Kingdom Come Deliverance’s quest for historical accuracy is a fool’s errand

Authenticity. Accuracy. Realism. If you’ve been following the debates around Kingdom Come: Deliverance, you’ll have seen these words a lot, as well as others, like representation, racism and diversity. In the wake its release, there’s been a lot of talk about whether or not Warhorse Studios had been able to make good on their ambitions to deliver an RPG grounded in historical reality. It’s a natural question, but perhaps a better one might be: does the promise of historical accuracy make sense in the first place?

The game’s problems (and there are many) aren’t a symptom of a list of inaccuracies that could be fixed, but are rooted in the shaky, dangerous foundations on which those claims were built.

It’s important to remember that the past is never presented to us on a silver tablet and we should be wary of any version of past events which claims to be the absolute truth. History is messy and full of gaps into which we necessarily stumble. There are gaps where historical sources have been lost, discarded or destroyed in the intervening centuries. And, more metaphorically, there are those gaps produced by the collectively upheld blind spots of earlier societies. Medieval writers weren’t, for the most part, in the habit of recording the lives or circumstances of peasants, the poor, children, women, or outsiders like the Romani. What we know about the lives of these people has been pieced together by researchers trying to create a whole from puzzle pieces that were never really meant to fit together. It’s educated guesswork, and the pieces that have been handed down have been largely (de)formed by the prejudices of those that came before.

Even if we treat every historical source and piece of research as acting in good faith, there will always be contradictions and gaps. If we take into consideration deliberate lies, as well as errors and misunderstandings, the picture becomes even more confused.

The intro already suggests the marginal role women will be playing in the game

Simply speaking, historians are not perfect. They’re biased, and they have to be. A good historian interrogates their sources from very specific angles that necessarily exclude many other considerations, which often says as much about them and their attitudes as it does about the period they’re studying. To make things more complicated, these preconceptions change with time. Today’s trendy biases are very different from the biases of 19th century historians, who focused mostly on the deeds of ‘great men’ and, in the wake of nationalism, on such important concerns as the essential differences between, say, the German and French peoples.

Attempting to create a historically accurate game set in the Middle Ages necessitates wading through a mire of biases that has been accumulating over the span of centuries. Once that’s done, any creator is going to add their personal preconceptions to the mix, whether intentionally or not. This is not a cause for the gnashing of teeth or the throwing of towels, however. Owning up to your prejudices and recognising them as such is one of the first steps to creating an interesting interpretation of the past. Challenge them, or explore their implications; either way, you have to deal with them. If, on the other hand, you’re after objective truth and look at your inherited sources and historical writings as gospel, there’s a good chance you’re going to perpetuate harmful and distorting biases.

Kingdom Come: Deliverance isn’t propaganda, but there’s still a semi-coherent ideological framework at its core. KCD looks at medieval society through a lens of patriarchy, and the various -isms it’s associated with: sexism, classism, and chauvinism. We’re presented a world where men were still men, where peasants and women still knew their places in society, where wise lords and knights protected their people from barbaric hordes threatening a well-ordered nation from without, and whose foreign ethnicity is conveniently marked by language and costumes.

Cuman cruelty

“But that’s how it was back then,” comes the familiar response to these observations. “Go read a book.” (Which book, I wonder? They rarely say.) For the sake of argument, let’s assume that everything we see in this game is historically accurate. What about the things we don’t see? Of course, KCD’s interpretation of medieval Bohemia is partly the result of a great deal of research, but it is also the product of assumptions and decisions about what to include or focus on – and by extension, whether consciously or not, what to exclude. So, what does KCD believe warrants inclusion?

Right off the bat, it’s clear that KCD’s main interests are politics, war, and material culture (weapons, architecture, etc). Its claims of historical accuracy are measured almost solely against these interests. The more intangible aspects of life, such as social conduct, creativity, language, religious belief and mentality, aren’t given as much attention. KCD mostly assumes that people behaved, spoke, and reasoned just like we do today: throw in a “God be with you” as the opening line of every dialogue tree, and voila, medieval conversation!

Some aspects of life are excluded entirely. There are no children, for example. Some of the biggest exclusions, however, stem from a fetishizing of the ‘typical’. Non-conformism or ‘deviancy’ is practically non-existent: there are no rebellious women, no revolutionaries, no religious sceptics on the one hand, no religious fanatics on the other, no representatives of other cultures apart from murderous Cumans, and really no misfits of any kind that aren’t common thugs. Despite the backstory of war, slaughter, and displacement, Bohemia is shown as a place of homogenous equilibrium and conformity, where everyone, peasant to lord, knows their place and is content with it. In those few cases where we get to meet someone atypical, like the brawling, drinking, and decidedly un-celibate priest Godwin or the three ‘witches’ of Uzhiz who crop up in a ludicrously ahistorical side quest, their deviancy is played wholly for laughs.

Those who don’t fit are either laughingstocks or 'vermin'

This image of a society that is essentially content with its own stasis not only contradicts the game’s storyline – which is about the rise of a peasant – but also the historical research. It seems especially strange in the context of the looming Hussite Wars (1419-1434), during which the grievances of the desperate poor exploded in a bloody revolt against clerics and nobles alike. The teachings of Jan Hus, a theologian whose execution in 1415 helped spark these wars, are mentioned here and there in the game in connection with a vague anti-clericalism (common in the Late Middle Ages). In KCD this distrust of priests is shown as something peasants and nobles have in common. The resentments that would soon tear Bohemia apart are paradoxically portrayed as a potential national unifier.

The Hussite Wars were a time of extreme dissent, religious heterodoxy, and fanaticism. In his classic book “The Pursuit of the Millennium” (1957), historian Norman Cohn describes the ideology of certain extremist groups like the Taborites as “anarcho-communism”. Cohn recounts how many peasants sold all their belongings or even burnt their homes to the ground to join these groups, which forbade individual property. Taking what they needed by force, they lived in constant anticipation of the imminent Second Coming of Christ. An even more extreme group, the so-called Adamites “held that God dwelt in the Saints of the Last Days, that is, in themselves; and that that made them superior to Christ.”

One of many idyllic villages in the game

There’s nothing in the sober, too-familiar behaviour of KCD’s peasants to suggest that Bohemia is a powder keg waiting to blow up in just a few years. In its pursuit of an ‘authentic’ medieval world, Warhorse has produced a toothless interpretation, removing the noise, the strangeness, everything that might give you pause or challenge popular preconceptions, in favour of a trite vision of an idealised national past.

We can partly blame the game’s ideology for these failures, but there are other reasons as well. One of them might be the uncritical assumption that we can use cookie-cutter RPG tropes and systems – KCD plays like TES: Oblivion for the most part – as groundwork for an authentic historical recreation. Apart from being associated with D&D and other sword ‘n’ sorcery scenarios, there’s nothing about typical RPG systems that makes them ‘medieval’ in any meaningful sense. The painfully clichéd story of an ordinary guy seeking revenge after his parents’ murder doesn’t help either. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with exploring various aspects of history through the lens of RPGs and their tropes, but are we to believe that, after removing the dragons from Skyrim, what we are left with is a realistic simulation of the Middle Ages? KCD is essentially like Westworld: a thin veneer of historical ‘realism’ covering up what is really a superficial theme park that exists to gratify the whims of its visitors.

The grim’n’gritty variety of popular ‘realism’

An equally problematic modern imposition, however, might be the idea of realism itself. Or rather, the idea that realism is synonymous with historical authenticity. Our modern ideas of realism would probably have been entirely unintelligible to people living in medieval times, who held beliefs and ideas that seem utterly alien to us today, but that were absolutely ‘real’ to them. Those Bohemian peasants burning down their homes in religious ecstasy probably would not have subscribed to our rationalist, materialistic world view. We are intended to experience this medieval world not as a time traveller, but through the eyes of an authentically medieval ‘average Joe’, but the fact that we are able to slip into Henry’s skin without any friction or culture shock should tell you enough. This doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t be allowed to look at past societies from a modern understanding of the world, but any game that unthinkingly embraces realism as a shortcut to an authentic ‘medieval experience’ will likely end up distorting the past.

The game’s beautiful wall paintings, at least, convey some of the strangeness of the medieval world

The past is more than an accumulation of facts, and filling a world with period-accurate weaponry, recreations of castles and allusions to historical events doesn’t equate to historical authenticity. KCD sees its own modern biases reflected in a past age because it plants them there, as all historical appraisal or recreation must to an extent. Here, that is taken one step further. KCD sets out to celebrate the past, but ironically distorts its idealised object. The dream of an objective, accurate recreation of the past will always be a fool’s errand, and in pursuing it, Warhorse have created another fantasy game. One without dragons, but a fantasy nonetheless.

339 Comments

Top comments

  1. fuzzyfuzzyfungus says:

    "A flawed understanding, with due humility about the state of our knowledge, is still better than no understanding."

    I'd agree with that; but that goal is arguably most effectively undercut by games that pick up the "Realism!!!" banner and wave it around without actually being too careful about deserving it.

    This doesn't make them bad as games: "gritty low/no-magic setting with hunger bars and drunkenness and lots of unheroic bleeding to death" is all well and good, and given the game's popularity may be exactly what people where looking for after a bunch of choosing whether to fire orange space magic, purple space magic, or assault rifles in the shiny future of Mass Effect; and generally coasting around on a sachel full of healing potions in Bethesda games where not even the post-apocalyptic scrap equipment degrades with use anymore. All well and good.

    Similarly, "We went and raided medieval Bohemia for flavor because Ye Olde Generic Fantasye is always set in I-can't-believe-it's-not-Britaine and that's getting boring" is also all well and good; there is a lot more interesting history out there than seems to be routinely exploited for RPG backgrounds, and that's a shame.

    The problem is where you do a bait and switch and go from "we chose something more interesting than the garden variety options" to "Look, real authentic authenticity!". The former is, at worst, harmless; and at best might actually teach you something about a culture not usually used for fluff in RPGs; rather than one that is constantly strip-mined for the purpose. The latter is a misrepresentation, all the more misleading for not having elves and fireballs, that encourages you to treat it as more accurate when it is merely more plausible looking.

    It's sort of like with food: some "Asian Fusion" restaurant will have only rather tenuous links to actual food as actually eaten by real people in asia(much less a specific coherent group of them at a given place and time); but it doesn't make any particular claim to authenticity, just to being an interesting option because it borrows a variety of less familiar dishes and flavors and spices and stuff and sets out to do cool stuff with them. A restaurant that claims to offer a specific regional variant of Sichaun, say, is making a much stronger claim to 'authenticity'; which can be a good thing if it is accurate; but misleading if it's actually just basic American-style 'chinese food' with a pretense of authenticity.

    There's nothing wrong(and, especially in contexts that aren't friendly to exhaustive footnotes often a lot right) with deeply selective sampling from history to suit your purposes; but representing the result as "historical" is, because of its surface plausibility, more dishonest than the more overtly unrealistic Faeries and mythical Knights of Chivalraee and whatnot.

    The problem here is that the RPG equivalent of fusion cuisine: drawing from an unusual and somewhat exotic set of sources rather than the mainstays and going gritty low magic rather than the typical swords and sorcery; is being represented as an 'authentic' take on medieval Bohemia, hindered only by the limits of simulation rather than by substantial liberties taken with the source material.

    So long as you do not claim to be 'historically accurate' you can do a great many things with history without the slightest dishonesty. If you go there, though, you face a rather high burden of proof; probably one that exceeds what can be comfortably crammed into a game that is still fun.
  1. TillEulenspiegel says:

    I loved the Darklands approach, which was to gleefully take in all the contemporary sources and assume they’re true, from the slander against the Templars and Malleus Maleficarum to common folklore to more sober works like De Re Militari. It creates a delightful setting.

    I think KC:D mostly does a decent job at recreating a genuine medieval feel (eg, the frequent casual Christian references are a nice touch), but yes subjectivity is unavoidable especially when you’re attempting to create an entire first-person simulation of a historical period for which there is limited documentation. Realism at that level is plainly impossible.

    • Zorgulon says:

      What is a “genuine Medieval feel”, and how is anyone playing or developing this game qualified to judge?

      • joer says:

        List of names with PHD initials after them in the end credits?

        No one can, at least, fault the devs for trying to recreate the physical locations the game is set in. Some of it is quite good and looks quite like the real life places/buildings.

        link to i.redd.it
        link to i.redd.it

        • Zorgulon says:

          Granted, they obviously spoke to a lot of historical consultants about buildings and weapons and armour, and that is all very cool.

          My point was in terms of how people behave – from what I’ve read and seen, the dialogue and characterisation is perhaps an area where those PhDs didn’t have much input (and may not have been the best at doing those things anyway).

          As argued in the article and the comments, the dialogue (save a few archaic idioms) would not be out of place in a game set in the present day. The hero is a familiar everyman.

          Of course nobody alive knows what went through the mind of a medieval peasant. But based on the complete lack of culture shock the author notes, it seems they didn’t really even try.

    • Hedgeclipper says:

      The most cutting critique in the article was about the lack of culture shock – Charles Stross had a thought provoking article on his blog a while back about cultural estrangement with a specific example of the culture shock an English person would experience going back to the UK in 1914 (link to antipope.org). Being able to step back to medieval Bohemia with barely a blink shows just how utterly Warhorse failed any sort of claim to historical accuracy.

    • lfcifer7 says:

      Quite surprising to find an article with 90% of it’s content about history, on rockpapershotgun. As a huge history buff, it was a nice read, but barely even mentions KCD. Totally not what I was expecting to see her.

  2. Evan_ says:

    I missed this awareness of possible levels of historical inaccuracies from the AC:O Tour version review.

    And for some strange reason, that article made me want to try KCD more than anything I read before about it.

    • MarcusInferior says:

      Guess no one wants to mess around with Ubisoft because they might fear not to get their commisions paid. So it’s totally better and nicer to blame the game that is (for the moment) one of the best sold games on Steam the last weeks. A success that Ubisoft can’t really call their own. I reaLLY don’t care about how accurate KCD is, it’s just fun to play. But there will always be haters and those people that don’t want to conced Warhorse Studios has made a pretty good job here with just 1/10 of the financess of a AAA title.

      • Mutzli says:

        I can’t claim to speak for anyone else, but as an archaelogist and historian I was far less bothered by Assassin Creed Origins. That game actually went out of it’s way sometimes to tell the player that it certainly wasn’t entirely accurate in it’s depiction of ptolemaic Egypt. Contrast that with statements of Warhorse studios, who claimed that it was so historically acurrate, that historians consulted the dev team. Which is a ludicrous claim, anyone who’d consult with a team that produced such a hodge-podge of historical inaccuracies, would lose any claim to call themselves “historian”, if they weren’t actually researchers for other devs or interested laypersonsn.
        And shit like that irks me to no end, since that’s an attempt to elevate themselves to an entirely undeserved place and misinforms people who might then play the game and thinking that what they were presented with is an actual, accurate depiction of the Middle Ages. So I’m quite glad that RPS included this piece, which wouldn’t make any sense in the case of AC:O.

        • ThePurge says:

          Usually, I wouldn’t bother replying to statements such as yours, but I really have to call bullshit on this one. Multiple leading Czech historians (including the most esteemed professors who actually speacialize in research of this particular era of Czech history) consulted the developer team (as is, in fact, stated in the game Credits). They had an in-house historian for the game as well.

          Your claim is outright wrong and dishonest. It’s also very amusing how you try to add credibility to your post by stating that you are both “an archaelogist and historian” while clearly having no knowledge whatsoever on the subject of Czech history. Which would be fine, until you started calling the game “a hodge-podge of historical inaccuracies” (not pointing out any of them as well, but w/e).

          Now, I am not saying that it is 100% historically accurate, that is another topic. However, your claims are absolutely ridiculous and amusing at the same time as I am myself a historian focusing primarily on the medieval history of modern-day Czech Republic.

          • Richard Jangles says:

            I made this account just to tell you….

            BRAVO!

            P.S. KCD is a WONDERFUL game. Search my name on steam for played time :D.

        • DragonDai says:

          It is shocking how much hate can blind people to reality. You’re comment here is such absolute bullshit it’s just shocking. As someone else pointed out with specifics, you should be ashamed of being so absolutely, totally, utterly, and completely wrong about basically everything you said.

          Put the bias away and step out of your echo chamber. You’re only making yourself look foolish.

    • SuddenSight says:

      DId we read the same AC:O Tour review? What I remember of that article is the author complaining about the lack of any sourcing, an inconsistency in subject matter, and a lack of critical interpretation. Of the source materials. Though much of the article was also spent complaining about how boring it all was. Still, there definitely was more than a little critique of the historical accuracy of AC:O Tour.

    • pepperfez says:

      The AssCreed tour is claiming to be a fancy museum exhibit; KCD is claiming to be an accurate, coherent representation of its setting and specifically not a subjective interpretation of it. Each game is being evaluated on its own terms.

  3. latedave says:

    I’m not sure a full debate on Kingdom’s historical accuracy or inaccuracy is really possible in the length of a commentary like this but if RPS is going to do it I would like to see proper references, quotations and multiple sources, the kind of thing I would expect from a historical article. I read this site for game reviews and the wit of the writers, I click on the Sunday Papers for my education and would be happily directed to a much longer debate on the subject.

    • bglamb says:

      Sounds a bit like an Isolated Demand for Rigour. link to slatestarcodex.com

      • MrUnimport says:

        That’s a very useful term. But I don’t think an internet comment section is the right place to use it. People are naturally going to ask for sources for claims they are skeptical of, and where there is no expectation of impartiality, as there is for the science czar in the example, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. In particular, it worries me that accusing someone of being hypocritically rigorous can very easily be used as a deflection by people who are arguing disingenuously or who really do not have sources for their claims.

        • bglamb says:

          Right, but I don’t agree with the claim that the author is “arguing disingenuously” or that the article somehow falls down due to lack of sources.

          The author is not making claim to a bunch of disputed facts about the period, he’s making a much broader point. If someone really wants to look up some of the specific facts the author mentioned, then they can, but to reply to the whole argument with ‘needs more sources’ seems inappropriate.

          I reckon you could list the last 1000 comments from RPS, many of which will be disagreeing with authors, and not find anyone declaiming the lack of sources. And rightly so, because to expect references and sources on an article like this is a bit laughable.

          Also, the fact that people *could* use the ‘Isolated Demand For Rigour” defence inappropriately, does not mean that it is inappropriate in this case.

    • Risingson says:

      We can start with the wikipedia links.

      • latedave says:

        Well as someone who did history as a degree I think there’s a large difference between most of RPS work which is opinion based and something like this which is making factual statements, albeit heavily mixed with opinion so I would expect at least footnotes at the bottom. It makes some really interesting points and I would enjoy a longer article but I don’t think that’s an unreasonable request.

        • Titler says:

          As someone who also did a history degree, and read the article, how do you provide sources for something which the article actually states we don’t have sources for?

          The sheer weight of comments on this thread, some from some very outraged fans proves people want to believe in the game, or even it’s wider nationalist perspective … but it always was and always will be a myth. The vast majority of human experience in every society right up to the internet age were dominated by only a tiny number of voices, usually taken from the Elite or those who broke into it somehow. You’re never speaking for a nation, or even a way of life… but only the story that was told about it, by those who did well out of it at the time.

          And never the stories told by those whose backs the country was built upon, because those are rapidly lost.

          Next time you’re out for a walk, stop by a graveyard; most stones are starting to be unreadable from around the early 1800s, but even when you can get a name, try and find out anything about the person buried there. The best you’ll do for the vast majority are birth, death, marriage records, if those records have survived fire, flood and bomb damage over the intervening years, and if you don’t have the time or money to search physical archives, if someone online has taken a particular interest in a particularly scenic burial ground and done the spade-work for you… But beyond that, the average person has left no wider trace, even in what is relatively recent history.

          Go back further, and you won’t even know their names any more. And wiping people from history was actively used as a punishment in the past; the Romans and their Damnatio Memoriae, or the ancient Egyptians who believed the Name was part of the eternal soul, so destroying the name destroyed your enemy in the next life too…

          This article lists quite a few of the religious controversies of the exact, specific historical setting Kingdom Come lays claim to be set in; yet none appear, and instead you get the dominant cultural and nationalistic perspective that would eventually arise out of it as if it was always the Bohemian tradition. The game even makes claim to a standard of female beauty that is sociologically highly suspect; blond, and thin supposedly… when societies operating at a subsistence level generally tend to admire rotundness as a sign of obvious wealth. Think the fat laughing Buddha, or the attraction to huge buttocks in Africa… or Henry VIII for that matter being huge (and pustulant) but painted as being powerful.

          But again, back to the start of my post… and the point of the article… we don’t and can’t know what the real truth was because most of it is now lost. The reason the modern age is so full of historical revisionism isn’t because the Left is full of snowflakes and everything has to be Politically Correct… rather it’s that you’re finally starting to hear EVERYONE’S voices; and it turns out the Patriotically Correct perspective isn’t as real or dominant as the national myths tried to insist after all.

          By all means enjoy your alternative reality games. Just don’t pretend they’re actual, genuine, let alone undeniable historical truths.

  4. basilisk says:

    Thank you for this piece. It has been rather frustrating to watch people play the “historical accuracy” card as if it was a definitive argument when in fact it’s anything but.

    It’s strange how many people don’t really grasp how fundamentally flawed the whole field of history is.

    • Butler says:

      see also: science

      at least most everything from the 1950s and earlier (which is most of it)

      • aepervius says:

        “see also: science at least most everything from the 1950s and earlier (which is most of it)”

        What are you smoking ? 1950 is late in the field of science. The greatest advancement came with chemistry (19th century and early 20th – particularly organic chemistry) quantum mechanic (late 19th early 20th) and radioactivity (1896 – polonium , radium Marie and Pierre Curie !) or relativity (very early 20th – 1905). And I am not even touching things like math, that would bring us even centuries & millenia earlier sometime. That conception that must was wrong before the 1950 is wrong. The *technological* impact of applied science became enormous in the 50ies, but the reality is that the fundamental stepping stone were done long before.

      • pepperfez says:

        It’s not like modern science has finally transcended subjectivity, unfortunately. We’re increasingly aware that cultural blindspots are things, but not always what they are or how to avoid them.

    • MrUnimport says:

      I am not sure how you could possibly make a video game about any kind of historical setting if you are concerned about possibly promulgating an inaccurate view of history. At some point we just have to make our peace with the fundamental flaws inherent in the practice of history. A flawed understanding, with due humility about the state of our knowledge, is still better than no understanding.

      • btonasse says:

        I don’t think that’s the problem. The problem is promulgating a cliché view of history and claiming that what you did is deeper or revolutionary or whatever.

        • basilisk says:

          Exactly so. It’s perfectly fine to present your interpretation of history, but it’s always just that: your interpretation.

          All serious historians are well aware of this, and it doesn’t stop them writing new books. It’s something you can work with, but you can’t ever lose sight of this one simple truth. All of history is just an interpretation of available facts.

        • ohminus says:

          That argument mirrors the core of the problem of the article – it suggests that accuracy is binary. By that notion, any attempt at historiography would also be futile. But we can be more or less accurate in our depiction of a period, and individual historical aspects.

      • fuzzyfuzzyfungus says:

        “A flawed understanding, with due humility about the state of our knowledge, is still better than no understanding.”

        I’d agree with that; but that goal is arguably most effectively undercut by games that pick up the “Realism!!!” banner and wave it around without actually being too careful about deserving it.

        This doesn’t make them bad as games: “gritty low/no-magic setting with hunger bars and drunkenness and lots of unheroic bleeding to death” is all well and good, and given the game’s popularity may be exactly what people where looking for after a bunch of choosing whether to fire orange space magic, purple space magic, or assault rifles in the shiny future of Mass Effect; and generally coasting around on a sachel full of healing potions in Bethesda games where not even the post-apocalyptic scrap equipment degrades with use anymore. All well and good.

        Similarly, “We went and raided medieval Bohemia for flavor because Ye Olde Generic Fantasye is always set in I-can’t-believe-it’s-not-Britaine and that’s getting boring” is also all well and good; there is a lot more interesting history out there than seems to be routinely exploited for RPG backgrounds, and that’s a shame.

        The problem is where you do a bait and switch and go from “we chose something more interesting than the garden variety options” to “Look, real authentic authenticity!”. The former is, at worst, harmless; and at best might actually teach you something about a culture not usually used for fluff in RPGs; rather than one that is constantly strip-mined for the purpose. The latter is a misrepresentation, all the more misleading for not having elves and fireballs, that encourages you to treat it as more accurate when it is merely more plausible looking.

        It’s sort of like with food: some “Asian Fusion” restaurant will have only rather tenuous links to actual food as actually eaten by real people in asia(much less a specific coherent group of them at a given place and time); but it doesn’t make any particular claim to authenticity, just to being an interesting option because it borrows a variety of less familiar dishes and flavors and spices and stuff and sets out to do cool stuff with them. A restaurant that claims to offer a specific regional variant of Sichaun, say, is making a much stronger claim to ‘authenticity’; which can be a good thing if it is accurate; but misleading if it’s actually just basic American-style ‘chinese food’ with a pretense of authenticity.

        There’s nothing wrong(and, especially in contexts that aren’t friendly to exhaustive footnotes often a lot right) with deeply selective sampling from history to suit your purposes; but representing the result as “historical” is, because of its surface plausibility, more dishonest than the more overtly unrealistic Faeries and mythical Knights of Chivalraee and whatnot.

        The problem here is that the RPG equivalent of fusion cuisine: drawing from an unusual and somewhat exotic set of sources rather than the mainstays and going gritty low magic rather than the typical swords and sorcery; is being represented as an ‘authentic’ take on medieval Bohemia, hindered only by the limits of simulation rather than by substantial liberties taken with the source material.

        So long as you do not claim to be ‘historically accurate’ you can do a great many things with history without the slightest dishonesty. If you go there, though, you face a rather high burden of proof; probably one that exceeds what can be comfortably crammed into a game that is still fun.

        • Massenstein says:

          This was an excellent summary.

        • Brood_Star says:

          Shoot yourself into my veins.

        • Dewal says:

          Your comment is very well written and I have a question for you.

          Did they claim true realism or historical accuracy ? Because agreeing that history can’t translate the precise reality of things doesn’t mean that someone can’t be accurate to the parts that we know of.

          If we had text that explained that everyone wore red at a party but don’t say anything about hats. And then in my recreation of the party in my game, everyone is dressed in red and they wear hats that I’ve seen people could wear at the time. I won’t ever know if my view of the party is a true depiction of what happened, but isn’t it historicaly accurate though ? Or should I just pretend the party didn’t exist because I won’t ever be able to be sure of how it went exactly ?

          In the end almost every example of historical inaccuracy in the article has been debunked in the comments (you can look for Blastaz’s, among others). What I’d like to see is someone that actually played the game and is well versed in Czech history point where in the game Warhorse has truly been dishonest.
          And be it someone who doesn’t have some sort of crusade against the game, too. I mean, the title text “The intro already suggests…” on the first picture where the narrator explain that the king is litteraly spending his time in orgies is so blatantly dishonest I’m surprised nobody reacted to it. It’s an orgy, of course men and women are naked ! Does showing naked people is sexist now ? (And all the title texts on the pictures are gratuitously sarcastic or condescendant)

          • Michael Anson says:

            Historical accuracy is literally one of the selling points on the game’s Steam page.

          • Dewal says:

            Then everything’s good.

          • adammtlx says:

            “Historical accuracy is literally one of the selling points on the game’s Steam page.”

            Are we really going to do this? We’re really going to try to break down and quantify what that means?

            Are you seriously contending that because the game can’t be 100% historically accurate that it shouldn’t be allowed to credibly advertise the attempt? Or, as the author of this article seems to believe, that it shouldn’t bother even trying?

          • Nogo says:

            “We’re really going to try to break down and quantify what that means?”

            Sure, why not? Especially when it’s used as a blanket justification for creative decisions. That’s just lazy craftsmanship.

            “Are you seriously contending that because the game can’t be 100% historically accurate that it shouldn’t be allowed to credibly advertise the attempt?”

            Yes. It’s right there in your sentence: credible.

        • Someoldguy says:

          I can’t speak for claims made by people involved in the project but the game appears to live up to all the things it set out to be on kickstarter. It’s based on historical events and features historical people. They’ve made big efforts to get all the set dressings right so the architecture, costumes, weapons and armour are suitable for the period. Yet the first article I come to apart from RPS is the embedded historian describing her role and learning when to insist on accuracy and when to bow to the needs of the people responsible for making it a game.

          Every time Paradox makes a historical grand strategy game, neckbeards come out of the woodwork to criticise their choice of province names, military unit, location of cities and more. Does that mean Paradox should give up claiming Europa Universalis or Crusader Kings are games based on historical accuracy? Should all the authors making a living from writing historical drama novels give up writing them because they’ve made the language resonate in ways that are familiar to us in the 21st Century? No. This just seems to be predictable media pushback against some rather overblown claims made by one of the project leads rather than objective criticism about what the game itself set out to be. I’ll take a good dose of historical setting overlaid with a playable game over some writing team’s best effort at another bizarre fantasy world every time. I’m tired of world settings that are trying far too hard to find a unique selling point to distinguish themselves from the hundreds of others already made.

    • Bashmet says:

      Exactly. It’s easy to get annoyed at this persistence when any intelligent person is going to know that this is a video game and ultimately none of this nonsense is of any significance. Is the game fun? Decide for your own fucking self.

    • Cederic says:

      I think it’s a great article. It explores the historical accuracy angle without passing judgement, without demonising anybody, without demanding anything from the game or its authors.

      It’s not entirely objective (which is fine) but it’s written in an objective style and advances the conversation, and that’s greatly appreciated.

      Really really nice to see, thank you RPS and Andreas.

  5. Scobie says:

    Figured this article was coming at some point. Can’t say I agree with it.

    • australopithecus says:

      Thanks for dropping by to leave your unsupported opinion. It’s been ages since I’ve read an unjustified opinion on the internet, and your one is very important to me…

  6. blainestereo says:

    let it go my man, this topic is so last week

    altho this whole “who knows what history really was like? certainly not these people who did a bunch of research because here is a link to some history” angle did give me a chuckle so ty for that i guess.

    • MrUnimport says:

      Yeah. We should be awake to the biases of historical sources, but that doesn’t mean we should totally give up on the project. Nothing is historically authentic, but some things may still be more authentic than others.

      • australopithecus says:

        Which is exactly what this article is saying. And that in many ways KCD is one of those things that is less authentic.

        • johnis1 says:

          @australopithecus

          … How is it Less Authentic? :l

          • Michael Anson says:

            You could try reading the article, but to sum up: the game presents a completely inaccurate picture of the structure and culture of Bohemian society during the time period, with no mention of multiple religious factions, class strife, or any cultural details. As such, it’s incredibly inauthentic.

          • shde2e says:

            And the fact that it claims to be “historically accurate”, meaning that it holds this picture up as an accurate portrayal of real life 15th century Bohemia. Instead of an interpretation of various historical sources, like all history is.

          • adammtlx says:

            “the game presents a completely inaccurate picture of the structure and culture of Bohemian society during the time period, with no mention of multiple religious factions, class strife, or any cultural details. As such, it’s incredibly inauthentic.”

            This is patently false. The author of the article is making the claim that we don’t know exactly what constituted life in Bohemian society during the time period, but that he KNOWS it wasn’t like it is in the game. Which is it? Do we know or do we not know?

            The author also presents opinions on the game’s “interpretation” of the developers’ own national history (for which they hired a team of historians) as factual. He also straw man’s the developers’ claims. The never claimed it was an accurate, medieval life simulator. His words, not theirs. Dishonest, much?

            The title of the article says historical accuracy is a fool’s errand. That’s what it says. So either we fill in the gaps as best we can, or we don’t bother trying at all. Which is it? You can’t have it both ways, and you can’t claim that we don’t actually know what it should have been like but that it SHOULD be like this and not like that. It’s nonsense.

    • Gormongous says:

      There’s research and then there’s research. As someone who studies medieval history as my profession (albeit northern Italy in the twelfth and thirteenth century rather than Bohemia in the early fifteenth), I have been surprised and saddened at how many people seem to have the assumption that you just read a lot of books about your subject and then any work that you proceed to do on that subject is unimpeachable, at least to “reasonable” people.

      For instance, this thread appeared on /r/badhistory shortly after the game’s release: link to reddit.com Some of it is nitpicky, some of it is irrelevant, but the upshot is clear: the developers talked extensively with historical reenactors, rather than historians of arms and armor, and the biases of those reenactors, who frequently try to “improve” upon historical examples of armor based on “common sense,” are all over the in-game designs. I’m glad that Vávra and company have reenactor friends with whom they can chat in the name of “research,” but that just goes to show that research doesn’t always mean rigor.

      The fact, as expressed in the article, that fourteenth-century Bohemia on the eve of the Hussite Wars is depicted as a unified society, verging on proto-nationalist in its self-conception, while fighting off Germans, Hungarians, and Cumans at every corner, should suggest to you that there is an agenda here and it is not just “accuracy.” It is about reimagining the past of Czechia in the guise of historical authenticity. That’s fine, plenty of historical fiction (and, in the case of works like Game of Thrones, historically inspired fantasy) is revisionist in a way that carters to or even flatters modern issues, but that’s going to get you rightful criticism if “historical accuracy” is one of the bullet points on your store page.

      • Prosper0_cz says:

        A better argued and put together critique of KCD historical accuracy than than the acutal article.

        Thanks for that.

    • baud001 says:

      > let it go my man, this topic is so last week

      It’s bringing clicks, comments and adds impressions, which are the metrics on which websites are judged today.

  7. onodera says:

    I was afraid this would be another one of *those* articles, but it turned out to be quite interesting in its observations. Makes me want to check out KCD and judge for myself.

    • Blastaz says:

      Did this chap play the game though?

      Some aspects of life are excluded entirely. There are no children, for example.
      Probably because violence against children is such a no no in games and they didn’t want to make them immortal like in TES.

      Some of the biggest exclusions, however, stem from a fetishizing of the ‘typical’. Non-conformism or ‘deviancy’ is practically non-existent: there are no rebellious women,
      Lady who runs the stables after her husband is killed?

      no revolutionaries,
      The entire plot of the game is about a revolution against the king

      no religious sceptics on the one hand,
      Waldensian heretics and hussite anti-clericism

      no religious fanatics on the other,
      The vicar who hunts them

      no representatives of other cultures apart from murderous Cumans,
      The Murderous Germans!

      and really no misfits of any kind that aren’t common thugs.
      Huge number of quests about dealing with refugees? The novices in the Monastery?

      • Biggus_Dikkus says:

        +1

      • Dewal says:

        I’ve not finished the game by far. But before playing I heard that women were badly designed and that the game was sexist & all…

        But from what I’ve seen… it’s not true at all. Sure they’re depicting a sexist society where women don’t really have power or a say in things. But from what we learn in history lessons, that’s actually how things were.

        So the interesting things would be to see how the women act in this sexist setting :
        [SPOILERS]
        – Your life is saved right at the beginning by a woman that throw herself confidently in front of bandits, even before knights come to chase them away.
        – In the first town after the prologue, the wife of the lord help you escape the fort (giving you money & advising you to steal a set of armor despite the wish of her husband) and then warn the lord to go help you. I kinda feel she had her way the whole time.
        – Three women risk their lives and souls in a ritual to chase the Cumans away…
        – …using the potions of another woman which is living alone confidently and is competent in botany and chemistry.

        So sure, there are not as many “important” women character than men (and that could be explained by the settings) but the one you meet are pretty nicely designed and are far from the stereotype you would expect if the game was approving of the ambient sexism. You also have some uninteresting side female characters and some prostitute but then you also have a lot of stupid & uninteresting male characters.

        I could even add a very small point about racism, where the Cumans troups are shown to have a cleanly ordered camp while the Czech bandits are living like pigs. Yes it’s a small thing, but showing that the Cumans are different from what people say in the game is actually a smart way to depict a racist society without falling into it.

        And in the end I’m confused about the article. Yes, history is never 100% accurate and it’s all about interpretations, that’s a valid point. But then why blame them for not having a 100% accurate setting ? It doesn’t make sense.

        In every science at some point you just pick the most likely theory and roll with it until it’s proved false. We still don’t have a Grand Unified Theory in physics and yet we can still fly planes using a fraction of it that works for that usage.
        In case of history which is less precise than most hard sciences, it’s not surprising that at some point Warhorse had to either fill blanks or make choices between a theory or another and act as if it was the truth. And if their accuracy is “as accurate as we actually know” then it’s fair to say that they aimed for an accurate medieval setting without accusing them of hypocrisy.

        So yeah there’s things game could have done better (and I’m not talking about bugs) and it would be interesting to talk about it. But I feel like most pieces about the game aren’t thoughtful considerations but direct accusations. And that’s tiring.

        And I’m answering after Blastaz because I agree on all the points he makes that I’ve seen in the game too.

        • BobbyDylan says:

          Perfect examples of how RPS is quickly devolving from an amusing game-centric site to one where any game that doesn’t push the political views of these writers are lambasted. I wonder if they Writer will get up in arms about how poor uneducated white southern american men will be portrayed as the villains in FC5. I imagine not.

        • Blastaz says:

          Agree. In his WIT EET said

          “If Kingdom Come existed in a vacuum, the treatment of the Cumans might seem like a meaningful depiction of the othering of outsiders, which might in itself help us to understand characters and the setting. In reality, it’s reasonable to dig deeper into the game’s claims to accuracy in this and other regards now that the whole picture can be seen, and that’s something we’ll be doing.“

          It’s clear that this is a game that certain people have been out to hate on for its representation of representation for quite some time. Now we have the historical hatchet job article it doesn’t actually attack KC:D’s depiction of race, or even of women, but instead makes the claim that “well the historiography of the Middle Ages is all very difficult due to the paucity of written sources, so we should just assume that anything shown is down to authorial intent.” Obviously they have been unable to find anything actually objectionable about the games depiction of the Cumans or modern day “minorities” – sad Eurogamer wasn’t able to loan them the historian they found down the pub…

          It’s an interesting article, that makes a valid point even if I disagree with the rather nihilistic conclusion (even if things are difficult trying is still better than not trying). It’s just transparent why we have this article criticising KCD and not ACO. In the education tour in Alexandria for Origins new history mode they show a classroom of little kids, boys and girls learning together, the narrator says in actuality only boys would be taught but gameplay inclusivity was more important than historical sexism. It’s clear that the same tokenism is being demanded of all entertainment, even when it is known to be a lie.

      • Lord Byte says:

        Oh wow… If you think a woman running a stable after her husband’s death is rebellious, I weep for the women in your future.

        There are thousands if not hundreds of thousands of accounts of women running businesses in the middle-ages. Even with *gasp* living husbands. Guild notes, land-leases, testaments (usually when given to the church or monastery who kept meticulous records). This is exactly why games like this touting “historical accuracy” are so bad, they perpetuate the myths rather than doing their research.

        You got “one” woman doing that in the game… Seriously.

        • Blastaz says:

          Well no actually you have quite a few women running small scale trading stalls. Two standing next to each other in Rattay, the Butcher in ledeneckwhateve, etc. The stable and the women with the renegade silver miners (who are a group of peasants who feel betrayed and thus allowed to be disloyal to their lord) along with the butcher are more important quest NPCs though. Sure their stories are driven by grief and violence but that is more a function of the setting and story and vidyagames, than any comment on gendered violence.

          The problem with pearl clutching complaints of lack of diversity like this is they perpetuate easy myths, rather than do any research by actually playing the game…

  8. bglamb says:

    It’s easy to look at games set in the modern day, which attempt to portray a realistic setting, to see how much difference is made by what you choose to focus on.

    It’s possible to name a hundred different ‘present day’ games with a hundred different themes. Think of Gone Home vs Battlefield 2, or Papers Please vs GTA 5. For any given game, people might ask “Why did you choose to focus on that aspect?”.

    The answer “Because things like this actually happen” feels more like an excuse than the actual reason.

    • MrUnimport says:

      That’s definitely astute. As the article notes, “Right off the bat, it’s clear that KCD’s main interests are politics, war, and material culture (weapons, architecture, etc). (…) The more intangible aspects of life, such as social conduct, creativity, language, religious belief and mentality, aren’t given as much attention. ”

      The question is, is it really a bad thing to make an action video game that places its emphasis on war, politics, and the material? Or is it just a bad thing to claim realism as a selling point while doing so? Are people treating KCD as a historical peasant life simulation? Or as an action game that is set in a vision of a particular time and place?

      • Hedgeclipper says:

        But as the article points out it failed there too – the focus is on war and politics but seems to completely elide the civil-religious conflicts that are about to tear the country apart.

  9. Archonsod says:

    It rather depends on what is meant by realism. As I understand it, KC:D is ‘realistic’ in the sense that it has no elves, wizards or similar fantasy tropes, which is precisely the kind of thing we usually mean when we talk about realism within a game. I don’t think anyone expects it to be absolutely realistic; not only is it physically impossible without some kind of star-trek style holodeck but it wouldn’t make for a particularly good or interesting game to begin with.

    • Hanban says:

      I’d disagree with you there. Having kickstarted the game, what they were talking about when promoting it was more than just “This is not a fantasy game.”

      • ohminus says:

        So what you say is that you wanted a medieval blacksmith simulator? The game artificially introduces drama, but uses a real historical event for that.

        It’s all good and fine to say that Bohemia was a powder keg at that time, the question is: Would the protagonist have noticed? Because we see the world through HIS eyes.

        The only real argument I can see here is that the game does have some hints of sexism. Everything else is just going back to a binary illusion that something is either accurate or it isn’t, with no degrees in between, no aspects that are accurate while others aren’t. Life isn’t binary. To suggest this is no more historical than Skyrim is deluding oneself.

    • shde2e says:

      They were promoting the game as “historically accurate” though, and in that context the phrase “realism” takes on a different meaning than just ditching the fantasy elements. It implies that this is an accurate representation of 15th century Bohemia.

  10. Amake says:

    These claims of “historical accuracy” comes off as no different from the propaganda of any of Europe’s many white supremacist movements that claims to be more “honest” than the democratic establishment – a necessary lie to justify a loathsome agenda.

    And it doesn’t help if you’ve followed personalities like MedievalPoC who have been and continue to be harassed with military determination for explaining that the deliberate choice of the Deliverance devs to exclude all people of color from their game actually has no support in history – the game’s fans acting worrying like those fans of white supremacists in their mob tactics against critics. I suspect there’s a lot of exchange of ideas if not outright collaboration between Warhorse Studios and whatever the Czech Republic has in the vein of UKIP and Front National.

    • tres says:

      Did you forget to take your meds or something?

      • Premium User Badge

        Mikemcn says:

        OP was far more level-headed than the person suggesting he has a problem requiring medication.

    • USER47 says:

      Wow, you guys are getting really quite mental. Seeing that insane militant rhetoric it doesn’t surprise me at all you are mentioning that ridiculous MedievalPoC guy, who tried to prove existence of black people in 15th century Bohemia by showing paintings of biblical Ethiopian queen who might or might not have lived 1000 BC in Africa.:-D

      • Gormongous says:

        You mean the picture of the queen of Sheba produced in Bohemia c.1405, which showed that the artist was fully aware of what a black person looked like? To which, of course, you forgot to add two pictures of Saint Maurice, one of Saint Jerome, a mural by John of Oppava in which most of the characters are black, and a couple of other murals from Prague of black people. MedievalPOC also linked two separate academic monographs that cover ethnic minorities in medieval Bohemia, which I’m sure you tracked down and read.

        See, this is the sad thing about the anti-social justice backlash among Kingdom Come fans. They just hear that the people who disagree with them and critique the game are stupid and wrong, and they take that hearsay at face value. My recommendation? Do the research, and prepare to be surprised, unlike the developers seem to have been willing to do: link to medievalpoc.tumblr.com

        • Comintern1919 says:

          So much wrong with both your comment, and this ridiculous blog.

          Yes, some medieval people like traveled artists were aware that black people exits, and how they might look like, and were capable of drawing a Black Queen. So? How does that prove anything? There are paintings of Europeans from the 17th Century Japan. That doesn’t mean you’d actually meet any Europeans in 17th Japan. So how does that prove anything about Rural Bohemia.

          And I think you are talking about the paintings in the articles of that blog?

          Okay, let’s analyze the paintings you mentioned:

          Saint Maurice was a 3rd Century Egyptian Christian Missionary. Nothing to do with Bohemia.

          Saint Jerome was an Illyrian Missionary who was born in the area of the modern Balkans in the 4th Century. Again, nothing to do with Bohemia.

          The Painting by John of Opova is of an European Christian Missionary, the white person in the painting, who went to Ethiopia to convert Ethiopians to Christianity. So even less to do with Bohemia.

          So how in the world do any of these paintings prove there were Black People in Rural Bohemia? Just because some Bohemian Artist were capable of painting Black People? That’s just stupid, nothing more.

          You know, it’s as expected as it is sad that people nowadays think Tumblr, TUMBLR of all places, is a good source on, well, anything.

          My advice? Do research outside your echo chamber, don’t trust random tumblr with no real credential, and consult actual researchers specialized in that area and that period, or read some actual books written by actual experts.

          • Binho says:

            How about you actually read the MedievalPOC blog instead of just scrolling through and looking at the images, and being angry about it?

            She has posted references. Here are two, straight from the blog post you didn’t read, about the varied ethnic makeup of Central Europe around this time period:

            Central Europe in the High Middle Ages: Bohemia, Hungary and Poland, c. 900-c. 1300 by Nora Berend, Przemysław Urbańczyk, Przemysław Wiszewski, Chapter 5: Society and Economy (p. 250), and Chapter 7: New developments of the 13th Century (The Mongol Invasion; p. 244).

            East Central Europe in the Middle Ages, 1000-1500 by Jean W Sedlar, Chapter 13: Ethnicity and Nationalism (p. 401)

            Dan Varva, the main Warhorse dev, already had a clear image of how he wanted to depict the period. He only listened to their historian when it suited him. Here is a quote from their only historian (also an art historian) Anna Nowak: “I have tried to provide some details regarding historical figures, but I am not sure, if they have influenced Dan’s image, already painted in his head :)”. Link to source of quote, where she mentions more than once that basically her advice was basically only listened to when it suited the devs: link to forum.kingdomcomerpg.com

            Most of MedievalPOC’s post was actually about Asiatic peoples living in the region (like the Cumans and the Romani), which is extremely well documented. She never claims there was a massive black population in Bohemia at the time, in fact she actually wrote a whole other post addressing people claiming she did:

            link to medievalpoc.tumblr.com

            So how about you do some reading too.

            It’s also worth pointing out that some K:CD backers (me included) did ask if the devs could include a list of references that they consulted, but they said they would not be providing one. Not out of malice, mind. I was genuinely interested, since it’s not a period I’m specialized in as an archaeologist and wanted to know more about. So really, we have no idea what sources they based their interpretation on.

          • upupup says:

            My posts didn’t get through moderation for reasons unclear, so I’ll repost it in separate posts.

            MedievalPoC has no qualifications, misrepresents sources and on the whole does not know what she’s talking about. Here are two badhistory threads discussing why this is.

            link to reddit.com
            link to reddit.com

          • upupup says:

            Here are also several different tumblr posts discussing why she’s not a legitimate source.

            link to cephiedvariable.tumblr.com
            link to thewinddrifter.tumblr.com

          • upupup says:

            And lastly a third tumblr link. I would not recommend tumblr (or reddit) as a source for anything, but since these are the terms she’s arguing on they are applicable here.

            link to angryjewishharpist.tumblr.com

        • baud001 says:

          Perhaps the artist has traveled? You’re someone who knows to read, so you would know they had ships at the time. Or the persons represented traveled there.
          But the number of PoC in Bohemia was small enough at the time that having no one in a game does not seem that big an oversight. Or would you have preferred a token PoC?

        • gerryq says:

          The Queen of Sheba in that painting has long blonde hair. So no, the artist didn’t actually know what black people looked like.

        • adammtlx says:

          And yet, pro-social justice history writer Mike Stuchbery thinks the notion that we’d see a black person in the tiny area depicted in the game during the time period in question is ludicrous.

          link to threadreaderapp.com

          It’s almost as if there’s clearly no consensus on the topic, so the suggestion that we should then by default depict black people, artists’ intentions be damned (and call them racist if they fail to do so), is similarly ludicrous.

        • Zmobie says:

          Um, there were europeans in Japan during the 17th century. Even though the country was “closed” until Matthew Perry used gunship diplomacy to open it up in 1854, the dutch had had a trading post in Japan and been trading with them ever since 1609.

      • DodgyG33za says:

        Its not Bohemia, but take a look at the wiki page for the Brotherhood of Blackheads. Their coat of arms really surprised me when I chanced upon it on a visit to the Baltic states a couple of years ago.

        Other than that, I think I am going to leave this discussion well alone.

    • Gomer_Pyle says:

      I am not sure if this is serious or … ?

    • Amake says:

      If five more completely random people tell me how stupid and mentally ill I am to suggest there is an organized campaign working to silence critics of this game, I’m sure that will get the point across.

      • baud001 says:

        I don’t think the campaign to silence critics of this game is working…

        • Amake says:

          You could tell that to medievalpoc dot tumblr dot com. Except she has had to block all venues of contacting her directly because of people like you.

          • baud001 says:

            I’ll quote someone else in the comments: “That someone is harassed, as unpleasant as that is, does not make their argument less or more valid.”

            Secondly if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen and that what she did.

            Thirdly, I think that bringing politics (as in pointing fingers toward parties) can only bring down the quality of the discussion, so rest assured that you participated in the shit show just as well as me.

      • shde2e says:

        For what it’s worth, I agree with you and you sound like a very sensible, rational person.

        I’m not sure how much of this is an organized campaign and how much the verbal internet equivalent of a lynch mob, but there are definitely a lot of people defending this games flaws with some very shaky and deflective arguments.

        As well as a bunch of doodoo-heads who cannot hold a normal discussion.

    • baud001 says:

      more “honest” than the democratic establishment

      And you would call the current “democratic” establihement honest?

    • WTell says:

      In medieval and ancient times colour was used to convey a message not as a portrayal of a person’s true appearance. Most people couldn’t read, so messages were visual. So much so that for the rich and famous they used a formal graphic control mechanism known as Heraldry. We use trademarks today. Many people today view the black images as proof that certain people were black Africans. Why? Because no-one has ever explained it to them. So they substitute something that fits their world view or “Weltanschauung”. Black simply meant that the person underwent death, suffering or martyrdom.
      Why is this known today? Because the practice continues on in the iconography of the Byzantine church. It’s why monks wear a set colour robe. It’s why they study Symbology. It’s why the Christian host is round. It’s why red was the colour worn by the Roman legions.
      Yet there are plenty of videos on youtube of African-Americans dressed up as Christian saints in the belief the saints were black Africans. St Maurice of the Theban Legion is an example. He is often painted with black skin. That’s because he was a martyr. People then argue that he came from Thebes in Egypt. This actually meant he was stationed in the garrison at Thebes and due to Roman practice of soldier relocation, it’s more likely he was born elsewhere. But no-one knows if he actually existed or not.

      Regarding the peasants in KCD, in this period they were still killing people for being werewolves. A werewolf was someone risen from the dead. Wolves used to dig up corpses and many peasants interpreted this sight as the person rising and taking the form a wolf. There is one example of a shepherd being held down and staked through the heart. He told an old person that he didn’t look too well. The old person died. The shepherd was accused of prophesying death, so they killed him. These people were superstitious.

      The horses in KCD are just motor vehicles. They don’t need feed, water. shoeing or protection from the elements. And they can run miles without pause. Horses like that today would win the Grand National by the length of the straight.

      Swearing the way they do in the game would lower your reputation to the lowest level. It was a mortal sin and you could run foul of the law, the Church or the Inquisition.

      • upupup says:

        This is a big problem with people interpreting old paintings and iconography without being trained in what they are meant to portray, as the visual elements used were highly symbolic and ‘realistic’ the way art can be viewed from a modern perspective. It’s where the idea comes from that people back then didn’t know how to paint or draw due to how odd their images look from our perspective.

    • upupup says:

      That someone is harassed, as unpleasant as that is, does not make their argument less or more valid. The only thing that matters is the argumentation, not whether they are hated or loved. To think otherwise belongs squarely in the camp of conspiracy theorists.

      If there’s evidence that there’s a targeted attempt by the developers in cooperation with other parties to silence critics, no matter who they are, of this game than this should absolutely be reported on. However, if there’s no proof of this then leveling those accusations is grossly irresponsible, same as anyone suggesting that there is a targeted attempt to discredit the game would need to show evidence of this. Without that, there is no reason to take harassment as something that is part of a greater strategy.

  11. thetruegentleman says:

    1. “God be with you” and the like really was extremely pervasive in Eastern Europe, and is still a thing even now. It’s a real thing, not a cynical modern addition.

    2. You wouldn’t find very many open dissidents out in the countryside: that would be limited to the larger cities in general, and Prague in particular.

    3. The bit with the Cumans *is* a bit strange; they would probably be no more than a minor force by the time of the game, and even then would have almost certainly been more or less fully integrated into society.

    • USER47 says:

      I guess they might have gone with Cumans for a bit of visual distinction, as they also gave them quite exotic armors and such. I guess it would be a bit more chaotic and less interesting if friendly and enemy forces were dressed and armored pretty much the same throughout the game.

    • Zorgulon says:

      1. I think the issue is that throwing in an archaic idiom or two, regardless of how accurate it may be, is a lazy shorthand for “we are in the Middle Ages now”, and is a fairly weak method of trying to characterise people from the past.

      2. What is this based on? I don’t know anything specifically about the Hussite uprising, but revolutions frequently enjoy (and indeed, depend upon) support in rural areas, from the rise of the Almohad Caliphate to the French Revolution.

      • USER47 says:

        1) It’s not really much of an archaism. References to god in greetings are extremely common in whole central and eastern Europe even today, despite for example Czech Republic being mostly atheist country.

        2) Jan Hus was mostly active in the capitol, since he was teaching on the Prague University and preaching in one of the Prague chappels. A lot of the later outrage came from Prague university circles, but the whole thing really erupted only few years after Hus was burned (1415). The actual hussite wars started around 15 years after the game takes place, so it makes sense the game doesn’t really spend much time with this.

        • Rosveen says:

          1) Can confirm as a Pole. As a child I was taught “z Bogiem” (“with God”, it’s probably short for “go with God”) as the normal, basic way of saying goodbye to family members. I used it for years until I grew up to be an atheist and realized what I’m actually saying, then decided to stop. We also used “pochwalony” (“praised”, short for “praised be Jesus Christ”) as a greeting.

          I rarely hear it nowadays from people who aren’t priests/nuns, but it’s what I learned when I was young and it still sounds completely normal to me. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if it was the same in Czechia.

      • baud001 says:

        For the French Revolution, you’re all wrong. The revolution started in Paris (Storming of the Bastille, the people’s march from Paris to Versailles, bringing the King back to Paris, storming the royal Palace of the Tuileries in Paris…); even more in the rural areas, it was a counter-revolution (see War in the Vendée).

        Of course there are other revolutions in France which began in the country.

        • Zorgulon says:

          A lot of focus of course goes to the events in Paris, and the Vendée was indeed counter-revolutionary. But it is not true to generalise this to the entire rural majority of France. The earliest stages of the revolution, and the abolition of feudalism in particular came about with the help of peasant uprisings across France during the Great Fear. The French Revolution did not begin and end in the cities.

          • baud001 says:

            Good points, thank you for your corrections. But I still think that the cities were the primary drivers of the revolution and without what happened there, there wouldn’t have been so much change.

    • ohminus says:

      “The Cumans that settled in Hungary had their own self-government in a territory that bore their name, Kunság, that survived until the 19th century. … The Cumans were organized into four tribes in Hungary: Kolbasz/Olas in upper Cumania around Karcag and the other three in lower Cumania.

      The Cuman language disappeared from Hungary in the 17th or 18th centuries, possibly following the Turkish occupation. ”

      link to en.wikipedia.org

      They certainly did become more settled in their ways and abandoned their nomadic ways, but they had autonomy and preserved other parts of their culture. And they did serve as mercenaries to the Kings of Hungary.

  12. ohminus says:

    I’m afraid the article is marred by its simply throwing everything into one put, giving it a good stir and then suggesting it’s all the same. It’s an article an article lost just as much in a fools’ errand search for a binary world where degrees don’t matter.

    Skyrim deals in tropes front, left and center. It’s also a game by a US studio for which a lot of the “historical elements” they are peddling ARE likely more myth and legend than real history. Conversely, KC:D is a game by a European studio set in the home country of that studio, with a crew that necessarily has an entirely different relationship to the setting.

    Is KC:D 100% historically accurate? Hardly. And I argue that a game that was would likely not be very appealing. It certainly cuts corners to present a story, and it certainly IS in parts somewhat sexist.

    But to suggest there is little difference to Skyrim is like suggesting that Disney’s Hunchback of Notre Dame and Hugo’s original are functionally the same and Hugo can make no more claim to providing a realistic vision of France than Disney studios…

    Degrees matter, and blaming a game for not catering to one’s desire for a black-and-white world is scapegoating someone else for one’s own failures.

  13. Michael Fogg says:

    I think it’s important to note that the game never attempts any paradigm shift in our view of medieval times. It follows a conventional historical adventure structure and uses the authentic flavour as a means to stand out and hold the player’s attention. So a lot of the critique here seems aimed at stuff the developers never set out to do or even advertised in their game. I’m not really sure if KCD’s portrayal of peasant society is entirely harmonious when one of the first quests involves the famous manuring of a guy’s house over an ethnic/cultural quarrel.

  14. calibro says:

    I guess gaming journalists really do know a lot more about Czech history than a bunch of Czech historians listed in KC:D credits (with PhD degrees and such) huh?

    • Mud says:

      It’s baffling, isn’t it?

    • Zorgulon says:

      I would be extremely surprised if the advice of historical advisors was the dominant creative direction behind this game.

      • maninahat says:

        I mean, come on, even Braveheart and The Patriot had historical advisors. Their input is seemingly none existent and their primary purpose is to give the project a thin veneer of authenticity to coat over their kickass battles and manly heroes.

    • bglamb says:

      Everyone knows Medieval Czechs loved fetch-quests, c’mon.

    • Gomer_Pyle says:

      But they always have links to Wiki for conflicts they only just heard about … of course they know what they’re talking about!

    • Binho says:

      They only had one historian, who was only listened too when they wanted to. In her Weekly Torch interview she mentions more than once that Dan had his own political ideas about the period, and was set on them. And she is Polish, and not a specialist in Czech history or archaeology:

      link to forum.kingdomcomerpg.com

    • SaintAn says:

      They’re bloggers, not journalists. The two aren’t the same.

      • Tazer says:

        Except when it’s convenient for them to make a point. I’ve seen “bloggers” flip flop and call them selves journalists, then when you want to hold them accountable for their garbage, they go “Well, I’m not a journalist….”

    • Cederic says:

      I’d hope that a gaming journalist with a BA in history and an MA in medieval studies knows at least something about times past.

      But hey, tell you what: Do a quick search online for details of the peasant uprising and find out if it did in fact happen just after this game is set, or not. I mean, it’s not like you have to trust the journalist, you are capable of conducting your own research. Aren’t you?

  15. Ghostbird says:

    Make no mistake, the refusal to engage with the complexity of actual history is entirely ideological. Right-wing politics is essentially romantic, despite regular appeals to “realism”.

    • Comintern1919 says:

      Make no mistake, the refusal to engage with the complexity of actual history is entirely ideological. Right-wing politics is essentially romantic, despite regular appeals to “realism”.

      Where is anyone refusing to engage? I’ve already seen tons of people on both sides discussion this topic. I vehemently fall on the side of the dev, because every evidence that I’ve seen point to the side of the Dev, and none to the side of it’s opponents, but still, all sides already had very deep discussions.

  16. mordgan says:

    I created an account just to comment this.
    Come on Andreas, for how much time you’ll be crying over this game? Srsly.

    First of all. Ok, maybe there are gaps in history, but then again, let’s forget everything we studied at school because is not trustworthy. Oh, and the historical movies too, the action ones and the documentaries… beacause yeah… There’s no way to be certain, right? So let’s not consider anything being historical, ALL FANTASY. Is this real life or just fantasy? I don’t know Freddie…

    But, let’s focus on the game. It’s funny, because the guys from Warhorse consulted real historians and made vast research about the time period and you come here and show us Wikipedia reference and talk shit about the game. Yeah.

    Hardly the game is 100% accurate. But how can something be 100% accurate? It’s accurate enough to learn.

    I just can’t understand all the bitching about the game. You took this one for Christ (crucifying it). Is it just because the history sources they used revealed that there weren’t black men in Bohemia? Or is it because of the “sexism”? It’s a f!@$#%g game. JUST A GAME. Play it, enjoy it or don’t. Just quit bitching about it.

    This politically correct culture we’re living now makes me sad.

    • Leafy Twigs says:

      Your histrionics are amusing. For a piece of art in any other medium, this sort of article would be unremarkable. People would still argue whether or not the article’s premise was correct, but they wouldn’t worry about the existence of the article itself. This type of discussion is natural for books, movies, series. Why not games too?

      What’s especially amusing about your post is how you’re attempting to impose your own form of “political correctness”. You’re have no substantial points to refute the premise, so you’re just yelling “shut up!” because discussions of this type trigger you.

      • Cerulean Shaman says:

        Yeah, but your suggestion that it’s any better in those other forms of entertainment is itself another problem. I hate this kind of thing for movies, novels, and series too. While these pieces of art can have political influences (just like historical and social ones) and CAN be used as a political platform (ANYTHING can) it’s very rare that this is ever the primary reason for an artform like a movie or a video game.

        They’re primarily pieces of entertainment.

        For a lot of us, that’s all we want. ENTERTAINMENT. That makes it incredibly annoying when people don’t talk about the merits of its ability to deliver entertainment but instead the political aura they made up for it. It means actual discussion about the game as a game or movie as a movie falls flat and discourages a lot of us from joining in out of annoyance and disinterest.

        That’s why he’s becoming upset. These discussions are also influencing developers to make silly choices in some cases. Luna’s partially complete story in FFXV was cut out due to exaggerated fear of SJWs (the devs said this themselves, though they didn’t use the term SJW) leaving her with laughably few scenes and an ending I literally laughed at despite her fate.

        So yeah, he has as much right to complain about the content of these “discussions” as you do, and belittling him for it doesn’t say much about you.

      • mordgan says:

        Dude,
        I’m not imposing any politically correct stuff to anyone, I couldn’t give less of a shit to that.
        Thing is, this article is useless. It’s obvious that they can’t recreate a 100% accurate content. It’s like raining in the wet. However, I don’t know why, but RPS don’t give a shit about the game itself. In their “review” of the game they didn’t say how immersive the game is, or how the performance is or even how the combat feels. They just cared that there isn’t enough “diversity”.
        For some reason, they keep hammering that the Devs of the game suck. Firstly because of diversity, then because of sexism, now because it’s not 100% accurate. And this is exhaustive.
        “There are gaps in the History and nobody can know what actually happened” You don’t say! Really? Thing is, it’s Warhorse’s game, their research, their development. So why can’t they use their data, that they found out to make their game?

        By any means I wanted to be disrepectful, but this kind of article annoys me.

        • BobbyDylan says:

          Well said. RPS is wearing it’s political opinions on it’s sleeve here. If I was even remotely interested in their political opinion I’d have myself lobotomised. I reckon they should just create a new blog called “Political view of Games” and post these hit pieces there. That way we’d all be saved from reading this bullshit.

        • SexyHomie says:

          Pretty much agree. I miss the old days when there was actually discussion about game itself, instead of talking about politics, sexism, racism etc.
          Are games connected with these topics? Yes they are. Is it necessary to nitpick on every little f*cking thing that there is not enough diversity in game? No.
          Game itself might not be completely historicaly accurate, yet there is whole codex dedicated to history in Bohemia, some of these topics are actually quiet interesting.
          Yet for some reason, every article I read about KCD is just about diversity, sexism, lack of historical accuracy etc.
          Seems like I really can’t comprehend behavior of current society. Everyone is yelling and pointing on others, calling them nazis, racists, white supremacists, homophobic, and so on, without any self reflection, just because they disagree with their opinions.
          Stop shoving everyone else your beliefs how important is to have in each game racial diversity, gay or non binary people, and we might actually agree on something, instead of turning whole game community into one huge shitfest.
          Stick to your own beliefs, I am ok with that, but if you call me white supremacists/nazi just because I rather believe that Bohemia at that time was mostly white based, without any background racism agenda, than I don’t think we can find some common ground for discussion.
          I have 0 issues with people of different race, nor gay or trans people, but I don’t think that actually matters, cause people in these days are happy to call you nazi/racist just because you disagree. Pretty sad to be honest.

        • Zorgulon says:

          If only there were any other articles on this site to read.

        • Premium User Badge

          Graham Smith says:

          “In their ‘review’ of the game they didn’t say how immersive the game is, or how the performance is or even how the combat feels. They just cared that there isn’t enough “diversity”.”

          Our review has like three paragraphs dealing with race and sexism in the game and a further twenty talking about everything else.

          On combat:

          “Tethering checkpoints to boozing is fun, but the lack of a quicksave does get annoying. Partly that’s because the game is somewhat prone to crashing at the moment, and partly, it’s because Kingdom Come’s melee combat is as tough as horseshoes. The basics see you angling your weapon with the mouse, then left-clicking to swing and right-clicking to stab. To defend you hold Q, or tap it as your opponent swings to parry and create space for a riposte. Angle your weapon to meet a swing and you’ll block more effectively; conversely, you’ll want to lay into an opponent’s unprotected side to break through their defences. All this burns stamina, and exhausting your stamina isn’t a good idea if you plan on running away.

          It’s a ferociously in-depth system that’s enjoyable to master, but you’ll need to grit your teeth. There are practice arenas at many towns where you can level up individual weapon stats and practice combos. It’s wise to train often, because if you prioritise the story you’ll quickly run into challenging opponents. Quality of equipment naturally counts for a lot, but it’s not just a question of overall defence values: you’ll need to layer gear properly, wearing a nice padded vest under your mail, and patch up any holes in your regalia between scraps. If nothing else, well-kept gear might help you talk your way out of trouble. NPCs judge by appearances as much as eloquence, and anybody whose helmet looks like a colander evidently isn’t much good at protecting himself.”

          We’re broadly not a site for talking about performance unless there are issues, and in this instance we talked about crashes (mentioned in the quote above) as well as other kinds of bugs that arose:

          “There’s a point where Kingdom Come’s rigour loses its novelty, and the game’s rough spots grow more pressing. Some of the milder hiccups are delightful in that usual open worldy fashion – at one point I beat a man senseless and stole his clothes, only for him to greet me gaily on the road a few moments later. Less forgivably, there are quirks like NPCs refusing to loose their remaining arrows in an archery competition, forcing you to throw the tournament. The landscape can also be unruly when you stray off-road. You’ll encounter fences topped with invisible walls, and hedges that spurn your advances where others pose no barrier – worse, you might end up trapped in one.”

          We might not use the word “immersion”, because it’s broad and woolly and means different things to different people, but we did touch on it in the conclusion. “The measure of an open world is ultimately not the story it tells but whether you’re happy to kill time within it, and Kingdom Come: Deliverance offers plenty of ways to do that, even if a lot of them will, in fact, get you slaughtered.”

          We prefer to be more specific than just “immersion” though. We talk about how the game never or rarely gives you simple fetch quests, we talk about the complexities and satisfactions of the alchemy system, and other unusual complications the quests throw at you like needing to learn to read. We criticise the game’s repetitive attempts at ‘dynamic’ storytelling. We talk about the good breadth and variety of quests. We talk about perks and skill trees, combos and special moves, and traits. We criticise the lack of quicksave. We delve into the story for being a bit too soap opera. We talk about the survival mechanics like the need to eat and drink…

          If you disagree with our opinions, that’s fine, but the idea that talking about one subject means we’re ignoring another is just nonsense.

          • H. Vetinari says:

            Our review has like three paragraphs dealing with race and sexism

            that’s three paragraphs to many. only racists and sexists deal with race and sexism; we normal people don’t give a rats ass about it.

          • Grizzly says:

            There would be a lot of people who are on the recieving end of said sexism and racism who would disagree with you there.

          • shde2e says:

            If you don’t care about a subject, that’s fine. Skip it. But other people do, so unless you want to demand that people can only talk about things you personally approve of, or you have something substantial to the discussion, please just move on with your life.

          • H. Vetinari says:

            There would be a lot of people who are on the recieving end of said sexism and racism who would disagree with you there.

            If you don’t care about a subject, that’s fine. Skip it. But other people do,

            it’s sad to see such racist thoughts on a gaming site – to read comments like these that find race and sex important and not just see a person as a person but have to assign it skin colour and sex like you do. just sad.

          • doglikesparky says:

            H Vet, you really haven’t got a bloody clue, have you?

          • H. Vetinari says:

            @doglikesparky:

            i never really understood racists and sexists like the ones above me and RPS writers that write racists ideas as well.
            I don’t mind them (free speech and all), but it’s just sad.

  17. Umberto Bongo says:

    It’s better to take these claims in ‘game’ terms. Regardless of how successful you think the systems are, or how much you agree with its design choices, KC:D still takes into account the idea of realism and groundedness more than any other RPG I can think of, and the amount of research that has gone into it is clearly undeniable. Does it do it all perfectly? Of course not, far from it. End of the day it’s still a game and they haven’t gotten advanced enough yet to successfully simulate whatever level of realism is acceptable to be free from criticism.

  18. btonasse says:

    Excellent article. Thanks for that. Maybe I will try this game again sometime.

  19. haldolium says:

    RE: “Which book, I wonder? They rarely say.”

    link to amazon.com

  20. TheDandyGiraffe says:

    Thank you for this! Finally, a sensible piece of criticism that goes beyond “some random American historians say there’s a no-zero chance there could have been black people in some of these villages”. You’re absolutely correct about the fetishisation of uniformity and “typicality”, and you’ve quite brilliantly pointed out that this, not the portrayal of Cumans etc., is where the game’s conservative politics actually stem from.

    Anyway, just a minor objection from someone who’s also dabbled a little bit in the history of the Hussite movement:

    In KCD this distrust of priests is shown as something peasants and nobles have in common. The resentments that would soon tear Bohemia apart are paradoxically portrayed as a potential national unifier.

    Well, internal divisions of the movement aside, the distrust of official structures of the church was something the Czech peasants actually had in common with many of their own nobility. The Hussite wars were effectively a prolonged civil war, but the main conflict was between the Czechs and the Germans (or rich Germanised Czechs) rather than between the nobility and peasantry. What I want to say is that from the perspective of the German Empire, it was certainly a war that divided the people; but from a Bohemian point of view, it was more of a popular insurrection. As much as I would love to see the whole history of the Hussite movement in pure class terms (Taborites FTW!), at the end of the day, this fundamental ethnic division cannot be overlooked. So yeah, you could say that the anticlerical attitude you’ve described became the foundation of a freshly-born nation.

    • basilisk says:

      Sorry, but that’s rather inaccurate. The Hussite Revolution is complicated because there were many causes that rolled into one confusing ball of chaos, and while there absolutely were some ethnic tensions at that time (see e.g. the Decree of Kutná Hora, 1409), there’s more to it than that. The communist regime in Czechoslovakia loved the Hussites and tried to portray them as a proto-communist class revolt, and sure, that was also present there to some degree, but at the end of the day, it really was first and foremost about religion. A lot of things were added to the mix later, but religion got the whole thing going. It was a fairly messy event and the interpretation is not easy.

      Also, may I ask what do you mean by a freshly-born nation? I’m sitting here very confused by why would you say that; even if we acknowledge that the concept of “nation” as we understand it doesn’t make much sense in the mediaeval context, the Bohemian/Czech “nation” had had several centuries worth of history by then. Nothing new about it at all.

      • MrUnimport says:

        >The Hussite Revolution is complicated because there were many causes that rolled into one confusing ball of chaos,

        History in a nutshell, isn’t it.

      • TheDandyGiraffe says:

        Of course, if you consider religion a legitimate “reason” for a war (rather than a secondary ideological justification, imposed onto an otherwise socially and politically motivated conflict), then yeah, the Hussite wars were primarily “about religion”. But I don’t think many people subscribe to this vision of history today. The foundational demand of the Hussite movement, that is, that the structures of the Church become more egalitarian and open to the people, with more democratic and common-sense liturgical forms, and new active measures to combat the corruption of the centralised ecclesiastical structure, had more to do with class struggle than any abstract theological debates. What I tried to say in the previous post is that the ethnic and cultural tensions in Bohemia at this time were closely aligned with the main lines of class division: with the Czech segments of the merchant class and nobility (traditionally poorer than their German and Germanised counterparts) eager to ally themselves with the broad popular revolt (at least until the Ultraquist betrayal). The history of Europe, as well as all history, is after all the history of class struggle rather than various denominations fighting over who has the “right” idea of God.

        As for the “nation” thing, I don’t think you can really talk about “medieval nations” in Europe, at least not in the sense of “German people”, “Czech people” etc.; the national identity was something that existed only among the nobility (and maybe, sometimes, the upper echelons of the merchant class). Basically, there were no “nations” before an idea emerged that there is a unique connection based on the culture and language of the land that can somehow override (or at least diminish the importance of) the basic class and caste divisions within any given society. For the Czech people, as far as I know, this narrative emerged during the Hussite wars; for the English and the French it’s usually assumed that the foundation of their respective parliaments was such a moment; for the Poles, for instance, it happened much much later, but that’s another story.

        • basilisk says:

          I get you, but I think you’re looking at it from too contemporary a perspective. Hus, for example, was not burned at stake for class reasons, but for religious reasons. Back in those days, religion mattered far more than it does today, and he genuinely died for his beliefs. I’m not saying class did not play a role in the whole chaos that ensued, in fact, I explicitly said it did, but reducing it to a class struggle is a mistake – and one that was widely supported during the communist years when this was the only permitted interpretation.

          And your point about nationhood is… debatable, to say the least. Yes, of course that the modern concept of nation pretty much dates to the late 18th century and is deeply anachronistic in early 15th, but saying that the national consciousness formed around the Hussite movement is a pretty wild claim. The Hussite wars were to a large extent a civil war, particularly towards the end; it wasn’t quite one “nation” fighting a foreign enemy, but very often you members of the same “nation” fighting each other with some help from abroad. In fact, that’s the main reason why the whole thing was so disastrous for the Czech lands.

          • basilisk says:

            I mean, just look at the Four Articles of Prague, which is the nearest thing we have to a Hussite manifesto – it’s rather difficult to interpret that exclusively through a class struggle lens. There’s a lot of theology involved.

  21. Zorgulon says:

    This was a really interesting article, thank you.

    I would really like to see a historical game that actually tried to move beyond this rather prosaic idea of what the Middle Ages were like and do something interesting.

    • Azmoham says:

      Well the problem with that is this: it would be terribly boring to have a 100% (or even 75%) accurate depiction of a peasant’s life in medieval Europe. The average peasant didn’t really adventure, or go on grand crusades, or become dukes or counts or kings. Historical accuracy, I think, SHOULD come second to the game actually being entertaining. This isn’t to say that we should totally ignore historical fact, just that it may not always be a great idea to gun for total historical accuracy.

      • Hedgeclipper says:

        Well that completely missed the point – you’re arguing you can’t have a realistic modern game because simulating being an accountant would be boring.

      • Zorgulon says:

        Yes, imagine how silly it would have been if I had argued for that.

      • pepperfez says:

        This very article points out how strange and disorienting an accurate rendering of the middle ages would be.

  22. Biggus_Dikkus says:

    there are few dosen books in game on subjects of religion
    there are quest dealing with family of heretics, 3 wannabe witches and Jan Hus style seremon in same village
    Bohemia still has 15 years to get to boiling point in start of this game and at this point deals with different kind of crysis

  23. catscratch says:

    So let me get this straight. You claim that it is impossible to interpret history without bias (which may be true). This game, you claim, represents its creators’ bias and is not an accurate interpretation of history. But if it is impossible to know history without bias, isn’t your own opinion of history based on YOUR bias, and therefore not necessarily correct either? Or do you mean to tell us that other people have biases, but your view of history is unbiased and correct, and you’re fit to judge where they went wrong?

    Here’s my interpretation: KC:D is a game, made by a studio with finite resources. Creating a truly historically correct narrative, complete with all the subtexts and social complexities of the period is something that takes a simply ungodly amount of resources, and is well beyond the scope and ability of anybody but the biggest AAA publishers – and probably, even them. So this game has to, by necessity, simplify and omit, and use game tropes instead of complicated subtexts because it is A GAME. Yes, it’s a bit more accurate than your average game, but it’s as accurate as its resources will allow.

    Also, let us not forget that this isn’t an American game. It’s a product of a different culture. Thus, if you’re gonna judge the moral qualities of this game and its creators, then you need to judge them through the lens of the creators’ culture. You claim this game is essentially portraying history through a lens of patriarchy – aren’t you judging this game through a lens of Americanism? America’s current obsessions with patriarchial oppression, diversity, and equality are something other cultures don’t necessarily share or look at the same way.

    In the end, I don’t come here for politics, I come here for gaming news, reviews, and commentary. Seeing the site pushing a particular political narrative really makes me want to come back less and less, and long-term, that can’t be good for business. Stick to games, and leave the politics at the door.

    • Leafy Twigs says:

      I hope you know this isn’t an American site. And RPS has always had nuanced discussion of games. If you would rather have games discussed as purely mechanical toys, and not as art, IGN is still around. You can also find youtubers who will spend their entire review talking about refresh rates. Perhaps you’d be happier with those more simplistic views on gaming which will never challenge you.

    • Sian says:

      So let me get this straight. You claim that it is impossible to interpret history without bias (which may be true). This game, you claim, represents its creators’ bias and is not an accurate interpretation of history. But if it is impossible to know history without bias, isn’t your own opinion of history based on YOUR bias, and therefore not necessarily correct either? Or do you mean to tell us that other people have biases, but your view of history is unbiased and correct, and you’re fit to judge where they went wrong?

      That’s rather moot as the aim of the article wasn’t to correct mistakes in the game but rather to say that it’s impossible to be historically accurate and then bring up some examples. ‘s right in the title, you know.

      • ohminus says:

        It’s also moot to criticise that, since pretending like you can’t get some points accurate and thus increase the overall degree of accuracy is silly. The suggestion in the article that Skyrim is in any way comparable is plain ridiculous. The article even acknowledges that the game gets material aspects right to a significant degree. It just likes to pretend that that wouldn’t make the whole thing more accurate than others.

  24. BaronKreight says:

    In other words it’s a video game. Some can find it a bit boring, monotonous and tedious. Others enjoy riding a horse on a deserted road in the middle of nowhere for several minutes. To each his own.

  25. Zephro says:

    Great article that grapples with how History actually functions in reality. I guess the devs brought this on themselves somewhat with an attitude of it being objective somehow. Just letting it fly under the radar as Skyrim minus Dragons and nobody would have passed comment.

    Interesting it passes up on the Hussites pretty much as that’s pretty much the only thing I know specifically about medieval Bohemia.

    • USER47 says:

      Hussites weren’t really a thing for another 15+ years. During the events of the game, Hus was still preaching in Prague and being a dean on Prague university.

  26. socratesplayingtetris says:

    There are entire quest points and player actions based on Jan Hus (you have to preach in his style), and there is a book on the Adamites. There is a quest in the game about the Waldesians which contains a female character who is a religious fanatic and whom her husband cannot control even though it means their death. The author is clearly ideologically possessed as the criticisms levelled are not even valid. Or perhaps he just hasn’t played the game. I’ve learned plenty of stuff from the in game codex, and none of it strikes me as ideological.

  27. Bladderfish says:

    This would have been an okay-ish article, albeit full of ridiculous assertions, if you’d asked the developers to retort. Without that, it’s just an ill-informed opinion piece.

    I mean, obviously this isn’t the place to go into a deep diatribe on the vagaries of historical consensus. With that in mind, the only way to reach any sort of proof is to ask a question and get an answer. This article is questions without answers.

    Although I’m not surprised by that at all after the Rimworld hit-piece.

    • Zephro says:

      I mean an article on RPS isn’t really related to proofs of any kind. But ignoring that for a moment what other kind of journalism has this standard of reply for everything?

      As elsewhere it’s only used for particular kinds of article. Usually as a reply to specific accusations of wrong doing. Film reviews for instance never have a right of reply for the director, as that would be bloody weird. Plenty of important political journalism goes by without reply.

      • Bladderfish says:

        Fair point. Many opinions are given without response, professionally and otherwise.

        Still, having a response would improve the article immeasurably. And no one in their right mind would argue that. Opinion pieces, especially those given by people unversed in the subject matter, are fundamentally pointless.

  28. Biggus_Dikkus says:

    what is lack of children in game has to do with historical accuracy?
    Besides what other games with same rating have children in them

    • riedlj says:

      Well, children are everywhere in everytime, and if you don’t see them how realistic or historically accurate can it be? I think this article is spot on. The makers of the game had a vision of medieval reality supported by some historical sources and also strengthened by their own biases. They went with that limited and biased perspective and therefore it reflects those biases and whatever research they did. It by no means makes their game a definitive model for medieval life, society, culture or anything else. The best researched part of this game is as the author stated, politics, war and material culture. Beyond that it is as much fantasy as Skyrim.

      • baud001 says:

        I think they chose not to add children in the game to avoid making them invincible (since killing children is a big no-no in media). And it would allow them to save ressources to pour into more deserving sectors, like naming their skills (alpha male, anyone?)

        • shde2e says:

          Which is a perfectly legitimate design choice.

          But that does mean that they sacrificed a (not insignificant) part of the “historical accuracy” they keep promoting their game with.
          Which brings up the question of what else was lost or unfulfilled during the development process.

    • Premium User Badge

      Mikemcn says:

      The author is pointing out how despite claims of “realism” KCD makes compromises, and yet somehow can’t compromise on much bigger things, like representation of groups besides white dudes.

      • Biggus_Dikkus says:

        so devs need to include token characters to get your decency approval?

        • Premium User Badge

          Mikemcn says:

          if they’re going to paint themselves as realistic they need to represent what was really there. Racial and ethnic groups besides white bohemians were present and so were children. The excuse of “history” was used to exclude minority groups, why wasn’t the same excuse used for kids? It seems to be because the devs are capturing something not historically true and rather are highlighting what they prefer in history.

          • ohminus says:

            Sorry, but hopping onto the “minorities” bandwagon only underscores that you do not understand how evidence works. The fact that there were minority people in the area does not mean that any sampling of a subpopulation would have included them. You are arguing purely qualitatively, which is unfit to provide a real argument. We’re not seeing the whole population of Bohemia.

            The whole debate on this issue is more one of pandering to cultural sensitivities of certain markets. Vavra may be a racist a*******, but that doesn’t mean that every accusation against the game is valid. Most members of other ethnic groups would have been in Prague. The towns in the game are minuscule even today. They are downsized further by the scale of the game. Unless you can show a substantial percentage of the rural population of Bohemia at the time had a non-white ethnicity, the argument is moot, because it’s a simple issue of sampling. If two in 500 people are, say, black, and you see 100 people, chances are greater that you’re not seeing a black person than that you are seeing one. Never mind that there are black people. We assumed there are two in 500. But the sample you are looking at is just not large enough to expect to see one of them.

          • Tracystiger says:

            Oh God, I have actually studied medieval history of Bohemia because I live there and have to laugh every time someone uses “probably” when casualy throwing heaps of PoC around. Well… The very first group of gypsies seen in Bohemia came in 1417 and it was so memorable, that it was written in chronicles. “Moors” were well known, and Jan Hus (the radical preacher) read Quaran, but nobody outside Prague has ever seen a dark skinned person (the closest to this idela got Spaniards from Al Andalus serving at the kings court). In the whole history of the country prior 19. cetnury there is exactly ONE documented body of a black person – a skull from 9th century (a man, who joined a christian mission of saints Kyrilos and Methodius from Byzantine empire). Bohemia is not Brittain or Spain. I undertand, nobody cared until now and there is very few sources in english. But dear friend ignorance is not a virtue

        • Sandepande says:

          If they claim realism as a selling point then preferably, yes. Helps with the immersion.

        • Sandepande says:

          Also, are children really “token characters”? Just because they aren’t particularly effective against armoured troops, doesn’t mean they aren’t important ESPECIALLY as characters in a story, at the very least as providers of motivation. Kids tend to be kind of important to some people, not least to those who need things like heirs…

      • Azmoham says:

        I really don’t know where this idea of ‘there were TONNES of black people in Medieval Europe’ comes from but I’m VERY much in doubt of its reality. Medieval people of just about any culture, caste and race were less prone to move about than we are today, thus meaning that it’s kinda improbable that there’d be some guy from say…Nubia just hanging out in Medieval Bohemia.

        • Binho says:

          Anti-social justice and Gamergate people made it up, quite simply. Here is the actual post that started it:

          link to medievalpoc.tumblr.com

          There are no claims of a massive black population. Just a discussion of black people represented in a period art, and then a discussion of the Asiatic populations present in the region (with sources). She does claim in later posts that there were likely black people around (for example, we have solid evidence of black African retainers in at least one German court in the 1200’s link to jstor.org )

          Here’s all her posts on the subject of K:CD:

          link to medievalpoc.tumblr.com

          Her points are entirely reasonable to me, and I backed the game. Unlike the K:CD devs, she has actually provided the sources for her claims, and isn’t just making claims to authority.

          Really, I think the most telling thing about this whole debacle is people’s reactions to the mere *suggestion* of people of color in Medieval Europe, despite good evidence that they existed. There have been way more claims by white people about their presence in other regions of the world than the other way around, many of them unsupported or based on little evidence or sometimes just pure racist ideology (like the Soultrean hypothesis, favorite of many American white supremacists).

          • MrUnimport says:

            >Really, I think the most telling thing about this whole debacle is people’s reactions to the mere *suggestion* of people of color in Medieval Europe,

            This is the part I find the most personally aggravating. Every time I see someone vaguely imply that anyone who disagrees with them is a secret white supremacist I start to lose faith in the whole concept of talking about history. I don’t think the bulk of people are trying to CENSOR evidence of non-white individuals in medieval Europe (why would they do such a thing? Do you really think racial purity is that high on anyone’s list, or that if it were it would be unacceptably polluted by a handful of individuals?), they’re just concerned that modern-day values like representation are exerting a distorting influence over our pictures of the past. We shouldn’t FEAR depictions of the past as a decidedly non-progressive and pre-modern place. That’s why we changed it, after all. To depict medieval Europe as being overwhelmingly white is not to ‘romanticize’ it.

          • upupup says:

            My post didn’t get through moderation for reasons that are unclear, so I’ll repost it in separate posts.

            MedievalPoC has no qualifications, misrepresents sources and on the whole does not know what she’s talking about. She is a blogger, not a scholar. There is no hidden truth being uncovered here. That she faced harassment over this is not acceptable, but this does not suggest that an uncomfortable truth was touched on that people want to see suppressed. That idea belongs squarely in the corner of conspiracy theorists, anti-vaccers, religious extremists and their assorted ilk. All that counts is her argumentation and the evidence, which do not hold up to scrutiny. Here are two badhistory threads discussing why this is.

            link to reddit.com
            link to reddit.com

          • upupup says:

            Here are also several different tumblr posts discussing why she’s not a legitimate source.

            link to cephiedvariable.tumblr.com
            link to thewinddrifter.tumblr.com

          • upupup says:

            And lastly a third tumblr link. I would not recommend tumblr (or reddit) as a source for anything, but since these are the terms she’s arguing on they are applicable here.

            link to angryjewishharpist.tumblr.com

          • Tracystiger says:

            OK, I will repost my own bit since I have already replyed to a different thread. Nope, no coloured minorities in central Europe in 1403. The very first group of gypsies seen in Bohemia came in 1417 and it was so memorable, that it was written in chronicles. “Moors” were well known, and Jan Hus (the radical preacher) read Quaran, but nobody outside Prague has ever seen a dark skinned person (the closest to this idela got Spaniards from Al Andalus serving at the kings court). In the whole history of the country prior 19. cetnury there is exactly ONE documented body of a black person – a skull from 9th century (a man, who joined a christian mission of saints Kyrilos and Methodius from Byzantine empire). Bohemia is not Brittain or Spain. I undertand, nobody cared until now and there is very few sources in english.

  29. Premium User Badge

    Mikemcn says:

    Great article! The edgelord culture that has formed around this game had really turned me off of buying it, and as someone who is an ardent Mount and Blade fan it bums me out.

    Realism can be good, historicity can be good, but when a developer says basically that there are no major nonwhite characters/groups in the game (other than as enemies to murder.) because that’s “history”. They’re not acting in goodfaith, history is full of unlikely encounters, and every society of people ever has found people to persecute because of their superficial differences, tell those stories. Emphasize why the racism of the medieval era was so pervasive and evil. Use your giant videogame as a platform for asserting how society can and should do better. It’s just common decency.

    • Cerulean Shaman says:

      No, it’s just a video game. There are numerous platforms to stand on and tout your politics and beliefs. Video games shouldn’t be one of them unless it’s the core point you’re driving home.

      • Sandepande says:

        Politics are everywhere, and story-based games are not exempt of that. It might not be the “core”, but it certainly shows through. Partially because one has to choose how the game progresses and what are your options.

      • RabbitIslandHermit says:

        Or, you know, video games are a medium to be taken as seriously as any other and the parade of idiots demanding game criticism be restricted to bugs, graphics, and FOV sliders should kindly spare us the outrage over the simple observation that politics exists everywhere and in art.

        • doglikesparky says:

          This. So much this. That gaming now attracts serious critique beyond the mere technical or spectacle shows how it has grown up as a medium. That so many gamers haven’t is the real problem.

          The irony is that they moan about the politicisation of games, whilst happily consuming games that are so obviously overt propaganda for Western imperialism / capitalism / militarism / cultural hegemony.

          What they really don’t like is that games are a democratic medium and *other* people now have a voice.

          • upupup says:

            Games are not a democratic medium. That is the point. It’s part of why videogames are a tool of expressing ideas that the majority may not approve of, especially in the indie scene, such as in Indonesia, Singapore or Iran. It is a new and vibrant mode of expression that allows for the exploration of art and ideas that has up until now been impossible. The room that this offers everyone is to explore their art as they see fit, not to try and tell others that they are morally obligated to practice theirs in ways that they approve of. There’s a good reason why art exists for the sake of art and not as a representative of the artist, which living for any time in a society where being perceived as saying the wrong thing can have dire consequences for you and those close to you, will teach you.

            The critique offered above is not a serious one, no more than a rehashing of certain academic points argued poorly. Actual critiques that treat videogames as an artform are still in their infancy and face the difficulty of requiring a very different vocabulary than the ones used for more ´conventional´ mediums, which is rather fascinating.

    • Comintern1919 says:

      That last part is stupid. Can’t there be games that don’t shove some kind of 21st Century Progressive Value into our throats?

      How is that even possible if they want to portray Medieval Society as accurate as possible? Sorry to say, but the Middle Ages weren’t progressive, and to have a progressive message would be terrible.

      And when they say there are no Non-White People in the game because history, well, they aren’t entirely wrong. Of course, since Vavra claimed there were no White People, he corrected himself and correctly stated that the likelihood of meeting any non-White (non-Turkish-Asiatic) Person would be so low, it would be more strange to include them. Which it would. Like it or not.

      • Premium User Badge

        Mikemcn says:

        “That last part is stupid. Can’t there be games that don’t shove some kind of 21st Century Progressive Value into our throat”

        90% of games are this? Like literally the entire medium is a place where every other release is a game about blowing up waves of enemies and nothing else, or jumping on things. Did you start playing games this year?

        And including people of different colors and races isn’t a 21st century progressive value, my parents taught me to welcome others way back in the 20th century, it’s just a shame we haven’t come very far. Stop being scared of people trying to be inclusive and think about why you are, why you need a game that is safe from “progressive values” such as the equality of all races.

        • Comintern1919 says:

          What is wrong with you? Sorry, but really? What of my comment makes you imply I am somehow scared of people being inclusive? Or that I need to be “safe” from something like Equality of all Races?

          Seriously, I consider your comment as an insult.

          “90% of games are this? Like literally the entire medium is a place where every other release is a game about blowing up waves of enemies and nothing else, or jumping on things. Did you start playing games this year?”

          Yes, I know most are. Yet there are people that want every game to have some progressive value, as your first comment implied you want. You wrote “Use your giant videogame as a platform for asserting how society can and should do better. It’s just common decency.”, which clearly implies you want most of not all games to be this way, and I just wrote I disagree and don’t want that.

          I didn’t meant to say most games do already shove progressive values, but that I don’t want them to ever do that and become like this.

          If you didn’t mean it that way, than I apologize for thinking you did, though in that case you have to understand why I would think that based on what you wrote.

          “And including people of different colors and races isn’t a 21st century progressive value, my parents taught me to welcome others way back in the 20th century, it’s just a shame we haven’t come very far. ”

          I didn’t mean that including people of different skin color is a 21st Century Progressive Value, one I don’t want in Games, but the idea that Games and other Media HAVE to include People of all sorts of different Skin Colors.

          No, let me rephrase that. The AMERICAN progressive value that all media, even European Media, HAS to represent the diversity of 21st America, most often by having to include Black People.

          I too grew up learning to be tolerant of Non-White People in the 20th Century, and to include them when possible and making sense. As a German, however, I didn’t grow up learning that everything has to bend to the American Cultural Imperialism with the idea that everything has to reflect the current diversity of the USA.

          “Stop being scared of people trying to be inclusive and think about why you are, why you need a game that is safe from “progressive values” such as the equality of all races.”

          As I mentioned, that is the part which I take as an insult. Please show me where I even implied any of that. Why am I scared of people trying to be inclusive, WHAT?! Because I am against including Black People in a game where having a Black Person would make no sense? Because I am against including Token Black People, or Token anything, for the sake of forced American Diversity?

    • Rosveen says:

      “Emphasize why the racism of the medieval era was so pervasive and evil.”

      Correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m guessing you’re American. In medieval Europe, the social tensions ran along the lines of religion, social class, ethnicity – and by ethnicity I mean different European and Asian backgrounds. This is particularly true in Eastern and Central Europe, where the black-white conflict is a complete non-issue even today (this might be hard to comprehend to Americans, who live and breathe the white-black dichotomy). We fought among ourselves: Czechs, Poles, Russians, Germans, Swedes, various Turkic peoples, most of them white. This was our diversity, these were our conflicts.

      Expecting us to twist our history and our social issues to mirror the modern American view of inclusiveness is not only foolish, it’s insulting. We aren’t Americans, we aren’t even the Brits or the French, who also have their own issues. We’re Central Europeans and our history is different from yours – respect this diversity, don’t try to homogenize all white cultures.

      • Tracystiger says:

        Amen! (the firs good post I have read, that reflects a no-nonsense stand on this ridiculous issue). Thanks for that brother

  30. daniangione says:

    Nice text. I agree with most of it although I also disagree with a lot of things. I think that it’s a similar issue that has already passed through other games that “claim” a somewhat historically accurate setting (like the Assassin’s Creed series) but ultimately ends up being a toned down/biased view on history and an architecture fetish satisfaction. But I also think that this is the doom of every attempt of creating something historically accurate. As stated on the text, there is no way to do that perfectly because there is no such thing as a single, actual truth. History itself is built on educated guesses and biased views and no game (or any other media) will ever reach a point where everyone from every culture and point of view in the world will say “Oh, ok, this seems perfectly accurate”.
    If this can be true even to more modern history (i.e: why no Central Power campaigns in Battlefield 1, I wonder?) imagine history covered by hundreds and hundreds of years.

    And that said, I believe that developers are then “allowed”, in way, to express their views and even their nationality and pride in such works. It’s true that KC:D might be very biased and such, but it is also true that without it I wouldn’t even know anything about medieval Bohemia because it’s something that doesn’t even pass close to history classes if you don’t live there, I guess. And the game did invite me to go to Wikipedia and other sources and read a lot about it, so in a way it does an interesting service of sparking curiosity and bringing new knowledge. Yes, it can also perpetuate “bad” knowledge, especially on the matter of the sanitized, sterile/static social order it presents, but this can be easily undone for the curious minds, I suppose?

    I’m thinking something like Bernard Cornwell and Jan Guillou’s novels, for example. They are, in a way, “founding mythos” of their own countries/nations; Cornwell for Britain/Saxons and Guillou’s Arn stories for Sweden. They’re filled to the brim with “historically accurate” depictions of society and warfare and such but – at the same time – they’re incredibly filled with obvious nationalism and love for their own culture and the creation of those myths and heroes to justify the arisal of their modern culture. This is similar to what KC:D, a czech game that somewhat praises czech history by being very biased to it and its lords and characters, does… And is it wrong?

    So in the end I do agree with mostly everything in this article but I do like the idea of different cultures in the world doing something that we’re SO used to, for example, which are US movies and stories praising themselves, their heroes and super heroes and being absurdly nationalistic – which is basically the western culture standard for decades – but finally giving voices to different cultures. Maybe this is how we should look at it, if we can have so many games and movies with the american flag waving behind heroes and somewhat biased views on history and fiction, why not give the same opportunity to everyone else?
    As long as we’re sharp enough to always understand that no depiction should ever claim to be the right or true one, I think it’s all fair.

    And I do remember Warhorse saying in one of their videos that they try to be as accurate as they can but they also need to make a fun and entertaining game, so I guess that covers most of the “Just a RPG without dragons” part;

    Oh, and just a side note – I don’t entirely agree with this bit:
    “We are intended to experience this medieval world not as a time traveller, but through the eyes of an authentically medieval ‘average Joe’, but the fact that we are able to slip into Henry’s skin without any friction or culture shock should tell you enough.”

    I find myself many times disturbed by the lack of choices that represent what I truly wanted to say or do – but I understand that it’s mostly because Henry would never say or do what I wanted him to. i.e: (MINOR SPOILERS AHEAD) I didn’t want to be “aggressive” to the drunk hammer and tools guy after I found out that he survived and was begging in Rattay, but being nice and just forgiving his debt wasn’t a choice at all. Nor I wanted to be at first a sexist a***ole to the woman looking for job when the bailiff asks for help in Rattay, but although the game allows you to give her a chance you’re “forced” to be like “what? A woman??” at first, and that truly bothered me but I understand that in a way it’s representing Henry as the idiot he probably was.
    So yeah, it’s definitely not so easy to slip into Henry’s shoes. He’s too stupid! :P

    (and just a second note, since we got into sexism, I just wanted to add that other than dialogues and such, which has been the target for many people although they do have “historical excuses” (kinda) I think that blatant sexism is far more evident in other things, game design things that DIDN’T need to be like that, but are nonetheless: for example, here’s one to think about: Have you noticed that many named male characters also have named wives or female family members that you only find out through dialogue – because in the actual game they’re still just generic “Villager”? Like Klara (still named “Batthouse wench”) or the wives of some of the infected people in Merjohed (named just “villager” or the Herb-woman of Uhitz, to name a few… Male characters that are quest relevant, however, are always named. “Curious” design choice, hm?)

    • Grizzly says:

      The difference in responses to this and Assassin’s Creed can partly be explained by differences in games criticism between AC1’s release and now, but also because AC’s approach is entirely different to KC:D’s. AC in-universe history is re-constructed from memories and openly states that it’s own version of history is different because of the factions that exist in that world (Templars!). KC:D’s developers have openly claimed to go towards historical accuracy, whilst AC indicates, in-game, that they’re not being accurate.

      Also, thank you for mentioning Jan Guillou. I am a huge fan of Bernard Cornwell’s work, I gather that Guillou’s style is similar?

    • Zephro says:

      Eh Cornwall isn’t anything to do with national founding myths, well in a nationalistic sense. The historical notes in the books are really clear that they’re just ripping yarns pretty much. If anything he kind of enjoys poking fun at them by having an outsider view the events and take the piss slightly.

    • SanguineAngel says:

      Hey I just wanted to say that your comment was like a breath of fresh, reasonable air.

  31. p53 says:

    Even if KCD is being “a fantasy” game it is still much more serious, far more accurate, more interesting and fresh than the western Skyrim fantasy – repeated over and over again.

    And please – read a little more about Hussite Wars, since for a person form the Eastern Europe – the description in this text of the war origin seems as flat as Skyrim. Even (pardon my French) the Wikipedia states e.g.:
    “The Hussite community included most of the Czech population of the Kingdom of Bohemia and formed a major spontaneous military power. They defeated five consecutive crusades proclaimed against them by the Pope (1420, 1421, 1422, 1427, 1431), and intervened in the wars of neighboring countries”. “The knights and nobles of Bohemia and Moravia, who were in favour of church reform, sent the protestatio Bohemorum to the Council of Constance on 2 September 1415, which condemned the execution of Hus in the strongest language.”
    So in fact the main enemy in the Hussite wars were the outside powers (including the Sigismund of Hungary mentioned in the game) – and Bohemians, both poor and richer, were mostly united against this enemy. The main differences actually broke out among the Hussites, starting in 1422.

    Daniel (this is to Daniel Vavra) – can you guys make a KC sequel about the Hussite wars, please. Some people still need to learn a thing or two about the Czech history…

  32. Dramund says:

    Headline is bait and seems to ask “Why do any historical research ever?! REVISE IT ALL!”

    Article is actually well thought out and TL;DR points out that KC:D has the same historical focus and complexity of a Renaissance Festival.

    At the same time if you dropped a player into the *reality* of how peasants thought at that time, that is, in the author’s words, subjected them to the culture shock, a 500 person mob made of 500 different genders would be picketing the studio headquarters.

    Don’t believe me? Imagine a Hitchcock movie being released today.

  33. july85 says:

    RPS really? I thought you are a serious web.. I do not like Vavra, but KCD proves that it is a good game so wake up and stop with this hate already please. I am from Bohemia and your approach really insults me!

    • Sian says:

      They’re not saying that the game’s bad, just that it’s not as historically accurate as people keep saying and that you simply can’t be historically accurate as your view of history is inevitably tainted by your biases.

      • ohminus says:

        And they’re saying that it’s worthless trying to get anything right, because it all just ends up being fantasy anyway, and there’s no such thing as degrees. Which is rather silly.

    • Cederic says:

      I don’t know Vavra but I thought this was a good article. I’m not sure why you perceive this as hate and I’m confused why you feel this article insults you.

      Perhaps you could explain?

  34. Sandepande says:

    Mayhap there would be less conversation without the silly blunder of calling the game realistic. Historical low fantasy is just fine.

    • Comintern1919 says:

      Nah, Historical Low Fantasy would imply a setting only loosely based on the Real Life Middle Ages. That the game isn’t. It is based an actual events and tries to portray the setting of Medieval Bohemia as accurate as possible. Low Fantasy doesn’t really fit that description.

      • Sandepande says:

        Events are one thing, how the rest of the world is represented is another.

  35. Auldman says:

    It’s game that’s a lot of fun and it’s also a game my friend with a History PhD, with a focus on the medieval period, would probably enjoy. I won’t suggest it to him with the tagline 100% accurate however. I’ll probably pitch it to him the same way I pitched the show “Vikings” as in “It’s a hell of a lot of fun, sorta touches history, but isn’t at all the real thing.” But at the end of the day it’s just a game. A decent stab at medieval atmosphere but missing a lot of the real depth and complexity of the subject and expecting it to do that is futile anyway.

  36. Laurentius says:

    Ah yes. Another one of these. OK, generally speaking most of these points are of course correct, nevertheless thay are presented from this really obnoxious position. Well, did you check your own biases writing that article?
    RPS, you blew it and in a really disgusting way. Why do you assume all Czech are like Vavra. FFS why couldn’t you contact some Czech historian to interview? And same question to you Mr. Inderwildi. Do you really think no one in Prague or Brno speak English?
    This is another article about that game and literally no journalist from the west even tried to contact Czech historians. And you know what? They would probably agree with you for the most part but lack of that speaks of your prejudice. Absolutely bloody disgusting.

  37. SanguineAngel says:

    I’m really struggling with the wave of conversation surrounding the authenticity or accuracy of Kingdom Come. I’m finding the whole thing to be circular, self-congratulatory and almost entirely without any actual discourse. I can’t help myself but read, as history is a topic I’m fond of and Kingdom Come is a game I am fond of, but it’s flipping exhausting.

    I’m usually all for encouraging debate and interchange of ideas but I don’t think I’ve come across many comments or articles that actually seem interested in doing anything other spout their own truth at their audience. I’m not specifically talking about Andreas’ article, which discusses the necessity of interpretation, bias and prioritisation (both regarding presenting a history and developing a game) but generally conversation around the topic feels full of sensationalism, absolutes and dogmatic stances. It’s just sniping everywhere. And now look, I’m at it too

    • MrUnimport says:

      I can sympathize deeply. The state of the discourse is such that people seem less interested in debating yes/no matters of fact and far more interested in attacks on character and imputed cultural allegiance. Again, not directed specifically at Andreas’ article.

      • SanguineAngel says:

        Hey Mr, thanks. It’s surprising to me how comforting it is that someone noticed and sympathizes with me on this one! I appreciate you taking the time to comment.

        Edit: Also surprising – the real desire for comfort around this topic.

    • pepperfez says:

      There’s a general assumption of bad faith that makes discussion impossible. Like, if you question KCD’s historicity then you’re an anti-Czech SJW provocateur, but if you defend it then you’re the kind of person who believes in SJW provocateurs.
      The degree to which, judging by some of the comments here, this game seems to have become some kind of nationalist icon certainly doesn’t help.

    • Matfink says:

      Welcome to the internet/comments section!

  38. SpaceAce says:

    Well then it’s good that the developers are not trying to represent it perfectly. They constantly talk about how they are balancing fun and realism. Honestly I don’t think the point of Kingdom Come is to represent every single NPC as a rebel because it would lower the impact of the players rebellious nature as well as lessen the impact of characters like Godwin. If every single NPC was like “man, i’m not so sure about this whole class/god/culture thing. Maybe I shouldn’t work with that jazz…” It wouldn’t be as interesting and also this is 1403 about 12 years before this war you are talking about happens so its not like every Tom, Dick, and Harry is gearing up for battle. It’s pretty contradictory to say this small province of Bohemia 12 years before conflict about these subjects should be in uproar and is just idealized, especially when talking about bias towards the past and believing it to just be nothing but either peace or conflict. But as we see in Kingdom Come the world is not ideal, it’s far fucking from it. Your entire home town gets burned by Sigismund’s army in the first hour, bandits are everywhere killing and pillaging. Neuhof, Merhojed, and Talmberg all get attacked by basically armies if we speak in relative terms to the Medieval period and feudal lords armies. And you meet bandits learning they are not just baddies for baddies sake but have real reasons that you bring up for why they are Bandits, they are oppressed in the culture and they are these “rebels” as you describe them. I agree with most of this article I just think that you are greatly under-analyzing the game like you haven’t even played it.

  39. Edgewise says:

    Try reading this article from the point of view of someone who hasn’t breathlessly followed the (apparently ongoing) debate over the historical accuracy of Kingdom Come: Deliverance. One gets the feeling that this article is meant to bolster certain arguments and rebut others without presenting clear picture of exactly what the arguments are. I am left with this vague feeling that the debate has something to do with an overly traditional view of medieval society, but the specifics elude me. What is pissing people off? Why should I even care?

    I mean, I agree that chasing realism in a game is a fool’s errand; I come to this from the tabletop role-playing world, where that just leads down a rabbit hole. But I have no problem with a game that tries to realistically portray history and fails, as long as it’s fun and doesn’t present itself as purely factual. How does this quest for realism hurt this game? Is it “problematic”? I get the feeling that we’re leading in that direction but beating around the bush…correct me if I’m wrong.

    • Sandepande says:

      My personal take on it is that it’s a fairly traditional male power fantasy with a lot of gritty-ish trappings, and elements that don’t support a tale of politics and warfare are left out or simplified, despite their possible real-life importance.

      And since it is a game that claims to be grounded in history, it feels a bit dishonest.

      • Comintern1919 says:

        My personal take on it is that it’s a fairly traditional male power fantasy with a lot of gritty-ish trappings, and elements that don’t support a tale of politics and warfare are left out or simplified, despite their possible real-life importance.

        And since it is a game that claims to be grounded in history, it feels a bit dishonest.

        How is it a typical Male Power Fantasy? Because you play a man that can fight? Or what do you mean?

        Also, why does it feel dishonest if it is grounded in history? What exactly is dishonest about the game in your opinion?

    • LimaBravo says:

      Bold the quotes around problematic & spell it “Reeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee” with a lot of pseudointellectual wiki links as social science references (bloody soft sciences are the scourge of the intelligentsia) and you will be spot on :D.

      • Edgewise says:

        I’m open to claims that something may be inaccurate, inappropriate, demeaning, disrespectful, etc. “Problematic” tends to be used in a very vague way to portray something in a negative light. Kind of like how this article beats around the bush about what it really objects to. And kind of like how your comment adds nothing to the world.

        • johnis1 says:

          Yeah, this article was really beatin’ around the bush honestly… :/

    • gestapoid says:

      He’s crying that there aren’t token racial and sexual minorities in the game without saying it directly. That’s what it boils down to. For the people who don’t know that, the article would probably seem like a rambling mess.

      • Cederic says:

        The joy of this article is that he’s explicitly not doing that.

        Old debate: “your game is not historically accurate because (tokenism) and so you’re (derogatory label)”

        This debate: “Your game is historically accurate only to a certain level, informed by your ideology. Here are some examples of historical events and activities that demonstrate the complexities of depicting history, and ultimately as a reviewer I don’t think you quite got it right”

        Me, I prefer and support this new approach.

  40. Sandepande says:

    Obviously KCD gets a lot of the feel relatively “right”, from our perspective, or the mistakes (status of women etc.) wouldn’t feel quite so jarring. However, I believe that much of that feel comes from the superficial, like architecture, weaponry etc., because the place feels only slightly more lived-in than Skyrim.

    • Comintern1919 says:

      What about the status of women in the game is wrong? I didn’t see anything, maybe I missed something.

  41. xaade says:

    This article would be amusing if it bothered to reference any of its claims about the game. But as is, it’s just words upon words, since every claimed deficiency in the game actually exists in one form or another. The only way I could arrive at this conclusion is if I stopped playing right after the intro video.

    It complains that there isn’t enough about the social life, yet up front states that historians didn’t record those things.

  42. Imperialist says:

    Well, as someone who actually has a degree in the study of History, i would tend to agree with you. Historical accuracy in media IS a fools errand. When you go back further than 300 years, the map gradually goes from the sharp, clinical and precise lines of today, to vaguely familiar lines and curves, to artist’s interpretations of what the world looked like. History is told not just by the written word, which is fallible enough, but the painting, the fresco, the shattered pot, and the mossy and ruined foundation of a former civilization. Accuracy itself is impossible, as human nature dictates that fact is merely in the eye of the beholder.

    However, media can, in many ways, strive for historical AUTHENTICITY, something that the internet hordes dont seem to understand. Rather than making bold claims about specific things, one can fill in blanks using the known trends and events from an era. It merely is the presence of plausibility applied to historical scenarios. Media cannot, in any satisfactory manner, display anything near 100% accuracy, historically, as that would be rather boring for audiences, not to mention even things that happened yesterday arent known for 100% certainty. There is no 100% accuracy to speak of. However, authenticity serves to frame things in the context of what COULD happen by filling out those blanks, and allows the author to inject a personal touch, excitement, or otherwise complete fiction into a real-world setting, without it being out of place.
    TBH, Kingdom Come is pretty much as good as it gets for an authentic story, setting, and characters who may or may not have lived. And it is also a fun, deep, and immersive game at that.

    • ohminus says:

      Thanks for some sanity!

    • Ekleziast says:

      A great commentary!

    • LimaBravo says:

      +1

    • Gormongous says:

      In my experience, as a medieval historian with an interest in historical fiction, “accuracy” is about reaching an understanding of historical sources that would fit the expectations of contemporaries of those sources, while “authenticity” is about trying to reach an understanding that would fit the expectations of a modern audience. In short, authenticity is for tourists. Authenticity is about providing no uncomfortable truths, no sudden surprises, and no moments of unfamiliarity to an audience. It’s about flattering their preexisting knowledge by making them feel like they already know a historical object without even having to learn anything. It’s about making the history a part of their story, rather than them a part of history’s story.

      I agree that Kingdom Come is chock full of authenticity, as I described it above. A blacksmith can become a formidable fighter given some time and effort. He can be an alpha male and fuck a bunch of women, who otherwise don’t have much function in the public society of this version of the early fifteenth century. People say “God be with you” a lot, but there’s no other moments of extreme piety or alien cultural norms that you have to swallow. Basically, it’s a game designed to impress the average gamer with its pantomime of historical rigor while making some basic arguments about the past of Czechia in relation to the wider world of Central and Eastern Europe.

      What bums me out is that the parts of the game that do strive for accuracy, rather than authenticity, are the most interesting parts for me. Oh, I have four different equipment slots for leg armor? That’s weird and off-putting from a gameplay perspective, but it makes me think about the mental and historical shortcuts that we make in understanding medieval arms and armor. I like the faithful reconstructions of medieval landscapes, especially urban landscapes, but that’s what I liked about the first Assassin’s Creed, at least the parts of it that weren’t openly cribbed from Alamut. As someone who’s spent a lot of time looking at archaeological plans of Acre, that city was captured quite accurately in that game, and though I didn’t play Assassin’s Creed: Revelations, I understand that the accurate depiction of Constantinople in that benefited from the Byzantium 1200 project: link to byzantium1200.com

      The takeaway, for anyone who’s read this far, is that 100% accuracy is impossible, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try, and any fictional work that lays claim to some degree of historicity should set a standard of accuracy that it maintains throughout, rather than falling back on the argument of mere authenticity whenever its research and rigor are shown to be lacking. Really, isn’t it very strange that we’re willing to accept a world where there are absolutely no children as “authentic,” but not one in which we see not a single person of color who’s not just an unintelligible enemy for us to kill? That strangeness doesn’t surprise me, sadly, given the world in which we live, but I think the proper response is self-reflection and not a defensive brand of historical nihilism.

      • gerryq says:

        “A blacksmith can become a formidable fighter given some time and effort. He can be an alpha male and fuck a bunch of women!”

        No less true in any era, surely?

        • Cederic says:

          Lets face it, blacksmiths are skilled men doing a job that requires a level of muscle tone and a lot of study. That’s not only a great start point for developing martial skills but would also attract most of the women I know.

          Disclosure: The two blacksmiths I know are burly men with social inadequacy, so it hasn’t played out well in reality.

      • Spider Jerusalem says:

        “Really, isn’t it very strange that we’re willing to accept a world where there are absolutely no children as “authentic,” but not one in which we see not a single person of color who’s not just an unintelligible enemy for us to kill? That strangeness doesn’t surprise me, sadly, given the world in which we live, but I think the proper response is self-reflection and not a defensive brand of historical nihilism.”

        You’re fantastic. Thank you.

      • Zorgulon says:

        Excellent comment, Gormongous, thank you.

  43. morganjah says:

    It’s an interesting conversation.

    Obviously this game is based on an interpretation of a specific point in history that comes from a certain ideological point of view. It is not remiss to point out that ideology or to question the claims of ‘authenticity’.

    Yet, every history book interprets history through the author’s ideology and biases. Some more than others.

    It would profit anyone who is actually interested in the nature of history, to read some of the histories of the histories of certain events.

    By that, I mean the books that analyze how the articles, books and interpretations of a specific time or event in history have changed over time.

    Part of that is often due to changing ideologies of the people who research. A lot of that is also due to the evolving problems that emerge from previous answers to questions.

    For example, the French Revolution was at point interpreted as an economic revolution in response to a static and inefficient aristocracy.

    However, the research that was done to prove this interpretation came back with data that showed that the aristocracy was neither static nor particularly inefficient. In any case, the economic system did not really change after the revolution until the introduction of railroads in the 1830’s.

    So that raised new questions, which were responded to with new research filtered through the passing ideologies of the nineteenth century.

    The best way to interpret history is to understand your own prejudices, and then read a number histories from different authors and periods, with the understanding of the author’s prejudices and purposes in writing each manuscript.

    Squint hard through that, and the haziest understanding of a historical period might briefly come into focus.

    That’s the best we can do.

    • Comintern1919 says:

      What ideology would that be? Have you even played the game?

      There is literally nothing ideological about the game, at least nothing I experienced while playing the game.

      Can you point out to me what in the game somehow portrays or adheres to an ideology?

    • baud001 says:

      Regarding this:

      >For example, the French Revolution was at point interpreted as an economic revolution in response to a static and inefficient aristocracy.

      In your opinion, what was the cause(s) of the French Revolution, if it’s not economic?

  44. LimaBravo says:

    “IL-2 Sturmovic’s quest for historical accuracy is a fool’s errand.”

    You cant even get out the plane for hecks sake. Not to mention the aggregious and foul; decision to actually let you play as a nazi, clearly the devs are racist, homophobes. Clearly. Clearrrrrrrly. CleRRRRRRRREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEely.

    • mordgan says:

      HAHAHaahahahaha.

      Great comment. I laughed a lot.

    • Sandepande says:

      Are there any gay characters in KCD? Statistically, there must be, even though they possibly would be fairly closeted and/or secretive at the time.

      • anHorse says:

        “Are there any gay characters in KCD?”

        The main villain is portrayed as homosexual and it eventually leads to his downfall. Which is y’know a trope of conservative media that even they think is too on the nose to use much in films these days.

        • Sandepande says:

          I can imagine that in more conservative times, being gay would cause all kinds of career difficulties, unless that downfall is not from external source, but because his gayness simply makes him somehow incompetent or…

  45. Jodomar says:

    History generally has its bias, like most of the terrible Roman Emperors not doing half the things that is said about them, but the victor does tend to write the history. Woman where treated like property for the most part, not everywhere, but in most places. The cumans, where steppe peoples who believe it or not had blue eyes and blonde hair probably because step people or what is now “Russia” was mostly populated from Sweden/Norway or we’ll just say “Vikings” and obviously a mix of Asians. I’m sure they’re where some black people around but they would more than likely be traders if anything and only to be found in the Capital/main cities. Remember, that people where extremely racists or nationalistic and since most blacks where Muslims you can go ahead and guess how unwelcome they’d be. But hey, maybe its all wrong and until we have a time traveling Delorean at our disposal to prove otherwise, I’ll stick with what we know. There’s also the fact that its a game, and you have to make it fun. Having everything 100% accurate could make things a whole lot of boring/frustrating/way more money to produce. With all that said, I love the game. It’s super fun to play, reminds me of the elder scrolls series with way better combat.

    P.S. I also don’t appreciate people tying to subject me to an alternate version of history that makes it more inclusive for everyone. I’m sorry, but life isn’t lets all hold hands and sing Kumbaya my lord. Getting a little tired of people telling me how I should feel, act, and think. The more people do that, the more I will get pissed off.

    • Rince says:

      Yeah, but thanks to the ‘Muh historical accuracy’ we can’t even play as a woman. Heck, we can’t even customize the character. Is like a poor mans Elder Scrolls or Mount & Blade.
      When the ‘historical accuracy’ limits the gameplay is a good trade for me.

    • pepperfez says:

      An alternate version of history that’s less inclusive is fine with you though, right?

  46. Jahandar says:

    I’m not sure if that’s what they are going for, but I can see potential value in exploring flawed, biased, or idealized views of historical periods.

    Sort of like how the “wild west” as it exists in popular culture was only a period of about 10 years and was likely very different from how we romanticize it today, but there is still some value in exploring that space in fiction, and often the people exploring that space or writing stories within it aren’t aware of their misconceptions about it.

    • Zorgulon says:

      It’s certainly not what they’re going for, since all of their marketing has been about how historically accurate the game is.

      I agree there is an interesting exploration to be made of this kind of mythologising of the past, but if the hundreds of comments on this article prove anything, it’s that people will angry throw themselves at you for suggesting that maybe these versions of history have flaws.

  47. Badfinger says:

    Excellent article. A solid starting point for addressing and interrogating what we think of as history and how we go about doing it, how we interpret our own biases, and how we draw conclusions from previous work as well as our own.

  48. Duke of Chutney says:

    interesting article. I’ve not picked this up yet but may well at some point. Being a white chauvinist pig im not too concerned by the games moral credentials, but I do read history. It is not that i expect a game to be ‘historically accurate’ as this is hard to test. Its more that i want games to be convincing within my level of education. I have read a bio of Jan Huss, a history of the third crusade, the Teutons, and several on the Wars of the Roses. The only primary sources I am familiar with are The Chronicle of Henry of Livonia and Shakespeare. If people i interested in this sort of stuff i recommend reading ‘The World Turned Upside Down’ by Christopher Hill. It has been savaged by several historians over the years as it is not a neutral book (what is?) but it does emphasize the difference in mind set to those of another culture and age. For me to become immersed in a history game I would really want to be transported to another culture? Will this game do this? I doubt it but that would be my hope. In KCD’s defence first person, personal games tend to come under a lot of scrutiny as entertainment. Few bat an eyelid at Crusader Kings treatment of history. Peasants are a currency whose lives are spent in that game but as a strategy game we are fine with this. Does playing Shogun Total war provide any insights into 16th century Japanese culture or mindset?

  49. DEspresso says:

    When is the game supposed to be set? I only saw a Let’s Play where people in the Tavern reference to the Winter King so would I be correct to guess the verge of the 30-Years War?

  50. sewers-of-mars says:

    I think your term “modern biases” stinks a bit. Surely KC’s biases are more regressive than modern. The writer’s biases are modern, congratulations.
    The problem here is that the game revels the past rather than criticising or analysing it. Like the way populist political movements play on nostalgia. There are lessons to be learnt from the past, but to find comfort in the past is bad, you’re going the wrong way!
    Reality is not fun or desirable, that’s why we have fantasy. Reality is hellish, especially for gamers who need constant escape into simulated worlds.

    • pepperfez says:

      It’s a distinctly modern sort of regressive. I mean, viewing the 15th century through the lens of modern nationalism is already anachronistic, and the stated opposition to contemporary racial/sexual equality movements is positively up to the minute.

      • sewers-of-mars says:

        You have a really obfuscated way of writing. I have a really reductive way of writing (online anyway)

        This is a nazi game for nazis. It claims reality but of course it is a fantasy for certain people to escape into – they prefer it to present reality!

        Why do people prefer fantasy to reality?