Ubisoft, Notre Dame, and Historical Preservation – Why We Need More Of It

If someone told you years ago that Ubisoft’s recreation of the famed Notre Dame cathedral within Assassin’s Creed Unity would be used to assist in the repairs of the actual cathedral following a fire – would you have believed it?

It’s no trade secret that Ubisoft has been making absolute bank on their realistic re-creations and depictions of a slew of historical locales, characters and events with the Assassin’s Creed franchise.

Taking players everywhere from the Crusades to the French Revolution, Ubisoft has gone to extraordinary lengths to present faithful re-creations of various historical settings – often resulting in some of the largest cultural studies undertaken.

Now, with Notre Dame’s charred husk awaiting repair, Ubi has stepped forth to offer their laser scans of the cathedral to the repair teams and will be tasked with its restoration. The crew will be able to utilize the very same scans that Ubi compiled to ensure that the version of Notre Dame in AC: Unity didn’t just look like the real thing; it was the real thing.

As computational power increases dramatically on an annual basis, the possibilities for rendering and simulation increase in parallel. Already we have witnessed the incredible amounts of fidelity that can be conveyed across a two-dimensional screen.

We’ve long held the opinion that the power of fidelity increases alongside its ubiquity, we’ll begin to see more individuals opting to take virtual excursions at a whim over the costs of real ones.

Now, while we’re not postulating that the future of tourism is headed down the drain due to simulations, it does serve to underpin our point that the differences between designing spaces in a virtual realm and one in the real world are becoming increasingly thin.

As funny as it sounds to say, the historical virtual spaces crafted by the likes of Ubisoft have begun to shift from mere entertainment to considerably valuable pieces of historic preservation.

While it may be true that some of the entries set further behind in the history of humanity take considerable liberties, the Assassin’s Creed genres have always managed to deliver incredibly detailed compendiums of any given historical periods major events, actors, and repercussions.

Hell, just take a look at the educational value behind the standalone edition of Assassin’s Creed Origins – Discovery Tour: Ancient Egypt. This version of the title eschews everything from the base game in terms of combat, narrative, and traditional progression paths in lieu of offering players an incredibly-detailed and thought-provoking tour through Ancient Egypt.

Players can passively observe the comings and goings of the residents, or take control of any particular resident to explore their lives on their own terms. Everything from the likely routine, habits, income, status, societal role and even diet are documented.

Sick of hearing about Cleopatra? That’s fine! Take one of her royal guards for a spin, or opt for something utterly different and witness how a lowly dockworker or fishmonger may have spent his time during the empires flourishing years.

There aren’t many games that take advantage of the sheer amount of historical data that has been preserved over the ages, but we can’t help but wish for more heavy-hitting publishers to step up to the plate and give Ubi a run for their money.

After all, in such an event – it’s the players who profit.

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