Lore. The heart of every fictional world.
How did the world get there? Where did the people come from? How did the cultures become what they are? How did the world shape itself into what it is now? We tend to get information on this in info dumps in video games, not the most elegant of methods, but that isn’t what I’m here to discuss today.
One thing I’ve noticed is that, unless it is a set up for a big reveal later, a lot of amateur gamers tend to just want to tell the truth about their world.
But that ignores something, something I consider very important whenever you give information to the player about history. And that is historical revisionism. We will never know 100% the truth about what happened in the past of our own world. We have broad strokes. We have good ideas based on research and original documents. But the truth is: Every single thing we are told, has a perspective.
Take the Elder Scrolls series for instance. Almost all the information we are given about the past is either from in-game books or by NPCs. And in both cases, you can only trust the information vaguely. Some books will straight up contradict each other, for instance, the birthplace of Tiber Septim is listed as Skyrim in one book, but another claims he was born in Highfall.
Every single “author” in the game has their own perspective. Their own reason for writing that book, and their own culture that has communicated the information to them. None of it is a 100% accurate summation of what really happened.
And you should use this same method. Every time a character starts speaking about a past event: Remember what he knows. Remember what culture he grew up in, how that culture would view the event, his opinion on the accuracy of his cultures perspective. Remember that every person is fallible and has a bias.
Spin is just normal in history. Not the greatest thing about the real world, but it is the truth. So make sure your make believe world follows through. Unless there is some objective way of viewing the past, all history will be to some degree, subjective.
The truth is, the only things we can truly believe are the things we see with our own eyes. And even then…