Asian history inspires new online games

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After exhausting just about every elf, dragon and knight featured in Western cultures, makers of popular online games are turning to ancient Asian history and war heroes for new inspiration.

Chief among their sources is "Romance of the Three Kingdoms," an epic Chinese novel whose plots and characters are familiar to most Asians.

"Romance," which long existed in oral form before it was put together in writing in the 14th century, covers a chaotic two-century period in ancient China marked by infighting between warlords following the fall of the Han Dynasty.

The story, full of dramatic and bloody episodes about ruthless ambition, military tactics, loyalty and betrayal, yielded numerous battle legends and war heroes that are still venerated by Asians.

It also makes for an ideal theme for movies and TV shows, with the latest being John Woo's "Red Cliff," to be released just before the Beijing Olympics.

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