Today marks the 100th year since the outbreak of the Great War and I’ve spent some free time in the last few months looking into the history of the Great War. Relatedly, I’m trying to get some games about the war made. The games I’m designing are about the insanity of war and the outright bizarreness of the First World War. There are so many things about the war that strikes modern minds as outrageous or, more bluntly, stupid. At the time, the decisions made were sensical. These are the issues I want to address.
Along with the team at Wero Creative, we’re planning on releasing a couple short games. The first one is pretty much done, Scapa Flow (which began at a game jam), the next will be titled Trench. If possible, I would also like to address the battle of the skies and some of the political aspects of the war.
I studied the war during my undergrad and it captivated me. The mixture of new technology, outdated logistics, old customs, hubris, economic shifts, and bizarre politics created a situation that was rife for conflict. History repeats itself and today we find ourselves in a similar situation (albeit with different roles).
So here’s some research on the Great War I’ve collected over the past few months. This should give you a bit of a primer on the war as a well as good jumping-off points to get more information (this is by no means comprehensive).
First, like most big events in history, the war still has reverberates today:
- It’s shocking how similar the world is today to 100 years ago. How today is like the period before the First World War.
- Spiegel has a good series on how WW1 continues to have relevance.
- In the UK, they still debate how to teach history of first world war.
- At the end of the war, the Sykes–Picot Agreement divided the Middle East, and no doubt influences politics in the region today.
Watch and Listen
For something with a cursory and very, very, very short summary of check this video out:
- Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History has a great series of podcasts on the war. If you listen to just one of the podcasts listed here, this should be it.
- Great episode (mp3) of a History Extra podcast with guest Jeremy Paxton about Britain during the onset of WWI.
- The CBC show Ideas did a week long series on the Great War, they are all worth listening to. Americas’s amazing propaganda is a great episode as is the episode with Margaret MacMillan.
- Speaking of Margaret MacMillan, she has a great follow up to her book paris 1919 about the onset of the Great War: The War That Ended Peace.
- TVO has a series currently running titled Apocalypse: World War One. (My apologies if it is not available outside of Ontario.)
- If that’s all too intense, check out the war as if it was a bar fight.
Multimedia Research and Tools
- 40 maps that explain World War I.
- British Pathe has the definitive collection of video.
- What the Western Front looks like today.
The wonderful people at Zooniverse are trying their crowdsourced genius at history. They have launched Operation War Diary, which aims to transcribe and geocode the diaries of frontline soldiers.
These diaries contain the thoughts and observations of soldiers on the Western Front. They detail the location, movement and everyday activities of hundreds of thousands of individuals whose stories are otherwise unknown to us. With 1.5 million pages to go through, there are many amazing stories lying in these documents, waiting to be read.
By tagging people, places, and more on http://www.operationwardiary.org you can help our team of historians to begin to reconstruct the lives of the First World War for future generations. This is an incredibly important project and we’re very excited to be working with The National Archives and the Imperial War Museum to make it happen.
Worthwhile sites to explore for a plethora of information:
Please share more in the comments!
The Great War at Sea
This is specifically research I did for Scapa Flow.
Britain’s Surviving Warships of 1914-1918
The German Naval Blockade of World War 1
The Battleships – Jutland: Clash Of The Dreadnoughts
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