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The Delusion reinforced by Strategy Games

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Very interesting! I personally think that several strategy games have actually promoted civilizations and cultures that the player otherwise wouldn't of known or bothered about.

For example one might of become familiar with the Aztecs with Age of Empires 2 and thus gained an appreciation and respect for the culture and nation.

In the same way, while games like Age of Empires 3 focused on colonisation, I believe it also brought more attention to all the cultures presented, both native and foreign.

0 ad is also promoting and teaching about civilizations that people would not of know about. 

So on the contrary I don't personally think it is making one culture look superior than another.

Edited by Rolf Dew

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The author seems to be critiquing Hegelianism, or Hegel's Philosophy of History, but doesn't mention him in the article, choosing to talk about Darwin and Spencer's Social Darwinism instead. Those are of course relevant as well but most of these games follow some sort of Hegelian principle more than anything (stages of history)... 

19th and 20th century history narratives, both explicit and implicit are still ingrained in our education systems, media, popular culture and the very psyche of society itself, even today in the 21st century. These often erroneous narratives, which are often the result of systematic omissions of certain histories, and idealization of certain other histories, need to be actively addressed, even today, but the social studies crowd are making a hot mess out of it, trying to replace one simplistic narrative with another. Even some historians seem painfully ill equipped to address some of the longstanding biases in their respective fields. And others play this weird game, where instead of addressing the erroneous biases, they try to come up with "explanations" for why things are "the way they are", often based on a lack of knowledge on the subject matter at hand. Germs and Steel is perfect example of this. Rather than addressing the holes we collectively have in our historical understanding of the world, the author of that book tries to confirm our biases, but just provides different "explanations". The author of that vice article does something similar. He doesn't challenge our understanding of historical events, but tries to change the way we perceive them. He argues that we should abandon the idea that one civilization could be victorious over another, that history has no true victors, and that history is not about "competition between nations and/or races". I don't even know what to make of that conclusion, other than that it's poorly thought through, and not in the slightest based on the actual study of history, but rather some kind of misplaced socio-political statement.

I wouldn't want to play his idea of a fun game. 

Spoiler

 

 

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Today the movement is Frankfurt School and their critical theory. Many articles of vice following the mainstream media trying to be radical with social movements that give more power to the socio  liberals.

Sorry for the off topic but this kind media isn't compared with YT or social media. If a mass media have an owner , they protect his / her interest.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Critical_theory

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One thing I need to agree on with the author though is his criticism of a uniform tech tree... Focusing on the specifics of each culture or civilization to derive specific and unique tech trees from that, is in my opinion a juicier way of visualizing different paths of progress for each civ. Some can be similar to each other, others can diverge wildly. Balance is always the main concern here, I guess, although just giving each tech a civ specific name would already add a more nuanced veneer to the tech tree. 

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I don't really follow your critique of Guns, Germs, and Steel, Sundiata.  Simply speaking, the book explains the decisiveness of particular technological advancements that allowed for europeans to defeat significantly larger forces in battle and effectively subjugate empires that were sophisticated on their own right and then explains a lot of the factors required to develop such advancements.  The topic is straightforward, and the author doesn't diverge.  There were impressive advancements to be found in the Americas that are worth study, but those were largely unrelated to the thesis and were not addressed.  How is this a problem concerning historiography is baffling to me. 

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I know Vice has a bad reputation but this article is far from being horrible.

Video games, especially strategic games, have huge effect on how the average person thinks about other civilizations distant in time and space. A lot of persons discovered the Hellenistic kingdoms and dynasties thanks to video game like the Total War series. So it is quite an important matter for history nerds to understand and to question these things.

The article rises interesting questions about the common (mis)conception of progress as linearly growing to more and more civilization. The problem is the same with human evolution and the common view of The March of Progress which has affected how we view prehistoric men. Actually, most of the games with a linear progress has represented Medieval times as far superior than Ancient ones, like Empire Earth and Civilization, which is actually something bothering on some aspects. It is true that the Medieval times are not the dark age often depicted, true that some areas have progressed, but overall Medieval times suggest smaller armies with less training in average and poorer logistics. Which in strategic games should be an important factor but interestingly it is not the case. That's only an example but it illustrates how video games struggles with exception in the framework.

However the article make a fallacious argument saying the goal of these kinds of games (like Civ) is to remove diversity. Actually this is simply due to what happened in history. These kinds of game are kinda deterministic and have literally zero imagination to develop any kind of civilizational anachronism. You can become the world ruling Aztec Empire from the early game but somehow you will still end with a Western legacy of civilization in the modern period. But I think it is quite a difficult task, rebutting most of the developers to make a game permitting true anachronisms.

Another good point of the article is the common view of primitive and simplicity increasing together the more we look in the past. Simply to enable a bit of introspection and retrospection, I will ask a question about something we talked a few weeks ago about civilization with population bonus in 0 AD. Where did the idea come from that the Celts should have a population bonus? This is an interesting question because it puts the finger on different things we have inherited from the ancients about "barbarians". The same for the idea to put a tavern as representative of a civilization. This is not a critic and I put the guilt of all this in the failure of the academic system to share knowledge outside its own sphere and of the media to have almost zero interest to promote knowledge.

12 hours ago, Sundiata said:

The author seems to be critiquing Hegelianism, or Hegel's Philosophy of History, but doesn't mention him in the article, choosing to talk about Darwin and Spencer's Social Darwinism instead. Those are of course relevant as well but most of these games follow some sort of Hegelian principle more than anything (stages of history)... 

Actually the author doesn't seem to criticize the principle of subdividing history since he choose the example of humankind as something better. And Hegel's philosophy is quite more subtle because he focuses on the march of freedom as the main factor of progress, which is attacked in the article. The author should have mentioned Hegel indeed. But the subdivision and the view of history as a succession of stages are not something Hegel invented. Hesiod, Rousseau, Dugal Stewart viewed the history of mankind with the same idea before Hegel. 

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