via New Mandala, 07 December 2020: Dr Nien Yuang Cheng writes about how the Southeast Asian past is portrayed through the video game Age of Empires 2 (Amazon link), which allows you to play as the Burmese, Malay (Indonesian?), Khmer and Vietnamese.
Age of Empires II: Rise of the Rajas
Age of Empires or AoE (1997-present) is a long-running and incredibly popular series of historical real-time strategy video games. It’s a game I know well from my childhood. In the 1999 sequel the series really hit its stride in terms of critical acclaim and popularity, so much so that in 2013, fourteen years after the original, an HD edition was released along with a quick succession of expansion packs. The last expansion pack of the game, Rise of the Rajas, added four new ‘civilisations’ to the series (Burmese, Malay, Khmer, and Vietnamese), each with its own fully voice-acted campaign: “Bayinnaung” (1516 – 1581), “Gajah Mada” (flourished 1319 – 1364), “Suryavarman I” (reigned 1006 – 1050), and “Lê Lợi” (c. 1384 – 1433), representing the civilisations’ most revered ‘empire-builders’—what the game calls Heroes—in premodern Southeast Asia.