Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Assassin's Creed and Enae Volare by Era: postmodern blurring of genre boundaries in "historical" video games

The use of space and reality in this example of "trailer-like" exchange are worth considering for identifying and evaluating the post modern player experience. Certainly the genre boundaries between cinema and videogames are being blurred in this game - and this is an increasing feature of films and videogames these days. With this piece of exchange uploaded on You Tube this also becomes a music video. Even the song-track by ERA is not real Latin but a pseudo mix of old Occitan (from where the Cathars used to live in sourthern France and Latin.) A pretty good mix for a hyperreal and immersive playing experience.  By the way, Era's song was the on the ending credits for "Les Visiteurs" in 1993 in which a postmodern medieval film in which knight and his servant gets transported into our age and how he deals with our modernity. The  ambiguous setting for Assassin's Creed appears to be in "The Holy Land" and in one of the Christian Kingdoms before "the fall of Jerusalem" in 1187 to Saladin and during the Crusades. Historical settings are often favoured in post modern texts as they involve copying, pastiching, parodying and remodelling the past.

On a macro level the blurring is across several media genres. On a micro level the blurring is in the contours of the city, its grey ambiguity, as an undefined place, and especially in the "hoody" character whose face and thus identity is never fully seen. The player mode can be sandbox and thus can form a narrative that pleases the player.

Check out Ben Medler's great-looking analysis on why "Assassin's Creed" is a post modern game. He compares this game to "Mirror's Edge," a game which he considers modernist. It is a must read!

Here is also an academic player's view of the game for space and increasingly diverse and complex player-skills.

What follows is a good all-round review of this relatively new game and how it appropriates history Very useful for understanding the postmodern plundering of history as historical fiction. Later versions of the game on the same theme have since been released. Tarentino's ambiguously spelled, "Inglourious Basterds" follows along similar lines.
"What’s interesting about the series is its successful use history as a game mechanic, and its ability to construct realistic environments around the largely fantastical story. The evocations of cities such as Jerusalem and Rome, while not always painstakingly accurate, have a sense of place and life that is almost unique in the video game sector."

Another academic and challenging article on the game by G. Christopher Williams in which he argues that that this game is "a meta fictive frame tale."

What is controversial about this game?
"In the Simulation, Nothing is True, and Everything is Permitted
While I had heard prior to its release that some game journalists were concerned that Assassin’s Creed could be controversial given that its protagonist is an Arab assassin, I was, nevertheless, both surprised and intrigued as the game loaded up that I was met with a rather unusual disclaimer for a video game: “This work of fiction was designed, developed, and produced by a multicultural team of various faiths and beliefs.”"
for more

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