Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Revisionist History

Here's something interesting I've found, though I can't remember from where. Called "Revisionist History", it claims to be a game designed specifically for the PBP and PBEM formats. Here's the blurb:

This game aims for a multi level narrative. You play a scholar studying the lives of people in the past. In the course of the game you simultaneously create the story you are researching as well as the story of your scholar. The game is created and presented as a narrative of a group of scholars who are piecing together the story of some event from various sources and who have their own agendas to fulfill with the story that is told.

Sounds complicated? I know. But it's simpler than it seems. Have a read and judge for yourself; I don't want to paraphrase here and direct attention away from the author's site, because aside from anything else the game deserves attention. What interests me about it is that it's an honest attempt to do something with PBP/PBEM that only it can do. As a player of online games, I'm very familiar with the frustrations of trying to carry out traditional gaming with the format. It is possible, but it can be tough going. This provides a model not only for a system that works well with the format, but which goes to the next level and makes it actually gameable in and of itself. I like that and appreciate the effort put into doing it.


  1. That is an interesting system (not sure that I got everything from a first read about points and things that arise from relationships, but am sure that that is not the main point anyway), and one that could be quite a rich and rewarding game.

    Any particular themes/events that you would want to tackle? What basic starting point jumps out at you?

  2. I would be of a mind to go down an alternate history route. Scholars in an alternate 21st century investigating, for example, why the Nazis won the Second World War, why Carthage defeated Rome in the Punic Wars, why slavery persists in the USA, why the Incas were never conquered by the Spanish, etc. etc.

    Or perhaps a group of scholars looking back at somebody in history and speculating he was something supernatural or alien.

  3. Interesting.

    Seems like you could do a structurally similar thing with competing gods instead of competing historians and it would still be a "best as play-by-post" thing.

  4. haha, it's an excellent idea but as an Australian I'm a little sick of this game. We've been doing it on the front pages of the newspapers for 15 years, and the winner was only declared last year. It takes a long time and a lot of people were destroyed by the game.

    I can't recommend it to anyone...

  5. Zak: You'd have to change the mechanics a bit, but I see no reason for it not to work, and be fun.

    faustusnotes: It's also a game they like to play in Japan. I hear Junichiro Koizumi was a fan.

    To be fair, Revisionist History can mean anything from "India in the 18th century wasn't actually in decline" to "Actually the Holocaust didn't happen"; it's not always all about bloody Australia you know!! ;)