Losers of history: the representations of conquered peoples in video games
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Video games continuously become more popular, and the number of historically themed games is ever-growing. Only relatively recently has more attention been granted to the topic from the history discipline. This thesis positions itself within this new and dynamic field, and focuses on the question of how cultures conquered by the Roman Empire are represented in video games, what sources are used for this representation, how this history is treated, and what function this representation fulfills within a video game? The two most often encountered cultures in games featuring Romans will be analyzed: barbarians and Carthaginians. The sources partly consist of multiple video games, Legionnaire, Annals of Rome, Ryse: Son of Rome, Old World, and Imperator: Rome, partly of primary literature by authors as Julius Caesar, Diodorus Siculus, Livy, Virgil, Polybius, and finally, some archaeological or epigraphic sources are used. The representations are analyzed partly by studying the game but also focusing on the game files that hold more information. Then, an analysis is made of what sources are used for the various representations of these cultures. To determine the function within a video game, the theory around heroes and villains by Scott Allison and George Goethals, and the theory around the hero's journey by Joseph Campbell and Christopher Vogler, are employed. The representation of barbarians is predominantly based upon Caesar's Bello Gallico and the text of Cassius Dio. The barbarians are portrayed as violent and cruel but also easy enemies that require very little redeeming qualities. Carthaginians, on the other hand, are most often based on the works of Polybius and Livy. They are portrayed as rich, having naval superiority, and honorable and powerful enemies. The ancient texts that portrayed the different groups proved powerful enough to withstand the test of time and influence the digital representation of these peoples millennia later.