Tracking the Historical Authenticity of Egyptian Representation in Video Games -Digital Project

My digital project proposal is going to sound a lot like my print project proposal because it’s practically the same thing! I am really interested in the representation of Ancient Egypt and the Egyptian mythos in digital media (mainly video games) and how it affects the way people recognize and interact with the actual history surrounding Egypt. I might look to expand into popular movies (i.e. Prince of Egypt or The Mummy) if I need a subject matter that more people are familiar with, but for the moment I want to keep my focus strictly on gaming.

Ever since Howard Carter discovered Tut’s tomb in the 1920s, Egyptomania has been, at the very least, an undercurrent of popular culture. In modern mobile games where there are themed levels, often there is an Ancient Egypt themed level because it is easy to recognize the Nemes crown, a pyramid, and a mummy. But how does that affect the way people conceive Egyptian history? Games like Assassins Creed: Origins or Sphynx and the Cursed Mummy are both games that have touched a wide portion of the population be it in their youth (PS2) or more current (Xbox One/Ps4). Assassin’s Creed specifically spoke about how they utilized Egyptologists to help fill in the gaps where mainstream history was silent because the developers wanted to focus on making the game as historically accurate as possible. But that is something that is fairly modern for a video game.

Often big-name titles will utilize the familiarity of the Egyptian mythos and how recognizable the art and architecture are while avoiding the historical authenticity. They will make up the names of Pharaohs or will fall victim to the pitfalls of assuming mainstream media has the information correct (i.e. it is pretty normal to assume Rameses was the Pharoah of the Exodus, but research has shown that it could be one of four, yet the story is always portrayed as Rameses).

For my project, I plan to create a website using WordPress where I will discuss the background of some larger titles and their historical authenticity in regards to the actual evidence we have of Egypt at the time. I also plan to integrate a survey where I will reach out to players and gather information on how their personal schema of Egypt has been formed by the games that they play. For example, in League of Legends, there are characters based on the Egyptian gods. It will be interesting to see if players, with no background in Egyptian history, can even name the gods these characters are based on, let alone where they fit in the pantheon.

One Reply to “Tracking the Historical Authenticity of Egyptian Representation in Video Games -Digital Project”

  1. Hi Bailey,

    This is a great idea. Given how similar it runs to your print project, I don’t think I have too many more comments to add beyond what I posted on the print proposal. I think it could work well either way, that is you could make a site like this or write up a paper and both could be interesting resources.

    My one main thought on doing this as a digital project is that if you were interested, you could consider reaching out to Play the Past and seeing if they would be up for you writing these out as a series of guest posts for the site. Here is info on how to reach out to them about proposing guest posts (https://www.playthepast.org/?page_id=2 ). If you went that way, I think you could get the benefit of having what you write reach out to a broader audience that is already interested in this kind of research/writing.

    Best, Trevor

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.