So this should come as absolutely no surprise to anyone, but the history of mankind is extremely expansive and diverse. From extinct civilizations, ancient myths to historical wars, the past is full of a lot of unique and captivating stories that have always intrigued people desperate to learn more about the origins of the modern world.
I’m one such person, and while I don’t claim to be particularly well versed in world history, I have always been fascinated by particular facets of the subject that have always appealed to my curiosity. Specifically, I’ve always had an interest in ancient warfare and empires.
But because of the sheer scope of human history, the subject can often times be extremely intimidating for a lot of people. I certainly know that it was for me at the start.
And this might seem laughable to some people, but Assassin’s Creed actually helped me expand my knowledge and got me interested in time periods and cultures I might never have heard about otherwise. Yes, of course the games are highly fictional stories often set against real historical backdrops, but that doesn’t mean that the settings themselves weren’t real once upon a time.
I actually genuinely believe that some of the best stories in the franchise, Assassin’s Creed, Assassin’s Creed II, Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag and Assassin’s Creed: Origins, were so great because their settings felt so authentic. Or at least as authentic as a video game is capable of being.
Take for example the actual real life Order of Assassins, or Hashshashin, that existed between the 11th and 13th centuries. Had I never played the very first Assassin’s Creed game, I might have never learned who they were, what tactics they used or even how the English word Assassin is actually derived from the Arabic word Hashshashin.
From here I was motivated to further learn about the Crusades, and I dived deep into literature like Thomas Asbridge’s The First Crusade: A New History in an effort to learn more about these conflicts and the Hashshashin themselves.
Similarly, 2018’s Assassin’s Creed Odyssey got me into learning about the Peloponnesian War, and it helped me dispel a lot of the misinformation I had been fed over the years about ancient Greece, particularly about the Spartans and their customs and laws.
Like for example: Did you know that Spartan society was not nearly as glamorous as films like 300 would have you believe? In Spartan territories there existed an entire class of people known as Helots, who were basically slaves, and Spartans would ritually oppress and murder these people without ever facing any real backlash.
I certainly didn’t know about this, but with a push from Assassin’s Creed Odyssey I started learning about ancient Greece and even right now I’m in the middle of finishing up a book on the subject titled Sparta and Lakonia: A Regional History by Paul Cartledge.
Assassin’s Creed is not historically accurate, and the series has never actually claimed to be. It is fiction, and like most great fiction, the stories that unfold in these games are influenced by real life events.
I’m not the only person that rediscovered their love for world history through this franchise, and I certainly won’t be the last. You can find countless message threads and blog posts online by people like me who were inspired by these games to learn more about their favorite time periods.
Assassin’s Creed got me to pick up a book simply to compare reality with fiction, and in turn I broadened my knowledge about a subject that I am deeply passionate about. And for that, It will always hold a special place in my heart.
And you know an era in history I’ve always been passionate about over all the rest? The Viking Age.
So when I learned that the next game is the series (Assassin’s Creed Valhalla) would focus on this particular premise and culture, I was beyond ecstatic. I’ve been hoping for a Viking Assassin’s Creed for years, and I can finally get my hands on it next month.
November 10th cannot get here fast enough.