There seems to be quite a bit of confusion about the nature of historical subjectivism, so I’d like to clarify a few important points.
The postmodern critique of history doesn’t actually deny the existence of objective reality, but it does deny its knowability. Nobody can subjectively know objective reality. In other words, everything said about the past is an opinion.
Perspectives on the past are subjective. This means they’re necessarily tinted with bias. You could probably compare bias with an accent in so far as everybody has one, but nobody ever thinks they do.
The most which anybody can say about the past is that something probably happened. Some are better supported by the available evidence than others, but historical arguments in other words are necessarily based on probability.
Since they’re based on probability, historical arguments always have a margin of error. This can be tiny, but it can also be huge. There’s plenty for example to suggest that George Washington existed, but quite a bit less to suggest that Romulus and Remus did.
While some things can for all intents and purposes be considered factual based on the available evidence, nobody can ever be completely and totally certain because objective reality can’t be known. This is what allows for the possibility of competing interpretations.
Edit 1: Sticking to the above example, you could argue based on the available evidence that we have a 99% probability of George Washington’s existence. You could make the case that he never existed based on the 1% margin of error in this argument, but you’d have to somehow explain the overwhelming evidence for his existence. In other words, the existence of George Washington could for all intents and purposes be considered factual even though we still have a 1% margin of error which can’t be eliminated.
What about the existence of Romulus and Remus, though? You might argue that we have a 33% probability that Romulus and Remus existed exactly as depicted in legend, but what about the remaining 67% margin of error? You could argue that we have a 33% probability that Romulus and Remus existed in some way, shape, or form. You could argue that we have a 33% probability that Romulus and Remus were purely mythological, too. Which is right? Not only is each perspective in this case valid, but each perspective is equally valid.
Historical arguments are practically never presented in terms of probability. They’re almost always made authoritatively, but they’re still just arguments of probability based on the available evidence.
Edit 2: There seems to be some confusion about the word “history.” There’s a difference between “history” as a synonym for “the past” and “history” as referring to the academic discipline. This article is mostly about the latter. I realize that academic discourse rarely makes it into the gaming press, but that’s precisely why I figured that writing an article like this was important.
Edit 3: Historical methods and theory can only be used to analyze a feature when the game in question is actually trying to say something about the past. This is covered in detail towards the end of the piece.
Thanks for reading my article!