Destory History is my first completed Twine project. The idea started as a way to introduce players to the discrepancies between common historical mythologization and the actual events that occurred, but the more that I thought through the ideas, the more complicated it got. Rather than asking a narrow “Did this happen?” I became interested in questions of “Is it important that we remember things this way?” Due to the practical simplicity of the mechanics, I allowed the player to operate solely through erasure, rather than more complex means of correcting or altering misconceptions. So naturally, the goal of the game became pushing the player to consider whether that erasure was ever justified. The final discussion aims to raise these kinds of question, even if it also doesn’t have the space to adequately answer them all.
But if I were creating this game today, only months after its initial development, I think I would be challenged to develop these arguments with much more depth and nuance. Recent events such as Charlottesville highlight the fact that historical myths are not neutral, passive ideas that we can safely analyze from a distance. They remain powerful and influential forces within culture, reinforcing specific narratives. One can debate whether the way that George Washington and the cherry tree reinforces American exceptionalism is problematic, but historical evidence abundantly demonstrates how, for instance, the celebratory memorialization of Confederate leaders was a deliberate project to propagate white supremacy in the American South. These are the subjects that are challenging and relevant—though, too often, a binary is drawn that only posits erasure or continued existence, and I think entering into that discussion would require substantial rework of the entire project to meaningfully engage with it.
Nonetheless, this was a tremendous learning opportunity, and I hope that players will find the game to be an entertaining experience that leaves them with lingering questions about their own conceptions of the past and the ways in which they may or may not want to change our shared understanding of history.
Explore Destory History
Cover image by Quinten de Graaf, Unsplash
Masthead Image “Image taken from page 57 of ‘Steenwijk verdedigd door Johan van den Kornput 1580-81. Naar oorspronkelijke bronnen bewerkt. (Bijlagen.)” British Library