Have you ever wanted to explore the origins of Islam? Ever secretly desired to assassinate JFK on that fateful Dallas afternoon? How about recreating last summer's Paris riots?
Now you can in some of the creepiest of today's video games.
Documentary-based games, or docu-games, blend reality with interactivity by allowing the player to control historical figures and events.
Instead of a distraction from reality, these act as virtual time machines that make history as flexible as the gamer's imagination.
The trend might have begun with America's Army: Special Forces, a free PC download from the U.S. Army that lets you don a uniform and be all you can be. But docu-games probably started attracting real attention three years ago with headlines about 9-11 Survivor.
Tactless at best, this game mod, based on the Unreal Game engine, tested the limits of bad taste by creating characters who either help others or struggle to save themselves at the World Trade Center.
Screen shots promoting the game online show pixellated figures falling from windows. The public outcry forced the developer to quit breathlessly promoting the game as the harbinger of a new generation of interactive gaming.
Nevertheless, the past two years have seen the release of many games for the History Channel nerd who wants to twist facts for fun.
Gearbox Software released Brothers In Arms: Road To Hill 30, about paratroopers separated during the invasion of Normandy. Under The Ash and Under Siege, two RPGs from Syrian developer Afkar Media, focus on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, allowing the gamer to play as a young Palestinian with a slingshot. And Paris Riots, a mod of Medal Of Honor: Allied Assault, simulates last year's civil unrest in the Paris suburbs. Now your 11-year-old nephew can finally play a riot cop instructed to quell the youth mobs.
The most notable docu-game release in the past year is Al-Quraish, a strategy game that recreates the first 100 years of Islam's history from the viewpoint of Bedouins, Arabs, Persians and Romans. The player must build and protect trade routes and water sources, organize armies, wage battles and free slaves.
The makers hope Arab gamers can learn from homegrown sims rather than through Western portrayals of Muslim characters and ways of life. As the game's website declares: "There must be somebody to do it, and if not us, nobody will care!"
What these docu-games are certainly doing is letting the gamer play revisionist. And as much as Al-Quraish wants to defend Islam, reducing it to a game format may inadvertently debase the religion. If there were a Passion Of The Christ video game, you can bet op-ed columnists would be up in arms.
Some French people have complained that Paris Riots warps public perception of the city and trivializes regional turmoil by submitting it to button-mashers across the world.
Is there educational value in a simulated recreation of a summer riot? By shifting the individual from spectator to player, docu-games turn back the clock and allow history to unfold differently. To relive the Waco, Texas, disaster - as simulated in 2003's Waco Resurrection - is to experience how different consequences result from different actions.
If docu-gamers are playing with history like it's a toy, logic dictates that the gravitas of certain historical events will be diminished in the haze of entertainment. Filmic recreations like JFK and United 93 don't necessarily have that effect, but would a a Grand Theft Auto-like 9/11 game really be appropriate?
Or how about a docu-game based on the Hurricane Katrina disaster? As this genre of video games continues to flourish, especially in areas like the Middle East, you can expect storms of controversy despite developers' altruistic motives.
After all, if you forget history, you're doomed to repeat that level.