02.156DH Games of Histories

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History often serves as the dramatic backdrop for many popular computer games we play today. Yet such historical representations are often riddled with misrepresentations and inaccuracies. This course aims at enabling students to acquire the historical knowledge necessary to build a credible and coherent history based story for video‐games through the lenses of some significant periods in European history such as the history of the rise and fall of the Roman Empire until Charlemagne and notable historical figures including Julius Caesar, Constantine the Great, Attila and Theoderic. To do so, the course will focus on some already existing and very successful video‐games, namely the three versions of the Total War video‐game: “Rome: Total War” ﴾2004﴿, “Rome: Total War” ﴾2005﴿, “Attila: Total War” ﴾2015﴿. Through a better understanding of history, students will acquire a firmer grasp of the value of historical knowledge and its rich potential for storytelling and the creation of compelling virtual worlds and online experiences.

Learning Objectives

  1. Develop the ability to conceive and write engaging and historically likelynarrative. For any narrative to be historically likely, the writers must have goodgrasp of historical events and how they are established by historians as well as ofthe mentality of the certain age.
  2. Learn how history is constructed. The establishing of historical events is the fruitof a reflection of all the data that can be collected through several sources, bothmaterial and immaterial, which have come down to us from the past. Studentsmust understand the methodology that historians use to read and assess the information contained in these sources.
  3. Learn to critically assess how the video‐games builders have used historicalevents to develop their narrative. Students have to learn to recognise the anglefrom which a narrative based on historical events has been built and to criticise itin light of their acquired knowledge of history, both in terms of establishedhistorical events and of a deeper understanding of the mentality of each historicalperiod.
  4. Learn how to effectively work in team for the development of a project, which inthis case will be the writing of a historically based narrative.

Course Requirement

Assessment Percentage
WEC – Attendance/Class participation 20
WEC – Mid-terms 30
WEC – Finals 30
WEC – Group Presentations 20

Course Map

Week 1: Introduction

Week 2: “Rome: Total War” ﴾2004﴿: The rise of an Empire

Week 3: “Rome: Total war” ﴾2004﴿: From Republic to Empire; Scipio and Julius Caesar

Week 4: “Rome: Total war –– Barbaric Invasions” ﴾2005﴿: The crumbling of the Empire

Week 5: “Rome: Total War –– Barbaric Invasions” ﴾2005﴿

Week 6: Midterm Project Discussion

Week 8: Midterm Project

Week 9: “Attila: Total War” ﴾2014﴿: German or Roman: The tragic destiny of a man caught between two worlds

Week 10: “Attila: Total War” ﴾2014﴿: From Mongolia to the West

Week 11: “Attila: Total War” ﴾2014﴿: Allegiance to an old order and attempts at creating a new one

Week 12: “Attila: Total War” ﴾2014﴿: The dawn of a New Rome?

Week 13: Final Project Discussion

Week 14: Final project

Paolo Di Leo