Games can be our time machines

October 5, 2019
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During Eurogamer’s 20th birthday celebrations, we talked a lot about gaming memories – games in relation to our personal histories, and games that shaped how game developers think about their own medium. One thing is clear – games are very dear to us on a personal level, and we can chart the rapid evolution and growth of the industry by looking at them. What’s more interesting to me is whether at one point, looking back at games, we’ll be able to chart changes to society or even humans as a species, the same way we do with all other media, basically.

As more and more people grow up with games, this seems inevitable – art imitates life, and both personal stories and broader topics inspire games. There’s always a larger trend that shapes even our most personal stories. Take Path Out by Abdullah Karam and Bury Me, My Love by The Pixel Hunt. Both tell radically different stories set in motion by one event, the Syrian civil war. In a future where people hopefully don’t remember what it was like then, these games could be important time capsules that help educate, just like they helped educate me as someone who only had an outsider’s point of view on these events.

Humans are fascinated by their own history, and I think some games make a remarkable effort at depicting a world gone by. Assassin’s Creed obviously needs to be mentioned here, even more so now that Ubisoft has made an effort to teach you more about the history of the series’ locations via its virtual museum. I was also surprised how unflinchingly Mafia 3 and L.A. Noire reflected some widespread beliefs about how women and people of colour should be treated, and while some of this ideology has survived, such startling examples are a good way of showing how far we’ve come, how humans have bonded over time.

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