“We did not know how odd it is to see a redheaded George Washington,” Mr. Hutchinson said. “It was one of those instances where the fiction felt more right than the real version.”
Ubisoft takes far greater liberties in a downloadable add-on game that will be available to “Assassin’s Creed” players a few months after the game’s release. In “The Tyranny of King Washington,” players confront a scenario where Washington, rather than yielding power to civil authority, parlays his power and popularity and establishes himself as a new monarch.
At George Washington’s Mount Vernon estate, curators are happy that the game will introduce so many youths to Washington and the Founding Fathers — and, hopefully, get them thinking about history.
“I would love for people to focus on exactly the incredible choice Washington made to relinquish power,” said Carol Cadou, senior curator at Mount Vernon, even if the vehicle for prompting that discussion is a game that contorts and creates an alternate reality.
Historical figures certainly make appearances in some video games, but rarely from historical eras and rarely in a setting devoted to realism. The popular game “Call of Duty: Black Ops,” for instance, features John F. Kennedy, Fidel Castro, Richard Nixon and one-time Defense Secretary Robert McNamara. But in the game, the four of them team up to defeat an onslaught of zombies at the Pentagon.
Ms. Cadou says that Washington has so often been portrayed so heroically that he becomes unrelatable.
“Washington is almost so good, he becomes bland,” she said. “Even if he’s depicted in a negative way, it gives us an opportunity to explore” his life that otherwise wouldn’t exist.
The Mount Vernon estate has focused in recent years on piercing the stodgy image of Washington on the dollar bill and sought to emphasize his military daring and action-hero aspects of his life story.
Mount Vernon even looked at producing its own educational video game featuring Washington, but ultimately concluded that such a game would be “a little more violent than we had the appetite for.”
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