The 1917 project on Russian revolutions came to an end. Now the team of Mikhail Zygar, enlisted the support of Yandex, will focus on the development of an online game about the USSR. The first episode of "History Map" will appear on the site soon.
Life around talked with the project’s executive director Karen Shahinyan and found out whether the authors are afraid of accusations of distorting the Soviet history, what difficulties the developers faced and why the novelty should attract players.
- How do you evaluate the results of the 1917 project?
- The project about the October Revolution embraced 3 million people on the site and in social networks. At the same time, we spent some very little money on marketing. It seems to us that this is a great success. But we know where we had weaknesses, and tried to take them into account.
- Is the "Map of History" already somewhat different?
- Yes. No matter how beautiful the year 1917 is, we see that it is rather difficult to compile an overall picture of events. It immerses very well into the atmosphere, but in order to understand something important, it needs to be closely monitored. We know that people do not. Therefore, in the new project, we decided to maintain the principle of documentary, but at the same time completely change the mechanics, so that in one sitting a person could learn a specific story from beginning to end. Actually, that’s how we came up with the “Map of History”.
- What are the other features of the game? What to look for?
- Our task was to immerse a person as much as possible at a particular historical moment. The game begins with the Civil War. We suggest looking at it from the point of view of four people from various social spheres, with different ideas, characters and moods. We intentionally did not take leaders. In the game you can not stand, for example, in the place of Lenin. The whole story is already too focused on leaders, and we want to talk about civil society and individuals. These people are no less bright than leaders, but you will not find them in textbooks.
The whole story is already too focused on leaders, but we want to talk about civil society
In the episode about the Civil War, our heroes will be representatives of the red, white, politicians and writers. It will last a month. Each week a new story will appear that can be experienced. To make it easier for a person to put himself in the place of a hero, he is offered to understand specific situations. In the end there will be a moral choice: "What would you do?" You can give your answer, and then compare with what result you come to the end of the Civil War, and with what, for example, Alexandra Kollontai or Maxim Gorky came to him.
- How long did the development take? What were the difficulties?
- Game development lasted more than six months. We have been doing this project since the summer. The hardest part was with layout and design. This is a very beautiful thing in which every little thing worked. There are no staged pictures in the game. Everything is made up of documentary photographs and videos. In a sense, it is a work of digital art. Also in the game a lot of infographics, maps. It is also important that we tried to make it easy to enter the game both from a smartphone and from the desktop.
- You assure that you look at the Soviet period with an open mind and refer only to reliable sources. Is there any chance that you will still be accused of misrepresentation? As is often the case with history books.
- Of course, they can accuse us of distorting the story. This can be done precisely because we look at her with an open mind. After all, the whole history of relations between society and its past is the history of politics and propaganda.
There is no interpretation in our project. We operate on facts. If we know from the diaries that this was so, we will describe it. As for the numbers that we use in infographics, they can differ from the generally accepted ones. They are provided to us by historians who specialize in a particular period. At the end of each season, a large list of references is provided. All our authors try to find sources that are as close as possible to the moment in which a person lived so that the immersion was documentary, not artistic.
- Did you communicate with contemporaries to launch the game? Those who found the USSR in one form or another are still alive.
- We have not yet reached the part of history when it makes sense to talk with contemporaries. While we are talking about the Civil War, where more precisely written sources. Each next season of the project will last about a month and a half. Accordingly, in a year we will tell the whole history of the 20th century. When we get to the period of the Cold War or space race, then we will probably come up with a different way of working with sources. Our goal is to tell the true, documentary and interesting history of the Soviet period.
“And who should she be interested in?”
- We expect that students who do not like to read long texts will play in the “History Map”. Interactivity is also needed to lure people who are not satisfied with ordinary picture longreads. It seems to us that the more new young people will know real events about the 20th century, the better our common future will be.
- What period will the next project devote to?
- Our studio has a lot of work to do. Every month we will release something new. There will be a release of the Museum of the Birth of Democracy site. A month later, we will launch a huge project about the 68th year. If in 2017 we did one project, then in this we will launch at least four.
Dmitry Chertkov participated in the preparation of the text.
Cover: "Map of the history of Russia"