The Strange Distorted Mirror of History in the Anno Video Game Series

Anno is a sort of city-builder/resource management series that takes place in various time periods, including two future time periods (Anno 2070 and Anno 2205). Most of the games take place in historical periods however, with the upcoming Anno 1800 taking place, obviously, in the 19th Century for example. But the game only reflects a world that is only inspired by the real world rather than based on it. In Anno 1800 for example, you are able to build a city in the ‘Old World’ that is clearly inspired by Victorian London. You are then able to go on Expeditions to the ‘New World’ and build cities there, except the inhabitants of those cities speak with Spanish accents. It is clear that this is inspired by colonial cities of Latin America. But why would an English speaking Victorian London found colonies inhabited by Spanish speakers? What’s more, much of the exploration and colonisation depicted in the game was already done by the 19th Century in the real world. In fact, many Latin American countries gained their independence during the 19th Century. They weren’t only just founded then! Confusingly, the earlier Anno 1404, which is also known as Dawn of Discovery, is set during a 15th Century inspired world. That is the century in which exploration and colonisation actually did start to take place. But instead of ‘discovering’ the Americas you are able to travel to the ‘Orient’, which is clearly inspired by the Middle East. But Europe and Western Asia had already been in contact for centuries at this point. An obvious example would be the Roman Empire in which both parts of Europe and the Middle East were united in the same political body. So it doesn’t make sense to talk of ‘discovery’ at all in this context.

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