Over the course of the year Creative Assembly have been updating Total War: Rome II, issuing balance patches, modifying certain maps, and changing some of the political leaders and generals in the game with retroactive modifications. One thing that gamers noticed is that half their generals and leaders began turning into females and that more and more of their generals started having darker skin tones. When the developer was called out for changing the game and that the company was trying to utilize historical revisionism to change demographics, Creative Assembly’s Ella McConnell responded by saying that their games are “historically authentic” not “historically accurate”.
It all started back in August of 2018, when forum posts began popping up questioning why so many of their generals and leaders were magically turning into women? Some users made others aware via the review scores on the Steam page, with gamers like Chaos Puppy writing…
“When some fans voiced concerns that there were elements to Rome II that were grossely historically inaccurate, like over 50% of your generals women, Creative Assembly told their fans that their games were NOT hisotically accurate, and if they didn’t like it, not to buy it. So if you are looking for a simulation that tries to offer the strategies, tactics, and expereinces of antiquity, this game may not be for you.” [sic]
Chaos Puppy isn’t wrong, and actually provided a visual example of the issue, where a large pool of potential generals in the game are depicted as women of color.
The issue spilled over into the forums across multiple threads. In one thread that was eventually locked, community manager Ella McConnell made a post on August 13th, 2018 telling gamers that if they don’t like the generals and leaders being replaced with women, they can either get a mod, or stop playing, because Creative Assembly makes “historically authentic” games not “historically accurate” games…
“This thread is a mess so I’m locking it (and bans have been issued for those who repeatedly violated Steam community guidelines).
“As has been said previously: Total War games are historically authentic, not historically accurate – if having female units upsets you that much you can either mod them out or just not play.”
This is a similar response that DICE gave for Battlefield V, claiming that their games are “historically immersive” and not “historically accurate”. Moderators on Reddit even went so far as to ban discussion of Battlefield V’s historical inaccuracy.
The defense was used after gamers protested having a British woman with a bionic arm fighting on the frontlines against the Germans in what was supposed to be World War II.
When critics attempted to confront DICE about the gross mischaracterization of the second World War, former EA executive Patrick Soderlund told gamers that they were “uneducated” and that if they don’t like the females taking a prominent role in the game then they don’t buy it. Gamers took Soderlund’s word to heart and opted to cancel their pre-orders.
In this case, Total War: Rome II has been out on the market since 2013, and has had its fair share of problems. However, this latest issue isn’t associated with the actual gameplay mechanics or performance of the game, but mostly with the developer’s intent to rewrite history for sociopolitical purposes.
We’ve seen other companies doing similar things as well, such as Ubisoft, who admitted that they would be further rewriting history to suit their own vision.
In one Steam thread decrying how so many of their generals and leaders seem to be represented only by women of color, a user responded by telling him to get the “Patriarchy mod” by Oatman.
Yes, you’ll be greeted with the wise words of Jordan Peterson once you get to the Steam Workshop page containing the Patriarchy Mod.
Oatman’s modification makes the representation of female generals of color more accurate to real life and actual historical accounts.
“This mod reduces the overall percentage (%) chance of female politicians and generals.
“Only Barbarians, Parthians, Egyptians, and Kush Factions may recruit female generals (1% chance to occur except for Kush, which is 5%).
“This mod was made after some research into the frequency of women in power in the Ancient Age. This mod is not meant to belittle women, but attempt to historically put them in their societal role at the time. Female generals are non existent for many factions. And female politicians are incredibly rare. There are few known instances of a woman leading armies, with only a few more examples of women in political power (usually through marriage).”
The combination of Creative Assembly’s ideologically-driven patchwork and the fact that they were involved in the Red Shell Fiasco has not boded well for their user review ratings, and Total War: Rome II has dropped from a “Mostly Positive” rating to a “Mixed” rating, with more and more gamers becoming disgruntled both with privacy and political invasion of their entertainment.
For those of you who already have the game and would prefer to retain the historically accurate element of demographic representation, you can get the Patriarchy Mod while it’s still available.
(Thanks for the news tip NeonPanda)