Historical accuracy? What does that term actually mean for video games?

The newly released first-person, open world RPG "Kingdom Come: Deliverance" has been criticized in some quarters (perhaps unfairly) for not including black people in the game. Vocal defenders have emphasized the game’s commitment to historical accuracy (after all, there would likely have been no black people in a small village in medieval Bohemia, where the game begins) and have frequently mocked the criticism as further evidence of the ridiculousness of the social justice warrior.

What does historical accuracy even mean when it comes to this RPG? Is it historically accurate to exclude black people yet to include the possibility of becoming a "bard" or a "knight"? The term "bard" wouldn’t apply to medieval Bohemia, either, and lowly blacksmiths of that time simply didn’t climb the social ladder; they pretty much lived and died in the same lower class that they were born into. Is it historically accurate to not have fantastical creatures to battle yet still to allow the player character to craft potions using a skill called "alchemy"? Those potions create short-term buffs that don’t look at all the different from the buffs created by magic potions in medieval fantasy RPGs such as The Witcher or Baldur’s Gate.

  • Though slightly tangential, this might shed some light on the matter: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AxV8gAGmbtk – ProtoCanon 6 years ago
  • The video is really good and very relevant to the discussion. Thanks for the link! – JamesBKelley 6 years ago
  • An interesting factor to consider is how 'historical realism' affects the look and feel of the game itself. In some games the inclusion of a small number of historically realistic elements conflicts with a fantastical game setting, and can have a negative effect on the player experience (dependent on their awareness of the relevant historical culture). A colleague of mine, Gareth Wild https://jamescook.academia.edu/GarethWild has commented on this regarding the 'Imperials' in Morrowind, who are the only faction clearly derived from a historical culture - ancient Rome - and in appearance are almost identical to Roman soldiers of the period. This interpolates the impression of a well known 'real' culture into a fantasy setting which does not include that history, which conflicts with the 'imaginary' history of the game environment... – Menadue 6 years ago
  • Menadue, the very same sort of thing occurs in Fallout: New Vegas, with Caesar's Legion. For some reasons, ancient Rome is commonly resurrected in our fantasy RPG games. That would make a great essay topic in itself: Ancient Rome and Modern Fantasy. – JamesBKelley 6 years ago

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