Print Project Proposal

Look Away, Video Land: Is historical accuracy more important than playing another action Game?

The American Civil War is the one topic than never goes away. Several books and articles are published each year detailing and reassessing pivotal battles, biographies, and recent discoveries.[1] From Douglas Southhall Freeman’s Lee’s Lieutenants to James and Walter Kennedy’s controversial The South was Right! the historiography is static yet ever changing. As contemporary audiences study and learn about the Civil War, it is important to consider this generation’s familiarity with, and exposure to technology. Many individuals have become techno-savvy, owners of IPods, laptop computers, and possess a comfort level with the Digital.[2]

While historians debate how to reach this new audience, we should note that video game creators moved beyond these considerations years ago. Real time action is often portrayed from the “shooter’s perspective,” although more sophisticated play takes into account various camera angles, overhead perspectives, maps, and the ability to give battle from the Confederate or Federal point of view. Historically accurate conflicts, troop movements, and terrain add to the realism. We can argue that video games based on fact have become an extension of learning. In this way, some gamers get their first exposure to history while others work on their problem solving skills – with adventure and shooting thrown into the mix.

In less than 2 months, we will remember and contemplate what occurred 150 years ago.  The start of this bloody conflict, and the ensuing four years, left more than 620,000 dead, thousands wounded, produced countless numbers of widows, and orphans, and changed a nation.  In creating this proposal, I would draw on recent postings from Wikipedia and Gamespot, reviews from game manufacturers, as well as sites pertaining to Civil War culture and the study’s historiography. Are players learning about the Civil War as they interact with the games? Are they already versed with the topic and play because of that fact?  Is historical accuracy more important than the ability to blow things up; is that period in history secondary to another shooter game? Understanding these points will show the enormous impact that the war had, and continues to have on our culture.











[1] David G. Smith, “Clear the Valley: The Shenandoah Valley and the Genesis of the Gettysburg Campaign,” Journal of Military History 74 # 4 (October 2010). Smith argues that Robert E. Lee needed to clear the Valley of occupying Union forces and he hoped to accomplish this by attacking the North.

[2] “Parents Beware: Your Toddlers are Tech Savvy,” Tech.Blorge, accessed 6 February2008:

4 Replies to “Print Project Proposal”

  1. Sounds like a great project! Personally, I'm fine with video game companies taking liberties with history to create an entertaining and engrossing game. After all, their job is entertainment, not education.

  2. I hope the project went well…I completely agree with the Civil War's relevancy. I believe we talked a little about this is person, but for any other commentators, I would throw out there the question of why the Civil War and arguably World War Two (and more recently, America's War on Terror) receive all of this coverage in games as opposed to other American wars like the American Revolution

  3. Great point about the Revolutionary War. Creators can come up with accurate scenarios but I wonder if the total game process is flawed. Fighting Germans or Japanese is based on freeing the world for democracy. That takes a back seat to Englishmen fighting other Englishmen.

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