Rispondendo ad una domanda su Twitter, lo storico e blogger Bret Devereaux illustra in un lungo thread pregi e limiti dal punto di vista simulativo del sandbox strategico a tema storico Europa Universalis 4. Pur lodando l’elevata complessità del modello che gestisce i rapporti diplomatici e economici tra le varie nazioni, Devereaux critica come le meccaniche di gioco sembrino dipingere il colonialismo come una conseguenza inevitabile della competizione militare tra le potenze europee a cavallo tra XV e XVI secolo:
The game’s mechanics pretty much ensure that the ‘rise of Europe’ is pre-determined in each game, presented as a consequence of technology. While a skilled player playing outside Europe can ‘hold off’ the wave of European colonialism, that wave is going to occur in every game […] Part of this is a consequence of EU4’s quite brutal realist political model […] states in EU4 exist in a state of militarized interstate anarchy and consequently the player has to constantly prepare to fend off aggressive war. Since the primary way to build military strength is to expand, player generally has to expand to survive (‘get fat or die’). Consequently, EU4 presents European colonialism in some sense as the inevitable consequence of military competition within Europe – deciding *not* to do colonialism or military expansion means handicapping yourself in an all-or-nothing game of military power. That conclusion – European states had no choice BUT to expand militarily in order to survive – is essentially smuggled in by the game mechanics rather than stated outright, but it is a clear conclusion players will draw from playing the game, consciously or no.
Mentre ammette come questa conclusione sia effettivamente plausibile e sia presente anche nel dibattito storiografico contemporaneo, Devereaux sottolinea come la natura simulativa con cui il gioco si presenta rischi di farla apparire come l’unica interpretazione possibile degli avvenimenti.
The big issue is the degree to which, without serious player intervention, European dominance by 1800 is inevitable. Now of course European colonial empires did happen, so it seems odd to fault the game for regularly producing historical outcomes, but the degree to which those outcomes are presented as mechanistic and inevitable, rather than contingent is troublesome and may lead some careless players down a fairly dark path of historical thinking.
Devereaux rimarca infine come l’accuratezza dei molti dettagli, dalle dinamiche politiche alla precisione geografica, sia ideale per suscitare l’interesse e la curiosità del giocatore che sarà poi invogliato ad approfondire anche al di fuori del gioco i vari elementi incontrati.
The game is great for stimulating informative ‘wiki-walks’ as players want to find out what the heck the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth was, or what Maurician Infantry is, or investigate the printing press. In that sense, the historical rootedness has real value. For the teacher working with students whose history is heavily informed by EU4 you are likely to want to try to foreground the human impacts of those state-centered policies (because they game doesn’t) – present students with what it means *for*people* that France is grabbing islands to plant sugar in order to raise revenue to fight England and what it means that state-on-state competition in the premodern and early modern world more or less everywhere led to frequent warfare.
Immagine da Wikimedia Commons