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The English Heritage Trust has apologised for a marketing campaign which some industry figures perceived as being dismissive of video games as a form of culture.
The charity, which manages over 400 historic sites across England including Stonehenge, has circulated leaflets with the tagline, “isn’t it time to make their virtual world history?”
The slogan is accompanied by an image of a DualShock controller impaled by a sword.
An image of the leaflet was shared on Twitter by Mode 7 co-founder Paul Kilduff-Taylor, who criticised English Heritage for “casually dismissing” the heritage aspect of games.
“That’s a no from me and also the entire UK games industry – how about collaborating instead of this nonsense?”
Team 17’s MD, Debbie Bestwick MBE expressed similar frustration, writing: “Seriously this is ridiculous marketing from English Heritage… expected better.”
Programmer Juju Adams wrote: “I spent a large part of my youth wandering round turf mazes and neolithic burial chambers, and an equally large part playing games that inspired a love of history. These things aren’t mutually exclusive unless people force them to be.”
In a follow up message, English Heritage claimed that the marketing in question was intended as “a tongue-in-cheek take on a debate among parents.”
“We’re sorry for missing the mark on this one,” a spokesperson said. “This was intended to be a tongue-in-cheek take on a debate among parents, who this leaflet is aimed at.
“We certainly didn’t intend to dismiss the value of digital culture but appreciate it may have come across differently.
“We recognise the power of digital and video gaming. Our partnership with Google Arts and Culture, our Minecraft workshops and the recent VR reconstruction of St Augustine’s Abbey are just some of the ways we champion the gaming industry.”
Some game series such as Total War and Assassin’s Creed have been praised for their commitment to historical accuracy, with the latter even spinning off an educational-focused series.
Ubisoft’s Discovery Tour is a “living museum” featuring the game worlds of Assassin’s Creed titles Odyssey and Origins.
The educational mode allows players to discover and explore ancient Egypt and Greece, free of conflict or gameplay constraints.