18th century depiction of the Oath in the Peach Garden. DW players should be able to easily identify Liu Bei, Guan Yu, and Zhang Fei.
There are a number of obvious cultural values and beliefs, often universal to all cultures, expressed in the games. Treachery is looked down upon, as seen by Dong Zhuo's betrayal as well as his subsequent betrayal by Lu Bu. Even the character of Lu Bu, the quintessential icon of the games, is somewhat looked down upon for his lack of purpose and loyalty other than to himself. Friendship and brotherhood is extolled on more than one occasion, particularly in the game's depiction of the Oath in the Peach Garden in which Liu Bei, Zhang Fei, and Guan Yu pledged their friendship and brotherhood, an oath that had consequences on the lives of all three as well as the entirety of history.
It is interesting though, how the game also manages to explain and illustrate cultural ideas that are more unique to China. Ever wonder why all the Chinese parents are slapping their kids for not getting 100s on tests? Ever wonder why all the Chinese parents want their kids to go to Harvard? Dynasty Warriors
does a fairly good job of explaining this. Consider that in Dynasty Warriors
as well as the source novel, emphasis is always placed on the importance of cunning, intellect, and strategy. It is true that characters are described as being great warriors. However, it should be noted that the greatest warrior was arguably Lu Bu, whose lack of intelligence and morality lead to a quick demise. The characters in the game and book who accomplished the most were often not only great warriors but also great strategists. In addition to their own cunning, leaders often additionally confided in and relied on the advice of intellectuals such as Zhuge Liang and other figures. Most importantly, it should be noted that for a number of characters including Liu Bei of the Shi Kingdom, accomplishment and intellect are the qualities that elevated a person from poverty to adviser or king. Bloodlines, the will of the gods, and who your ancestors were, were not the only ways to become something in the world. It is not surprising given such a depiction of the importance of intelligence in a novel of supreme importance to Chinese culture and history, that education and intelligence are qualities encouraged over generations of Chinese as an important means of advancement.
On a less serious note, Dynasty Warriors
also manages to explain certain cultural references in Chinese culture. Guan Yu has been historically held in high honor and was even deified several centuries after his death. Depictions of Guan Yu in statues and paintings are everywhere in China. I can recall seeing several of them scattered around in random places in modern neighborhoods during a recent trip to Taiwan. Not only would a foreigner who has placed the games be able to identify the man as Guan Yu, but they would also be able to understand why it is that Guan Yu is placed in such high regard because the games do a fantastic job of illustrating it.
It is always amusing to me that a work that so excellently depicts Chinese culture and history was in fact made by the Japanese. I feel that people and particularly reviewers focus way too much on the mechanics of the game and as a result ignore the historical, cultural, and literary value and accomplishments of the Dynasty Warriors
games. In this day and age where educators and all sorts of experts are trying to figure out how to better teach history, increase literacy, and increase multicultural awareness, how long before they come to the same realization that Koei and the History Channel has reached: that video games may be the answer.
P.S. So sad, Romance of the Three Kingdoms XI
for the PC is delayed until September. How else will I waste my time in the summer other than WoW?
Updated to correct a blatent error. Thanks Mister Disco.