At first, God of War’s Hacksilver may seem to be a clever renaming of a commonly used game currency. However, the name connects to real-world history.
God of War’s hacksilver currency may prove confusing on first reading its description, but it’s actually connect to real-world history. Usually, just silver is used to denote any sort of currency made from the material. The addition of “hack” to the front conjures images worthy of Kratos’ Leviathan Axe. However, the term has a long history prior to it’s inclusion in God of War, stretching back to the real-life Viking age.
Departing from the ancient Greek world of the previous entries, 2018’s God of War sees the story set far to the north in the realm of the Norse Gods, where Kratos meets God of War side characters like Mimir and Freya. To fund the necessary gear and upgrades for his quest as he goes, he must use a common currency new to the franchise, a real-world currency known as hacksilver.
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The name “hacksilver” comes from an ancient practice common in Norse societies, where captured and traded silver would be measured not in minted coins or notes, but in pure weight, regardless of the shape. They eliminated the need for a centralized mint (which was helpful among the ever-shifting factions of the time) as well as allowed the easy trade of captured or otherwise acquired jewelry and coinage on a level playing field. Hacksilver refers not to one central currency, but to the broad economic concept of trading in non-currency valuables.
How Does God Of War’s Hacksilver Connect To The Real World?
In the Viking age, both complete objects and hacksilver were viable as currency. Hacksilver specifically referred to incomplete pieces, such as chipped or broken bits of necklaces, beads, or rings – hence the “hack.” According to the National Museum of Scotland, these pieces would often have chips or nicks taken out to test the quality during trades. They were traded with their weight, as well as their composition, being taken into account when determining the value. The source of the silver, be it from trade or raid, was less of a factor.
In God of War, the main ways to acquire hacksilver are collecting it off dead enemies, opening chests, and breaking objects in the environment. The currency itself is never seen, as it’s displayed as a glowing, jingling bag. The main use Kratos has for the silver mirrors its real-world use: trade. On his journey, Kratos occasionally pays a visit to God of War’s dwarf brothers Brok and Sindri, some of the best smiths in the land, being responsible for the crafting of Thor’s hammer Mjolnir as well as Kratos’ own Leviathan Axe. The brothers are able to outfit Kratos with upgrades to his weapons and new armor, but not for free. The brothers take hacksilver as payment, just as any self-respecting Norse merchant would.
Far from being just a quirky name for a videogame currency, hacksilver has its roots in actual Norse practice. Sony Santa Monica did its homework when it came to God of War and brainstorming how Kratos would acquire what he needed during his journeys. Kratos using the captured silver of his slain foes to purchase better armor and weapon upgrades mirrors the Vikings of old using the captured silver of their conquests to trade for food, clothing, or indeed, better armor and weapon upgrades, something vital to God of War’s combat.
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Source: National Museum of Scotland
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