Reflections of history: representations of the Second World War in Valkyria Chronicles

Many contemporary video games engage with historical representations. Series like Civilization (1991–present), Assassin’s Creed (2007–present), and Call of Duty (2003–present) have shown that history is a popular playground for games. Taking a step away from the historical and towards the fantastical, Valkyria Chronicles is a Japanese tactical role-playing game structured around a reframing of World War II, presenting it as a fictional conflict on an imagined continent. Though not strictly a historical game, Valkyria Chronicles nevertheless offers a case for examining playful representations of the past. In this article, Valkyria Chronicles is analyzed through the concept of selective authenticity to see how the historical connections to World War II in the game are built and maintained: which elements of the popular memory of the war are leveraged to create historical authenticity when the game in general strives towards fantasy. Reading Valkyria Chronicles as a reflection of history, this article presents the basics of how the game’s counterfactual narratives and depictions of history connect it to the established popular metanarrative about World War II, and how the game also self-reflexively comments on the susceptibility and malleability of historical facts as they are recorded and reinterpreted.