In the realm of strategy games, years can be played as minutes and Rise of Nations, which was originally released by Big Huge Games in 2003, provides a striking contrast between its broad historical scope and the surprisingly brief window of time that interrogates it.
The recent “Extended Edition” re-release of Rise of Nations on Steam provides a more accessible opportunity to re-examine discussions from past symposia through the lens of this beloved real-time strategy game:
- Does the distance of abstraction provided by Rise of Nations — and strategy games in general — provide an illuminating vantage point to observe or even participate in a practice of history through play?
- Is this practice of history strengthened or weakened by Rise of Nations’ capacity for multiple and iterative skirmishes? (Can we compare and contrast this against the more linear and expositive narrative of Assassin’s Creed?)
- Is the real-time strategy of Rise of Nations well-poised for meaningful contemplation of history “in motion” or is subversive play the game’s strongest suit?
One piece of supplemental material that may enrich our discussion is Troy Goodfellow’s National Character series on Flash of Steel, which examines how certain countries are mechanically portrayed throughout various strategy games, including Rise of Nations. Do these characterizations in Rise of Nations make for a more meaningful and consonant presentation of history?
We’ll meet to discuss these questions and more on Thursday, August 7th at 9:30pm EDT / 6:30pm PDT; voice chat over Skype.