The major pastimes of today is playing computer games.

The world today is dependent on the digital age
due to its multitude of uses. The digital age can be described as the introduction
of modern technologies. Two areas of the digital age focussed on in this essay
are the digital restorations of Renaissance works of art and video games
reconstructing Renaissance cities. The period of the Renaissance is typically
described from the fourteenth century to the seventeenth century. The video
game industry is one of the most prosperous industries in the world today,
particularly since one of the major pastimes of today is playing computer games.
(Vuegen, no date) As opposed to an alternate use of the digital age – the
digital restorations of Renaissance works of art. However, it is becoming more
and more apparent that while Renaissance Italy has been beneficial for both
industries, it is not only being revived, but exploited. Undoubtedly Renaissance
Italy can be seen as a source of inspiration for the digital age, hence its
revival. However it is being revived to be exploited by both of these
industries to provide both knowledge and entertainment.

To begin with the restoration of the ‘Nozze di
Cana’ painted by Paolo Veronese and its exploitation will be presented. The
Nozze di Cana was commissioned in 1562 by Girolamo Scrocchetto in Venice, and was to decorate the new refectory in the Basilica
of San Giorgio Maggiore, which
had just been completed by the architect Andrea Palladio. On 11th
September 1797 Napoleon’s army took the painting, claiming it as war booty. To
be able to successfully take the 6.77×9.94 metres of painting back to France,
they reduced its size by tearing it into strips and rolling it up. Hence the
original remains in the Louvre in France to this day. The work of the ‘factum
arte’ (an industry dedicated to digital mediation – both in the production of works for
contemporary artists and in the production of facsimiles as part of a coherent
approach to preservation and dissemination (S.L Factum Arte, 2018)  and the arrival of the digital age provide invaluable insight. Both
were able to produce a digital facsimile of the painting, and provide deeper
insight into why Renaissance Italy is being revived in the digital age. It is
undeniable that Renaissance Italy is a source of Inspiration for digital works
of art because when done properly, it allows the audience to lose themselves in
the painting.

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A possible
viewpoint as to why Italian Renaissance works of art are revived in the digital
age is to create a deeper understanding of the time. Paolo asserts that with
regards to the production of a facsimile that it “is a process of copying for
the purposes of studying and deepening understanding – a process of
verification not one of falsification.” (Caliari,
2008) Therefore the question of revival is clear, the painting has been brought
back to life not only by the factum
arte’s digital restorations, but also by having the Nozze di Cana in its
original position in the refectory in Venice. This further challenges the point
that Renaissance Italy is exploited by the digital age, since this process is
able to verify our understanding. In particularly since having the painting in
its original position allows us to see it at the right height, lit by natural
light and fits the wall from edge to edge. (Caliari, 2008) Ultimately, in
regards to Renaissance works of art, the digital age doesn’t exploit them since
it revives them while deepening our knowledge of the time.

A further factor to be considered is the revival
of Renaissance Italy through video games such as Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed II. In particular how Renaissance Italy is revived
through the gaming industry. Assassin’s
Creed II allows the player to play as Ezio Auditore In Venice, whose family
has just been murdered. The player then guides Ezio on his quest for revenge,
through ancestral memories of Desmond Miles, immersing themselves in the
Italian Renaissance. Professor Dow of Kansas State university suggests that
video games are a better medium to portray Renaissance Italy as he states, “the
interactive environment of the game (the simulation) is more responsive to the
gamer than the cinematic spectacle (the representation) is to the moviegoer.”
(Dow, 2013, p.218) Dow suggests that it is the participation of the player and
the game’s interactive nature that makes the game more thrilling. Hence it
could be suggested that Renaissance Italy Is revived through video games, in
particular Assassin’s Creed II, due to the combination of both the simulation
and the representation. Assassin’s Creed II successfully combines the
interactive component and brief cinematic episodes to immerse the player in
Renaissance Italy.

A further point to be considered is how
Renaissance Italy is revived through the gaming industry through the immersive
experience. The immersive experience enables the player to become fully
involved in the world of Renaissance Italy. Professor Dow states “From
Baudrillard’s perspective, guiding Ezio through the Florence of Assassin’s Creed II immerses the player
in a simulation of the city and blurs the distinction of the representation and
the real.” (Dow, 2013, p.218) Dow links Baudrillard’s theory of the simulacrum
being confused with reality with the immersive experience. Dow suggests that
the narrative of Assassin’s Creed creates an immersive experience, particularly
combined with a simulation of the city. The revival of Renaissance Italy
creates an immersive experience, to the extent that the player no longer can
distinguish between the simulacrum and the real.

A further point to be considered is that
Renaissance Italy is revived due to its architecture. Here I will explore why
in particular Assassin’s Creed chose
Renaissance Italy’s architecture. As Craig Lambert asserts reveals in his
article, “80% of the architecture is still the same!” (Craig Lambert, 2013) The
article suggests that Renaissance Italy is exploited since most of the
architecture remains the same and can be used in gaming processes. Furthermore,
Dow adds to this as he claims that the game “is a simulacrum…. A deviation and
perversion of imitation itself.” (Dow, 2013, p.219) Dow suggests that the
setting of Assassin’s Creed II indeed
is exploited since the architecture can almost exactly by emulated, even though
the game had in depth research as the team took long field trips to each
location, with artists taking thousands of photos and hours of video footage.
(Keith Stuart, 2010) This enforces the idea that the game exploits Renaissance
Italy through its architecture, since it mostly remains the same today it is
easier than other destinations to create a simulacrum. An example of the
exploitation of architecture can be seen through St Marks Basilica. In Assassin’s Creed II in St Mark’s Square
the cathedral is clearly visible. However it features a façade. While the
stonework is incomplete, it resembles the state of incompleteness from the 19th
century structure, not the 15th century structure. (Dow, 2013, p.219) The
simulation is inaccurate, and otherwise the audience would not know that this
detail is historically inaccurate. It is undeniable that Renaissance Italy is
revived in the digital age, however here it is clearly exploited as the team at
Assassin’s Creed selectively pick and choose which aspects of history they want
to include. While architecture of Renaissance Italy has been revived, it has
ultimately been exploited to the point where “the nonobvious anachronism
confuses the spectator and leaves the historical accuracy of what is seen in
question.” (Dow, 2013, p.220) This statement reinforces the argument that
Ubisoft has ultimately exploited Renaissance Italy since they pick and choose
aspects of the history they wish to include, to the point where the most
important aspect isn’t historical accuracy, but the entertainment of the
player. Therefore, this can be seen as a consequence of the digital age since
the ultimate goal is player satisfaction, hence Renaissance Italy is undeniably
exploited but is unfortunately a consequence that comes with the digital age.
With the digital age and the video game industry, players should be aware that
they’re experiencing a simulation, and not an exact replica.


While it may be true that the architecture is a
key feature for the revival of Renaissance Italy in the digital age, so is the history
of Renaissance Italy. In Assassin’s Creed
II the exploitation of Renaissance Italy history makes the game more
immersive. The unfolding and understanding of history is necessary in order for
the player to successfully understand and complete the game. (Menon, 2015) This
article enforces the idea that the inclusion of history makes Assassin’s Creed an increasingly
immersive experience for the gamer; suggesting that Italian Renaissance history
is indeed exploited for the sake of making a more immersive and successful
game. This is further enforced in this article as Veugen claims that “The
historic events in the games fit around the overall Assassin’s Creed story, not the other way round.” (Vuegen, no date)
Hence claiming that while the Assassin’s
Creed indeed revives the history of Renaissance Italy, it ultimately
exploits it as it is an accessory to the narrative of Ezio, as the producers
pick and choose aspects which they want to include. This can also be seen in
the architecture of Assassin’s Creed,
as aforementioned. This is further enforced in ‘the guardian’ which states that
“history is used as a game mechanic.” (Stuart, 2010) The noun “game mechanic”
further enforces the idea that the history of Renaissance Italy is exploited
since it is ultimately a way to make the game more successful, not to
accurately portray the history of Renaissance Italy. The exploitation of
Italian Renaissance history is further highlighted by a member of the Ubisoft
research team team as they state in reference to the historical accuracy team “They
tried to make it so that each decision to deviate from historical accuracy was
always done with some part of the game in mind.” (Saga, 2015) This further
highlights that Italian Renaissance history is indeed exploited, as the
ultimate priority is the game and the gamer’s experience, not accurately
displaying Renaissance Italy. As Ubisoft has set three instalments of the Assassin’s Creed series in the Italian
renaissance, it is undeniable that the exploitation of the architecture and
history has been extremely successful.

To conclude Renaissance Italy is being revived
in the digital age through a medium of modern technologies such as video games
and digital facsimiles. There is a recent revival of Renaissance Italy due to
its increasing popularity as well as the architecture remaining the same and a
vast history. However with its increasing popularity there is a clear increase
in its exploitation, as while there is an increasing use of Renaissance Italy
in the digital age, ultimately it is only an accessory since only certain
aspects of it are shown. Digital facsimiles exploit Renaissance Italy’s art and
the gaming industry selects aspects of Renaissance Italy that will enhance
their game to create an immersive experience.