suggest indigenous peoples rallied to the side of the colonists in their fight for freedom grotesquely twists the facts.
The online response the "old grey lady's" editorial was swift, and for the most part hilarious. Many tweets came up pointing out the ludicrous notion that video games teach us anything about the world around us. The Globe and Mail compiled some of them:
But in the absence of prior knowledge about the 1812 war, or the complex politics to do with First Nation alliances, the French, the English and the Americans - an eager tween could easily come to the conclusion that the Natives were on the side of the Americans.
But my kids at one time or another also believed that cartoons were real, stuffed animals party on your bed, and that the Tooth Fairy visits at night.
But I do think that if Natives have an issue with the storyline then we should pay attention. I wouldn't want my history to be twisted to suit a video game storyline. (I also think that if the Hispanic community has an issue with Disney's Princess Sofia, then we should listen -- but most of you disagree with me.)
Other than that, I think that kids understand that video games are a fantasy, where Templars fight against redcoats, mushrooms make you shrink and alien space invaders line up neatly on the screen.
Do you think there is an onus on video games (or other works of fiction) to be historically correct? Are you offended by the twisting of Canadian history?
Want more chaos? Last year, remember when Seth Meyers made fun of a Toronto school for banning "hard" balls?