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5 Historical Settings Rarely Seen in Video Games

Christian Malkowski
United States
New York
New York
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The social, political, and economic effects of the Cold War have had a monumental impact on not just Europe and the United States, but the entire world. The conflict between the two superpowers has been creatively depicted in hundreds of movies, television shows, and books across multiple genres, particularly spy thrillers. So why is the setting so underrepresented in video games?

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Grand strategy games, such Supreme Ruler: Cold War and mods for the Hearts of Iron series, have depicted the conflict at the macro level. Call of Duty: Black Ops experimented with the setting with a more personal approach and then abandoned it. But these have only scratched the surface and there still remains a lot of untapped potential.


How about a detective game in the vein of LA Noire set in 1980s America? Or how about a stealth game like the Splinter Cell series that included various locations across the globe during the 1960s? Like I said, untapped potential.


The Russian Civil War

One of the causes of the Cold War was the Russian Revolution and the resulting civil war, offering another rich setting for video games to sink their teeth into. It was a conflict that was bitterly fought and even saw the intervention of foreign countries, including the United States, supporting the Whites both militarily and financially. There is plenty of room here for personal stories to be experienced in a variety of genres.

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One example could be a first-person shooter set in one of the many battlegrounds of the civil war between the Whites and Reds. Another idea could be a squad-based game similar to the Brothers in Arms series also set across multiple battlefields.

An ambitious game might even try to explore the experiences and hardships of the average soldier fighting on both sides of the war. The war stories feature present in Battlefield 1 could be the way to showcase this idea.

The 17th Century

Historical strategy games tend to focus on the same string of familiar settings. The ancient world, the Middle Ages, the 18th century, the 20th century, etc. have all been repeatedly represented in video games. The 17th century is often glossed over in this regard and thus offers some potential.

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I'm very surprised that the Total War series hasn't given this time period some attention. The 1600s are tailor-made for the grand-strategy and RTS genres. Games focusing on the Thirty Years War alone could be made with enough content to satisfy even the most avid history buff.

This was an age when European countries became more centralized and armies moved toward professionalization. Kings became absolute monarchs at the same that time republics were being declared against them. It's a setting that's just as rich in intrigue and diplomacy as Crusader Kings II. No doubt it's a period of history that should get more love from game developers.


1970s America

The 70s was a controversial decade in the United States, but one with plenty of story potential for video games. The 1970s are often quoted as a time of moral decay, so why not develop some more crime dramas set in this era? Story-rich, singleplayer experiences that explore the nature of crime and violence in locations such as New York City or Las Vegas would find a welcome home in this setting.

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The next main entry in the Mafia series would be perfect for this type of storytelling. The mob was at the height of its powers in this decade so it would make sense for 2K to give this time period some attention. Besides, settings like the 1920s have already been done to death in gangster-themed video games. It's time for a breath of fresh air for the genre.

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The First Gulf War

Distant conflicts, such as the American Revolution, Napoleonic Wars, World War I, and World War II are naturally well-represented in video games. However, I would like to see more modern history come into the fold. The First Gulf War is already nearly thirty years old and yet doesn't have much to say for it in terms of video games. The only treatment it's received was in the form of Conflict: Desert Storm and its sequel Back to Baghdad. Those games are already approaching the twenty-year-old mark themselves.

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True, the Gulf War only lasted about six months, but there is still plenty there to make a game. The two titles I previously mentioned pulled it off quite nicely and there is no reason why a new game depicting the same conflict using modern hardware couldn't be made. At the very least, giving Conflict: Desert Storm the remastered treatment would reignite some interest in the setting and possibly lead to more titles in the future.

I am a former student of New York University and a professional paper writer who likes to play games, read and write gaming blogs. Yeah, kinda nerd. If you need any advice on how to write a cool story, hit me up and I`ll be glad to help you
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Mon Jul 27, 2020 3:59 pm
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