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Games heroic and tragic: gaming St Crispin’s Day

[ by Charles Cameron — busy tidying away six or more posts before Spring Break delivers my college-age son to me — here’s one ]

We observe Shakespeare gaming — staging — playing — the Battle of Agincourt:


A play, a game, a gamble. The odds are “fearful”..

Of fighting men they have full three score thousand.
There’s five to one; besides, they all are fresh.
God’s arm strike with us! ’tis a fearful odds.
O that we now had here
But one ten thousand of those men in England
That do no work to-day!


Medieval 2 Total War also games Agincourt:

Sadly, the voice over doesn’t seem to get any more rousing than this:

Henry’s longbowmen will be the key to defeating the French, striking them down as they traverse the muddy field. To protect his longbowmen from cavalry, Henry has ordered them to plant sharpened stakes in front of their positions…

An earthy voice shouts, “For Saint George!” a couple of times, but that’s about the level of inspiration offered. I haven’t played the game, I’m going by the video overview — but there’s no mention there of Crispin — though we do hear a yokel shout:

Once more unto the breach, my Lord

— a line swiped (and then tweaked) from King Henry himself, earlier in the play — at the siege of Harfleur, not at Agincourt, to be exact.


It seems to me that the novel (Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy), film (Kagemusha, say) and television on occasion (The Honourable Woman) rise to their respective occasions — but games I think, not so much, thus far.

I look forward (on behalf of future generations, I suppose) to the Kurosawa of the game genre — and to its Jean Cocteau.

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