I’m a giant history nut, specifically American history, so inspired by the choice game the Eagle’s heir. What would be some alternate history games you’d enjoy playing, personally I would love to play a game where you play the U.S president during the war of 1812 and make choices like making William Henry Harrison the commander of US forces. I’d also be interested in one in which you were president in the Civil war and you’d have to balance dealing with Slavery and appeasing the border states to ensure they don’t secede from the union. What are some historical games you’d be interested in?
With historical games like that there’s an amount of cultural sensitivity and openness of political and moral positions that would need to be present, unless the audience is meant to be of a specific nature. The various positions that were available during that historical event, along with the circumstances that precipitate/necessitate them, should be reasonably developed, as it’s all very well to claim moral ascendancy over those positions now in our current political atmosphere. Present-day sentiment towards the event/s should also be considered.
For example, using a war of 1812 game like the one you’ve described, as a Canadian I wouldn’t be able to bring myself to play as the US president, and therefore prioritise American interests or face strong political backlash if I didn’t. This isn’t an issue of national pride, since Canada as a country was not exactly there, but in the years since much value has been ascribed to the region that was contested, and I wouldn’t be able to play a game where one of the goals is to capture places such as Montreal, with my current understanding of its cultural significance. But again, if the game is purposely designed to be outrightly favourable to one party, then those who don’t like it can just not play.
As for historical games I’d be interested in, I find the ones that cover a large amount of time - and therefore allow for exploration and analysis of the effects of certain decisions independently and in relation to external factors, such as In the Court of the Red Bearded King - the most satisfying. If we’re thinking US specifically, I’d say a game involving the 19th century American-Indian wars that also covers the social implications of our choices for the Native Americans later on.
Colonialism and suppression of the native groups in general is a fascinating topic and I think choice games provides a suitable medium for stories exploring it. A friend and I are currently planning one that hopefully takes into account the effects of colonisation on both the colonised and the colonisers, as well as the impacts of other, not immediately relevant situations.
In addition to that, a lot of historical stories seem to be centered around major European countries or the US. There’s room for others. A story about the Bosnian war or the 20th century Balkans in general would interest me. A story set in Central/South America, Asia, the Middle East or Africa would also be interesting, but in a way that is focused mostly on that country. Maybe something focusing on Che Guevara, but dealing more with what he does and the impact on the residents rather than his relationship with the US? Or, say, colonial exploitation of African countries and the role foreigners had in changing the relationships between African tribes. The effects of religious conflict and proxy wars on the day-to-day life of the residents of the Middle East.
In short, just anything that is well-rounded and deals with the implications of decisions on politics, society, and national identity. Choice games would be very suitable for this as it allows for the what-ifs that we all wonder about in history class.
I’d love to see more games like Divided We Fall (fantastic Hosted Game, check it out if you haven’t already) which explore a historical conflict through characters on both sides.
Try to sack and defend Montreal… see what the consequences are of either side winning.
I’m not so sure about the idea of alternative histories. It’s tough enough to do for historical fiction writers and takes a ton of research. But in a format like this the temptations towards real wish fulfillment are just too numerous. And we have enough falsification going on is so many other sectors these days that adding to it just strikes me as irresponsible.
On the other hand I could see a history game being done with a scrupulous attention to historical detail. So that the events happen as they do but how will you react within them is the issue. Knowing for instance that most people in Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union went along their systems then presents the possibilities of presenting real moral choice. Do you hide a half Jewish friend if it means being rounded up yourself? To you spy on your neighbor as asked by the authorities or be sent off to the Gulag? Now that could make some dynamic Interactive Fiction.
I’d definitely be interested in more historical games, especially if they’re well-researched.
There are plenty of larger-than-life historical figures, such as Caterina Sforza or Pyrrhus of Epirus, who’d make great protagonists. Similarly, a “Robin Hood” style game set in the aftermath of the Battle of Hastings would have a lot of dramatic potential - with the player perhaps facing similar dilemmas as Hereward the Wake or Eadric the Wild in deciding whether to assimilate or resist.
Divided We Fall was excellent (and I thoroughly recommend it), although the author’s mentioned that it didn’t sell enormously well. So perhaps dialling up the fictional elements of historical fiction might help a story to reach a broader audience?
A story set in the modern period would probably come across best if the presentation of characters and events was reasonably even-handed. Introducing multiple point-of-view characters could certainly be a good way to achieve this. For example, as an Englishman, I’d have very little interest in leading the American invasion in the War of 1812… but markedly more interest in leading the British forces and giving those treacherous colonials the thrashing they so richly deserved.
More seriously, an author setting a story in the 19th century would be well-advised to consider how they’re going to approach thorny issues such as race relations. Sugarcoating those issues is going to alienate some readers, whereas others won’t enjoy a warts-and-all portrayal.
Edit: For example, if someone were to write a game centred around the American revolution, introducing someone like Colonel Tye as a point-of-view character would provide an interesting and under-explored perspective. Tye was an African-American former slave, who led a band of guerillas fighting for the British against their old masters.
As people know I’ve been toying with some WW2 game ideas, and also I had an idea about doing a series of games set around an AU 20th Century. Alternate histories are fascinating to me - worlds where the Roman Empire never fell, where Harold won the Battle of Hastings and so utterly changed the course of the Anglo-Saxons and English History. where the American Revolution was avoided by peaceful resolution and so forth.
What was burning the white house down not enough for you?
That wasn’t even a southern state that was New Jersey my home state and I’ll bit of a history nerd and I still don’t know about this.
If I was going to the war of 1812 give you the choice of the sudden as well Jackson in the creek war and the defending New Orleans. For anyone that studies history that were 1812 is huge with most Americans that have no idea what it is and it’s a big deal Canada if I am not mistaken. Nobody talks about the Battle of crown high. The White House burn and I guess parliament building too in Canada.
Personally one of the most interesting periods of American history for me was the the founding of the american government and the early presidencies that followed.
This would have the game beginning sometime in 1783 and continuing for around three decades (haven’t taken history for a decade). It would have to include a background placing you as the representative, perhaps one of many, of a specific state.
At first you would work to influence the formation of the united state government, potentially altering important documents such as the Constitution and Bill of Rights.
Next we would enter the earliest presidencies. The options i can currently think of are, become president, join the President’s cabinet, become a diplomatic representative in a foreign country, become a high rank military officer, or become Governor of your home state.
Opinions so far?
Well Washington with always going to be the first President I mean the office is practically designed for him everyone knew that everyone and their mother knew that. My personal opinion is you can create a background for your character what was their economic social class they rise and station for the course of the conflict what did he do during the war did they fight where they in the delegation where they one of Representatives and that European nations were they trying to keep their head down where they are loyalists with a patriot were they actively involved in the conflict at all? Because it’s what the Early Republic which makes up things called the revolutionary era then you have the Jeffersonian era followed by the Era of Good Feeling any of the Jacksonian age. I don’t know if the Era of Good Feeling or the The Age of Jackson would be a good period to stop?
I can’t really tell you myself. It’s been years since I opened a history book and I mainly just wanted to get the idea of influencing the formation of the united States government out as a wip idea. I don’t have the base knowledge or sufficient enthusiasm to write this over my other ideas.
Creating a story about deciding to abolish or keep slavery is pretty controversial in nature. Rather then doing something like that. Why not try to create a story about a slave during this time period? Of course it is your idea and I don’t want to dissuade you. So keep it in mind and I will be on the look out for a story from you.
I mean that’s the thing Brother with the whole Slavery question is that the founding fathers were aware it was wrong but a lot like the Haitian see not see the means currently able outside of the plantation economy. Some of them thought they could slowly wean themselves off economically through the generations would be abolished by the early 1800s. Some smaller planters freed the slaves or Washington trying except example of when he died he put in his will for the free his slaves. Which not many people follow suit and the cotton gin was invented reinforcing the slave economy and the slave society. That’s what you get paradoxus like Andrew Jackson who is so committed to the idea American liberty but was intrench and the southern slave society from his youth. And this is another dimension it’s very cruel and screwed up but if you grew up in the south particularly the idea of being successful in the American dream with owning land and a couple slaves it was equivalency of having the picket fence house of your own in car by the 1950s standards. Also helps give you the idea for when the Civil War happen why so many men fought for it when the system itself provided no economic advantage. Because they were intrench with an incredibly perverted idea of liberty. Well that’s the thing though every democracy and republican government was one way or another slave society a lease in the Western world. It wasn’t until the 18th century where this contradiction start to become more uncomfortable. Also never underestimate how intensely racist America was for any part of the world for that matter. But the US anytime during the 17th and 18th century racist the ways you can’t imagine. I did not know how intense it was until I was looking at documents for my US history classes of and one on the civil war.
This is the gentleman I guided him during his first expedition.
You’re completely right. Realistically speaking, it would have been very difficult for the British to have achieved much more than they did in the War of 1812.
That said, in an interactive fiction game, it might be interesting to allow the player to push things a little further. For example, by forcing the USA to respect the territorial integrity of the Native Americans in the Great Lakes region, and capturing New Orleans. Either of those things could have had major consequences in stemming the USA’s westward expansion.
You know I am curious what would happen if Jackson was able get the command of the northern theater during the war of 1812. No mind you he was the best commander of the American side during War really that’s a really low bar. William Hull they send up to Detroit had a mental break down. Jackson was good anything he could keep an army together when they’re under supplied not being paid and contracts about to be up.
That would be interesting, give command to Jackson or WHH, personally I would say WHH
I am quite intrested of the idea to be one of the first president of the USA, Lots of potential there.