Project Description

War collaborators: documentary and historical sources in First World War computer games

With the emergence of computer games focused on the First World War, representations of the conflict have begun to reach brand new audiences in ways it has been unable to before. The portrayal of the war in an interactive setting has exposed millions to new information about its origins and methods. To understand the reach and impact of these games it is necessary to also understand their backgrounds and historiography.

This article presents the first in-depth examination of the source material for two of the biggest First World War focused computer games in existence; Valiant Hearts: The Great War, and Battlefield 1. Through discussions with the developers behind these games and analysis of the sources which provided them with their information, it becomes possible not just to chart the provenance of their historical messages but also to understand how themes within academic history are being disseminated by the modern media.

However, it is also possible to see the extent to which understandings of the war and how it was waged are not being incorporated by games developers or their products. This article argues that more work and cooperation is needed between historians and developers if the narratives of these games is to be influenced by historical research in the same way that the visual authenticity has been.

Read Article