The Centrenauts: “I Don’t Know” and Solving the Unsolvable

Happy Almost-Friday Everyone!

Today, The Centrenauts did what we normally do: we wrote dialogue, designed maps, worked on our portfolio, and continued research. However, today there was a certain weight over us. Earlier on in the class, Yue gave her presentation and, during the Q&A at the end, she was asked why Juan Pujol García wasn’t accepted as a spy by the British government. Yue gave the only answer she could and that any of us would have given: “I don’t know.” Dr. Harney quickly assured that that was a perfectly acceptable answer—and it most definitely is—but hearing that “I don’t know” really brought to attention all of the “I don’t know”s that comes with our project.

Our game is about a spy during World War II and Operation Bodyguard. But, what did a spy actually do during the war? Specifically, how did they collect and return information, how did they relay false information, and how did they keep their covers? I only have one answer to that question: I don’t know. There’s no way of knowing what an undercover agent did during the war, as it was and likely still is classified information. Methods, tactics, and strategy are unknown to us because there are no books that detail how exactly Juan Pujol García did what he did. The books only say that he did do it.

So, how do you make a game about the actions of a spy without knowing what exactly a spy does? With Dr. Harney’s favorite word, of course: research. While we’ll never know exactly how a spy did their job, we can get a solid idea through research. When a book says that pigeons were particularly important to a spy’s work, we can assume that these pigeons carried messages for spies. When it says that false information was relayed back to Germany, we can assume it was the spies who did the relaying. There are many assumptions that can be made if you have a good understanding of the context around a topic. So far, our group has a pretty good understanding of the contexts of Allied spies in WWII.

As we move forward, our focus shifts more to Nazi Soldiers and life in the Third Reich and that opens up even more “I don’t know”s. But, I believe our group is ready to meet the questions with no answers and give them plausible answers. With the term slowly coming to an end, we’re looking forward to keeping you updated on our progress on the game—which is directly tied to the process of solving “I don’t know” with research.

Historical Accuracy

As we look for sources on Billy the Kid, we found many primary sources on his life. Most of the sources on Billy the Kid are found in the newspaper, one exception is the book written about him by the man that killed him. Although some historians said there were some minor discrepancies in Garret’s book.

We noticed some differences in the primary sources, especially in the number of people Billy killed. One of the newspaper said he killed nineteen people, another said twenty-one people, and another said he killed eight people. What does a video game producer, who wants to be historically accurate, do when the research is conflicting?

The same can be said for the video game producers that want to do a historically accurate video game on other events that weren’t recorded well. For instance, like we talked about in class, during the French Revolution, only the elites were written about and wrote in their journals. The lower class did not keep a record of what was going on. This causes limitations for video game producers who would want to produce a video game that was historically accurate about the lower class pre-French Revolution.

I think the reason a lot of video games focus on the world wars is because there are a lot of primary and secondary sources on the wars. This gives the producer the tools to make the game historically accurate or lack accuracy depending on their objective for the game. However, I think producers are trying to diversify games with the inclusion of less documented history and alternate history.