25 July 2009

Historical Gaming

You know, I have all these historical setting books for GURPS: Middle Ages, Aztecs, Ice Age, Celtic Myth... and as much as I really enjoy history, I can't for the life of me think of what to do with these settings. Perhaps part of the problem is that what interests me about history is the way that people used to live.

There's a museum near my home that has a gallery that is a series of exhibits showing how people cleaned in years prior. There's a section dedicated to laundry, another for vacuuming, sweeping, and mopping, and a section on toilets. This gallery is the most interesting part of the museum to me; seeing how people lived in the past is amazing. The day-to-day basics of things-you-take-for-granted activities, like food and accommodations, are what fascinate me. I've been working over this past month with another museum in town doing demonstrations of how the Romans cooked, and the sorts of food they would have eaten, from the poorest to the richest. There's also a replica Viking village not too far from here that allows people to rent the site for overnight excursions; twice now, I've been able to go out and be a Norseman for a night, and sleep in a Viking house.
This is what interests me about history. I'm not so concerned with the kings, or the battles, or the laws and proclamations. It's the little things that we don't even really think about as being significant, but are a vast part of how the world changes over the years. We don't even think about how lucky we are to have washing machines...

But how does that apply to gaming? People don't game to indulge in the daily drudgery of menial labour. They want to escape from life, not live deeper in it!

One option is to make a more fantastic game from it, where the gods are real and have just as much influence on the world as the people, who can use magic and find enchanted items. But that spoils the appeal for me. The other option would be to play in a more realistic setting, but what would I do? What sort of stories would I tell? I fear that most players who'd be willing to join a historical game would be most interested in playing soldiers on a military campaign, or something along those lines.

I don't know. That's what I tend to think about whenever I read any of my gaming books. But for now, have fun playing games, and remember to

Game on!

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