Here is an eight-minute video on the reconstruction of ancient Athens by game-maker Ubisoft for the latest episode (if that’s what it’s called) of Assassin’s Creed. Previous episodes have invited us into highly realistic reconstructions of Renaissance Venice and Florence and of London during the Industrial Revolution. (See my pair of October 2015 posts “Gaming the Renaissance” and “Into London’s age of grit.”) There have been eleven games in the series thus far since 2007. Such videos may perhaps be the 21st century versions of the historical novels upon which I was weaned. My takeaway on the phenomenon is from the first of my 2015 posts:
Millions of young people play these video games. The games’ allure relies at least in part on exciting scenery within which players confront enemies in situations programmed to reflect historical reality. Players see the beautiful historical architecture on display in 3D and may come, willy-nilly, to expect today’s reality to better reflect the beauty that they have “experienced,” and that classicists believe should inspire the built environment. This is popular culture, the masses putting their money where their mouth is and where their tastes are. Could it be that the beauty of architecture can also battle back into elite culture – and our cities and towns – as well?
[The image above is not from Assassin’s Creed Odyssey but a reconstruction of the Acropolis by Juan Alvarez de Lara at archaeological-reconstructions.com. Ubisoft has figured out a way to prevent the publication of screenshots from videos of their games or of videos about their games. The images I was planning to post are from the videos to which I have linked.]