On today’s episode, we’re chatting about Assassin’s Creed II!
Released by Ubisoft in 2009, this incredibly popular video game sold over 9 million copies and helped solidify the Assassin’s Creed franchise into the juggernaut of gaming that it is today. History is a big part of this franchise’s appeal, and AC2 is no different. The game takes place in Renaissance Italy, and is famous for trying to make players feel immersed in that setting. As an open-world game, players can explore late fifteenth-century cities like Florence and Venice that the developers have attempted to recreate. The game plays upon classic historical tropes of Renaissance Italy, featuring powerful families and cutthroat political rivalries between them. The game also casts real historical figures as characters, from Leonardo da Vinci to Pope Alexander VI.
To discuss this game with me, I’m joined by Éric Pecile. Éric is a PhD candidate at the University of Toronto whose research focuses on economic history of Renaissance Italy. Éric also works with digital tools as part of his historical work—sort of like the game developers, he’s worked on creating a 3D recreation of sixteenth-century Florence.
For those who’d like to learn more about Renaissance Florence, check out John M. Najemy’s book A History of Florence 1200-1575 (Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing, 2006). And for those interested in thinking about teaching with video games, have a look at Metagaming: Playing, Competing, Spectating, Cheating, Trading, Making, and Breaking Videogames, by Stephanie Boluk and Patrick LeMieux (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2017).
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