Contemporary French Civilization

Story versus history: the contentious creation of the historical videogame Versailles 1685

Contemporary French Civilization (2019), 44, (1), 61–79.


Details

Versailles 1685: A Game of Intrigue was a historical videogame released in 1996. It claimed to be the first ludo-educational videogame. This paper intends to highlight the conflictual creation of the game Versailles 1685 through the study of its creation process. During the design of this game, two visions were at odds with each other: a historical approach versus an entertainment approach. According to our findings, this conflict shaped the final gameplay of the game, which led to inconsistencies and the limitation of the players’ “historical agency.” Although, in 1996, the debate between story and history was private for Versailles 1685, the question of the scientific authenticity of historical games is now a topic of interest for both scholars and videogames players. We hope that this paper will help understand Versailles 1685 and shine a new light on this question.

Videogames and CD-ROM cited

Assassin’s Creed II, Ubisoft Montréal, 2009, Ubisoft. Google Scholar

Assassin’s Creed Unity, Ubisoft Montréal, 2014, Ubisoft. Google Scholar

Dune, Cryo Interactive, 1992, Virgin Interactive. Google Scholar

Louvre, Montparnasse Multimédia, 1994, Réunion des Musées Nationaux. Google Scholar

Myst, Cyan, 1993, Brøderbund Software. Google Scholar

OFabulis, Lelièvre, E., 2014, Université de Versailles Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, Centre des Monuments Nationaux, Emissive. Google Scholar

Versailles 1685: Complot à la cour du Roi Soleil, Cryo Interactive, Canal + Multimedia, Éditions Textuel, la Réunion des musées nationaux 1996, Cryo Interactive, Canal + Multimedia. Google Scholar

Works cited

Caillois, Roger. Les Jeux et Les Hommes. Gallimard, 1992. Google Scholar

Dangeau, Philippe de Courcillon (1638–1720). Mémoire sur la mort de Louis XIV. Didot frères, fils, 1858. gallica.bnf.fr. Google Scholar

de Margerie, Anne, Isabelle Backouche, Marie Desplechin, and Joël Cornette. Versailles au siècle de Louis XIV. Réunion des musées nationaux, 1993. Google Scholar

Dow, Douglas N. “Historical Veneers: Anachronism, Simulation and History in Assassin’s Creed II.” Playing with the Past: Digital Games and the Simulation of History, edited by Matthew Wilhem Kapell and Andrew B.R. Elliott, Bloomsbury Academic, 2013, pp. 215–231. Google Scholar

Elliott, Andrew B.R., and Matthew Wilhem Kapell. “Introduction: To Build a Past That Will ‘stand the Test of Time’ – Discovering Historical Facts, Assembling Historical Narratives.” Playing with the Past: Digital Games and the Simulation of History, edited by Matthew Wilhem Kapell and Andrew B.R. Elliott, Bloomsbury Academic, 2013, pp. 1–29. Google Scholar

Fagon, Louis. “Saisir l’histoire par les jeux vidéo, compte-rendu de la séance du 30 Novembre 2015 Autour de Jean-Clément Martin.” re/lire les sciences sociales. 3 Dec. 2015. Web. Google Scholar

Forsans, Emmanuel. Personal interview, 22 Jul. 2015. Google Scholar

Granatstein, J.L. Who Killed Canadian History? HarperCollins, 1998. Google Scholar

Holt, Thomas C. Thinking Historically: Narrative, Imagination, and Understanding. College Entrance Examination Board, 1990. Google Scholar

Ichbiah, Daniel. Bâtisseurs de rêves: enquête sur le nouvel Eldorado des jeux vidéo. F1rst, 1997. Google Scholar

Juul, Jesper. “Half-Real: A Dictionary of Video Game Theory.” Half-Real: A Dictionary of Video Game Theory. 2005. Web. Google Scholar

Kee, Kevin. “Computerized History Games: Narrative Options.” Simulation & Gaming, vol. 42, no. 4, 2008, pp. 423–440. Google Scholar

Lelièvre, Edwige. “OFabulis and Versailles 1685: A Comparative Study of the Creation Process behind Video Games on Historical Monuments.” DiGRA/FDG ’16: Proceedings of the 2016 Playing With History Workshop, vol. 13, no. 3, 2016. Web. Google Scholar

Parker, Felan. “An Art World for Artgames.” Loading… The Journal of the Canadian Game Studies Association, vol. 7, no. 11, 2013, pp. 41–60. Google Scholar

Passeron, René. La naissance d’Icare: éléments de poïétique générale. Ae2cq, 1996. Google Scholar

Picard, Martin. “Les enjeux esthétiques du jeu vidéo : entre art, stylistique et interactivité.” Sciences du jeu, vol. 6, 2016. Web. Google Scholar

Révillard, Sophie. “Vers un jeu culturel.” Internship report. Mastère Multimédia-Hypermédia ENSBA/ENST, 1995. Google Scholar

Révillard, Sophie.“Game Design Versailles.” Mar. 1996. Unpublished electronic document. Google Scholar

Révillard, Sophie. Personal interview, 29 Jul. 2015. Google Scholar

Saule, Béatrix. Versailles triomphant: une journée de Louis XIV. Flammarion 1996. Google Scholar

Saule, Béatrix. Personal interview, 3 Sep. 2015. Google Scholar

Siraudeau, Sébastien. Personal interview, 3 Sep. 2015. Google Scholar

Uricchio, William. “Simulation, History and Computer Games.” Handbook of Computer Game Studies, edited by Jozef Frederik Ferdinand Raessens and Jeffrey H. Goldstein, MIT Press, 2005, pp. 327–338. Google Scholar

Waintrop, Edouard. “Il a mis le Louvre dans votre ordinateur.” Libération. 28 Dec. 1995. Web. Google Scholar

Wineburg, Sam. Historical Thinking and Other Unnatural Acts: Charting the Future of Teaching the Past. Temple UP, 2001. Google Scholar

If you have private access to this content, please log in with your username and password here

Author details

Lelièvre, Edwige