there’s a million things I haven’t done
But just you wait, just you wait....”
– Hamilton (Alexander Hamilton)
Friday nights we retire to the basement for “movie night” in what has become a family tradition (one that, sadly, long outlasted Thursday “family game night”). Usually our son picks the movie, but with Disney+ releasing Hamilton streaming online for the July Fourth weekend, my wife exercised her authority and declared we’d all watch it. I’ve appreciated more traditional musicals in the past: I performed in the pit orchestra for high school productions; our family saw Yul Brynner in The King and I when we were kids; I’ve visited sites from The Sound of Music around Salzburg Austria; and I’ve enjoyed community musical theater productions of Pirates of Penzance and Camelot. I haven’t been to many live, professional musical performances in my adult life given the high cost of tickets; so despite the media excitement over Hamilton, it really wasn’t on my radar...until it came to Disney+. I’m not a fan of many of the more modern musical styles it employs, but I figured I’d give it a shot. And I enjoyed it immensely: it’s amazing musical performances, the clever writing, the staging and costumes, and the many messages it sends about America’s foundation, the role of immigrants, and our places in American society. Afterward I read more about the musical and its critical acclaim online and was surprised to see some dismissive comments about historical inaccuracies. The musical – and most any entertainment based on historical situations – made some minor changes to help craft an engaging story. I was still inspired to read more online about the musical’s background, Alexander Hamilton’s life, and even what elements weren’t historically accurate (and why). Both my wife and I hope to read Ron Chernow’s 2004 biography Alexander Hamilton, the book upon which Miranda based his musical.
Entertainment can expose inquisitive minds to new ideas, provide some basic information, and inspire the urge to explore further. Even with its historical inaccuracies, Hamilton has the power to inspire people beyond the immersion in musical theater. For some this might serve as their first exposure to Hamilton’s life and work; for others it might offer further inspiration to explore topics in early American history. Games can also introduce us to new subjects of interest in an engaging way we experience firsthand. For those of us involved in the adventure gaming hobby, we’re constantly challenged by the vast scope of game types and subjects. We might not find inspiration in every game. Our own investigations into a subject might only form an educational diversion before moving on to other pursuits. But it’s worth trying something new if even one game inspires us to broaden our horizons.
What games have inspired you to wander off to explore new subjects and broaden your horizons?