A new series of Playing In The Past is launching today, where three academics will help guide you through Assassin’s Creed: Origins, explaining the real-life history of that time.
The first in a six-part series starts today at roughly 3PM GMT, and you can watch via the embed below or on Twitch.com.
The people behind the stream are Gemma Renshaw, an archaeology PhD student at Southampton University; Dr. Kate Sheppard, an associate professor of History and Political Science at Missouri University of Science and Technology; and Dr. Chris Naunton, a writer and broadcaster as well as an Egyptologist.
Over email, Gemma tells us how the idea came about: “I had been thinking about doing something like this for a while - or for finding a way to link academic research with representations of historic people and places in games.” After seeing Chris tweet about wanting to view Alexandria in Assassin’s Creed, Gemma says: “From our conversation on Twitter several people, other than Kate, commented that they would be interested also in watching the tour so when we met up initially we decided we would do it again but broadcast it. That went really well and we just thought wouldn't it be great if we could make more of these and have other experts take part, so we could get different voices talking about different subjects.”
Assassin’s Creed is well known for allowing players to explore its worlds and learn more about them with Discovery mode, but we wanted to know what sort of games like this could play in learning and research in the future. Dr. Sheppard tells us: “For us, using those settings to show the real history of a place, time, people, or practice, again helps to make it real for people. It's not just "oh, some time in the past these things happened." You can actually show viewers a temple procession.”
One of the benefits of the project is that it’s both a boon to gamers and non-gamers alike. As Dr. Naunton explains: “The project provides that opportunity for [a non-gaming] audience, and to add in some Egyptological/historical expertise - mine, Gemma’s and Kate’s - to the experience. I like to think that we can show the Egyptological community that video games can provide an incredibly realistic and immersive experience of a reconstructed past, which can be done with credibility and accuracy! And I guess we hope to provide some of the solid history and archaeology for gamers who are familiar with the game and environment but maybe not the real-world evidence that’s been used to create it.”
The Playing in the Past project is set for a six-episode run, with a planned episode each month, focusing on topics such as religion, ancient craft and technology, and the people of Ptolemaic Egypt, to name a few. Make sure to follow Gemma’s channel on Twitch to stay up-to-date with each broadcast as it goes live.
For more on Assassin’s Creed, why not check out our Assassin’s Creed Valhalla review?