4 Historical Eras That Need Video Games
With Assassin’s Creed 3 on everyone’s mind, the whole gaming world is now talking obsessively about the setting – the roughly 30 year period spanning the beginning of the 7 years war to the conclusion of the American Revolution. Suddenly, everyone is an expert on British taxation, common law and the fact that George Washington was kind of like the Forrest Gump of the Colonies, magically somehow involved in nearly every important event of his time.
Lost in the hubbub is the fact that this is actually that rare moment in gaming, the employment of a somewhat unique setting. Yes, the frame is still 20 minutes in the (cyberpunk) future, but yet again, the Assassin’s Creed series is managing to diverge from either Ancient Rome, Feudal Japan or World War II. We approve, but it has us thinking: what other historical eras have been sadly neglected by the video game industry? So we dug deep, deep into ye ancient archives to find them.
Here are 4 historical eras that need video games of their own.
4: The Kurukshetra War
Where: Northern India
When: ~800s B.C.E. but possibly 300 years earlier.
The Kurukshetra War is to India what the Trojan War is to Western Civilization: basically, the foundation from which a vast amount of LITERALLY EVERYTHING ELSE FLOWS. Culturally speaking, I mean. And just like the Trojan War gave us the Trojan War Poetic Cycle, the Kurukshetra War gave us India’s national epic, Mahabharata (itself, like Homer’s poems were for Troy, one of the few sources for the existence of The Kurukshetra War).
So what happened? A lot, and it’s really convoluted. Basically, two factions of a single family, seriously bitter due to several decades of back and forth backstabbing, finally had it out when the dynastic succession to the Kingdom of Kuru was up for grabs. One faction, led by Prince Arjuna, eventually ends up winning, with Arjuna establishing a long lived dynasty that goes on to conquer (peacefully, supposedly) a huge portion of Northern India. In between, there’s a lot of crazy family gossip (like how Arjuna and his brothers all marry the same woman, willingly!), some tremendous carnage, awesome iron-age bond gadgets, and a cool Star Wars ending in which Arjuna and his brothers decide to end their long, fantastic careers by renouncing the world, and climbing the Himalayas, where they ascend to the heavens as gods.
Why It Needs Video Games:
YEAHYEAHYEAH, an awesome war with a cool star wars ending. But that’s not why you’ve heard of it. You’ve heard of it because Arjuna’s charioteer and personal assistant is Krishna. Yes, that Krishna, one of the big goods of Hinduism and an Avatar of the God Vishnu. Krishna’s time on Earth has him displaying lots and lots of super powers, like being an excellent flutist and being able to make dozens of copies of himself so he can hook it up with some lovely farm girls. But his biggest claim to fame is his role as Arjuna’s valet. In Mahabharata, he’s constantly trying to arrange for a peaceful outcome and meanwhile giving good sense moral advice. Once the war is unavoidable, however, he’s just as decisive for that as well. See, faced with killing members of his family, Arjuna wavers. So Krishna gives him a little pep talk about duty, self sacrifice, just war, and (paraphrasing) keeping the big picture in mind. It lasts for hundreds of pages and ends with Krishna basically revealing the insane scale of the universe to Arjuna.
That little pep talk is called the Bhagavad Gita. Yes, the Bhagavad Gita, and it’s sandwiched into an already exhaustively long epic. Or to put this another way, what if the Bible was sandwiched into the Illiad and Odyssey? That’s how big of a deal it is.
And the game?
Obviously, a Total War style strategy game is a must. Players could take one of the many factions in the war and pit them against one another. To even things out, while Arjuna’s faction still gets Krishna, the other factions could get visitations from the Hindu pantheon of their own to even things out. And the chance to see your forces battling against the staggeringly beautiful terrain of north India is too good to pass up.
But for my money, the perfect game for the setting has a better precedent: the Dante’s Inferno video game. No, I didn’t much care for that weird take on Dante’s epic about the Catholic afterlife, but I approve of the idea. “Mahabharata: the game” would be awesome. Players could take on the role of Arjuna, fighting through bloody battlefields, working out the fact you and your brothers are married to the same woman, and using super powers courtesy of Krishna. Done right, it’d make a great trilogy that could take full advantage of India’s rich mythological tradition. And let’s be honest: Elephants; Gods; massive carnage. WIN.