Simulating the Ages of Man: Periodization in Civilization V and Europa Universalis IV
AbstractIn recent years historians have increasingly turned their attention to video games, encouraging a passionate debate about whether or not history can be produced through video games. Rather than directly intervene in this discussion, this article seeks to explore how historical arguments (whether they constitute “history” or not) are made through video games. Through an investigation of two popular historical strategy games, Civilization V and Europa Univeralis IV, this article demonstrates how a familiar historical concept, periodization (the division of time into distinct “ages”), is constructed through video game play. This investigation is valuable, not just in terms of understanding popular consumption of historical concepts, but in understanding the production of history more generally. As a relatively novel of medium for the production of history, video games heighten an awareness of the role of the medium in shaping history. This awareness can be folded back into a re-examination of the familiar and, after centuries of use, invisible determinative structures of textual history.
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