Book Review: Classical Antiquity in Video Games by C. Rollinger
So this time I read a volume about Classical Antiquity in Video Games, edited by Christian Rollinger with 15 individual chapters concerned with depicting the past in video games. Rollinger’s volume is packed with interesting chapters about various topics in digital gaming. Although the Classical Antiquity is not my main focus of interest, I was very much intrigued by the chapters.
The book is structured in four main categories: Re-Figurations of Ancient Cultures, Martial Re-Presentations of the Ancient World, Role-Playing in the Ancient World, and Re-Imagining Antiquity. All games discussed belong to Roman or Greek antiquity. They discuss a wide range of theories, like depiction, teaching, colonialism, or counterfactuality to name just a few.
Classical Antiquity in Video Games
As I can’t discuss every chapter of this volume, I pick just a few. Jeremiah McCall for example writes about using battle simulations as models for Roman warfare. In his examples he uses the games Field of Glory 2 and Total War: Rome II to showcase various models that can be tested and visualised with these games. Ross Clare explains in his chapter how we (re-)play colonialism today and showcases this with the games Titan Quest and Nethergate. This topic interested me the most, as I did something similar in PhD.
Erica Holter, Una Schäfer and Sebastian Schwesinger finally showcase their Virtual Reality application. In it, the user can take part in a public hearing of a speaker in ancient Athenian Greece. While standing within a crowd, the user can specify certain aspects of the speech. The user can change the intensity of the speaker or the aggressiveness of the crowd. Various options lead to different results and showcase how game engines can not only create games, but help to do actual archaeological research.
Although the content of this book did not cover my main interest in archaeology, the chapters covered a wide variety of Archaeogaming subjects that were quiet interesting. It was nice to read from a different perspective on the same problems. The volume is framed by a pro- and epilogue and is well edited. I think it is worthwhile to anybody interested in Archaeogaming and especially with a classical background.
Christian Rollinger is a Senior Lecturer in Ancient History at the University of Trier.