von Eugen Pfister
The following essay is partly based on my presentation at the Clash of Realities conference November 2019 .: “Playing „History as it really was“ – The Myth of Historical Accuracy in video games and its ideological functions”.
History vs. Historical Studies
If you’re a historian working with/on video games it is inevitable, that at some point of your career you will be confronted with a question like this: “Is x in game y historically accurate?”
- Did they really use gunpowder as early as the first mongol invasion?
- What were the colours of the uniform of Napoléon’s Garde Imperiale in 1804?
- WTF are those balloons doing on the backs of my samurai?
The ongoing search for (imagined or factual) anachronisms can be quite entertaining, but the gain in knowledge for our historical studies and our society is rather limited.  Trouble is, we touch a sore point of our self-conception as historians. The impulse to understand historians as reviewers of a “correct” representation of history contradicts our self-image as scholars.