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Fight Like Channing Tatum (Online): A Short, Bloody History of Roman War Games

Posted January 21, 2011 to photo album "Fight Like Channing Tatum (Online): A Short, Bloody History of Roman War Games"

As The Eagle’s battle scenes demonstrate, the Roman Army was one of history’s most effective war machines. Legions of gamers, both in board games and online, have tried to emulate them.

Slide 1: Fight Like Channing Tatum (Online) - A Short, Bloody History Of Roman War Games
Slide 2: Managing Risk
Slide 3: Dungeons and Dragons Suit up the Player
Slide 4: The Birth of Multiplayer Online Games
Slide 5: Rome, from Boards to the Web
Slide 6: Getting on Board with Conquest of the Empire
Slide 7: Re-Conquest of the Empire
Slide 8: A Never-Ending War with Commands and Colors: Ancients
Slide 9: Ostia and the Politics of War
Slide 10: Ancient War Made Modern with Rome: Total War
Slide 11: Getting War Right with Rome: Total Realism
Slide 12: To Roma Victor Goes the Spoils
Slide 13: The Mod of War - Mount and Blade
Slide 12: To Roma Victor Goes the Spoils

Slide 12: To Roma Victor Goes the Spoils

Many of the Roman wargames stress the ability of players to manage their economies. One of the most historically accurate Roman games, Roma Victor, also deals with economy — both within the game and outside of it. The game was developed by U.K.’s RedBedlam, a company created not as a game publisher but as a developer of “virtual economies,” in which real people use real money to buy virtual things, much like purchases can function in Second Life. “The game came after [the company],” said President and Managing Director Kerry Fraser-Robinson in an interview by Shannon Drake with The Escapist. Drake explains the gameplay, in which the agrarian barter economy of ancient Rome is given a credit-fueled 21st century spin: “Players purchase an account key, which comes with a small amount of game currency, to access the game itself. Rather than a monthly fee, players can use their credit cards to purchase "sesterces," RV's in-game currency, if they need or want more money.” The fact that players can improve their characters and increase their Roman social status by maxing out their real credit cards makes Roma Victor, as well as other games in the “virtual economy” genre, controversial. But for Fraser-Robinson, the game simply mirrors human behavior. “We've got one guy who is much wealthier, personally, in real life, and who's spent quite a lot of money in game. [He] controls what you might call a 'legion' — well, they're auxiliaries — of soldiers. And these two major houses try to vie for the attention and power of the 'legion.' It's like real life. They love it. They're having a great time. It makes the politics and intrigue that much more interesting.”