Digital Playgrounds: Communicating Knowledge of the Past through Video Games
Csilla Ariese-Vandemeulebroucke/Krijn Boom/Angus Mol/Aris Politopoulos
VALUE Foundation/Leiden University/University of Amsterdam, Netherlands
What happens when you invite children and adults into a digital playground to explore and rebuild cultural heritage? The exploration of this question will show how video games can provide immersive and accessible experiences of the past, which can be used as entry points for the communication of (specialist) knowledge. The VALUE foundation has been active in the intersections of video games and archaeology for the past three years, guided by our two core values of playfulness and accessibility. In this presentation we will showcase how we use the popular building game Minecraft to democratize access to the past and to the results of archaeological research.
The combination of video games and the past is not unique to the VALUE foundation’s work. In fact, the past as a concept has been utilized extensively by game developers who recreate or are inspired by historical environments, events, or characters – or even alternative histories – in their games. Some of these games have a vast reach through millions of players and have received praise for their (perceived) historical authenticity and their potential for teaching history. Well-known examples are the hugely successful Assassin’s Creed series and the Civilization series.
Indeed, the former even introduced a game mode specifically geared to be used by educators for their most recent game which is set in Ancient Egypt, the Assassin’s Creed: Origins – Discovery Tour. However, the vast majority of games are produced by game developers without directly consulting historians, archaeologists, or museum curators. Instead, developers tend to simply ‘Google’ and re-purpose whatever accessible information they can find.
Even in those cases where specialists are consulted or (temporarily) added to the staff, their input tends to be limited and in the service of other aspects of the game that are deemed more important. Thus, much of what is communicated about the past to the public in the vastly popular realm of video game entertainment is not directly linked to academic knowledge sources. It is in this knowledge dissemination disconnect where the VALUE foundation positions itself.
As academics and gamers, the members of the VALUE foundation seek to directly link the playgrounds of video games to recent and relevant scientific insights and results. This has been the primary motivation for the Minecraft: Nineveh and RoMeincraft projects. In a series of events, we created crowdsourced reconstructions of Assyrian and Roman heritage together with over 2000 people. The basis for these reconstructions is archaeological, historical, or geological knowledge such as site maps, descriptions from primary sources, and landscape studies.
With this knowledge as a foundation, the events themselves offer more leeway for creativity, exchange, and play. Visitors are shown and told knowledge about the past in an accessible and personal form, which they can then use according to their own insights to collaborate in the ongoing digital re-constructions. Through its discussion of the potential of video games and the specific opportunities and challenges we encountered in running playful outreach projects, this presentation seeks to contribute to a wider appreciation of the interactive past as a platform for communication.
Keywords: Video Games, Knowledge Exchange, Democratization, Minecraft
Games People Dig: Are They Archaeological Experiences or Archaeological Systems?
Erik Malcolm Champion
Curtin University, Australia
One of the many but important dilemmas we may encounter in designing or critiquing games for archaeology, (and for history and for heritage), is determining the why: why we should develop, buy, play, and teach specific games for the above disciplines. For archaeology, I propose there is a further interesting bifurcation: between games aiming to convey an experience of archaeology (the what, what it is to experience archaeology), and games aiming to show how systems, methods, findings and unknowns interact either to produce that experience, or to reveal what is unknown or debated (how knowledge is established or how knowledge is contested). Central to this investigation is the question of whether video game genres or games as modes of interaction can be compared against what is learnt from that interactive mode or genre of interaction. Can a schematic framework show what can be communicated and why it should be done? Can it help (schematically) accomplish these goals, and provide criteria for determining when this is or is not useful? Or are we risking a banal gamification of archaeological learning?
Keywords: Serious games, Gamification, Archaeology, Education
Hacking Classrooms for Communities: Augmenting Collaboration Through Digital Scholarship
University of Montréal, Canada
The growing spirit of openness and collaboration that drives public archaeology and heritage practice today, intersecting with the critical push to build inclusivity and multi-vocality, challenges teaching and learning with new questions about equity, ethics, and impact in contemporary classrooms and beyond. At its core lies the dilemma of how to decolonize archaeology for more ethical and responsible practice and address the legacies of past practices. By extension, how do we transform training to better prepare future generations of archaeologists for research and practice driven by collaboration and community-engagement? Is it possible to transform perceptions and experiences of archaeology and heritage by shifting classroom engagement? Teaching students to not only use and understand but develop and put into practice digital technologies for community engagement revolutionizes learning experiences for archaeologists-in-training by embedding them in the complexities of the process. It demands critical and thoughtful disruption of traditional approaches to studying the past while challenging us to address issues of varying digital literacies, access, privacy, and protection that lie at the core of contemporary archaeological practice.
This paper will use case studies developing hybrid interventions in museum exhibits through collaborations between students, museums, professional archaeologists, and descendant communities in Canada. Inspired by maker culture(s), hackathons, and coding communities, cooperative and community-driven projects in augmented and virtual reality, sound, interactive storytelling, and physical computing allowed students to engage with and critically assess inter-community dialogues, engage with a range of archaeological professions, and interrogate the ethics and equity of digital interventions in heritage environments. Although the projects allowed students to build digital skills, including code, data management, etc., the primary goal was to challenge them to think outside the box about avenues for archaeological research in the context of current politics, economics, and social inequities and find innovative, creative, but also deeply practical solutions. This framework demanded examinations of privilege and power in past and present archaeological practice, but also to find solutions within the realistic confines of limited budgets, timelines, ethical structures, and heritage resources.
These experiences in digital practice provided integral opportunities to shift accountability, engagement, impact, and professional development in archaeology training programs. However, it also introduced new problems regarding the practicalities, infrastructure, ethics, and disciplinary structures that create both opportunities and barriers to community-based digital archaeology teaching and learning. Recent demands to re-envision publicness, openness and collaboration in archaeology challenge us to re-imagine higher education, the roles it plays, and the ways in which we can mobilize digital technology to not only amplify opportunities for training but also augment connections between classrooms and the communities we serve.
Keywords: Heritage, Public Archaeology, Museology, Digital Media, Inclusivity
Same As It Ever Was: The Perils of Replicating an Ethic of Coloniality in Archaeogaming
L. Meghan Dennis
University of York, UK
Archaeogaming posits that immaterial worlds, such as those found in single and multiplayer video-games, are viable spaces in which to study material culture, recognizing that created cultures are the inherited product of cultural influences from within our own “real” world. By examining each game as a discrete space, we can isolate the particular culture of the created world, can apply archaeological and ethnographic techniques, and can address larger issues of theory and practice in non-destructive, replicable ways.
In order to accomplish this, archaeogaming requires treating a game world, a world bounded and defined by the limitations of its hardware, software and coding choices, as both a closed universe and as an extension of the external culture that created it. Everything that goes into the immaterial space comes from its external cultural source in one way or another. Because of this, we see the same methodological and ethical problems in studying culture in games as in studying culture in the material world.
Research has been conducted on appropriate ethical behavior in internet-based ethnography, but this work has been directed towards establishing ethical data collection practices in general, and has focused on human subjects and their communities, not on material culture or its collection and analysis. There is a definite missing element in the research thus far, as regards locating archaeology in video-games in a context of ethical versus unethical practices, and analyzing the researcher’s interaction with those practices. That the field of digital heritage and digital archaeology is growing without serious consideration for the ethical implications of research is troubling, and shows a lack of foresight, as well as a lack of reflexivity on the part of researchers. The ramifications of past ethical lapses in traditional heritage studies and archaeology should have permeated the digital research realm by now, but appear not to have done so.
Of concern are the ways in which structures of colonial power and colonial discourse are being replicated, shaping the emerging discipline and leading it towards embracing, rather than refuting, the colonialist ethic from which archaeology has been working to divest itself.
Included in those problematic practices are issues of narrative (the focus is still generally on discovery and acquisition), issues of disposition (collection analysis is still the model), issues of representation (most archaeogaming researchers are white, Western, and male), and issues of indigenous inclusion (there is no discussion of how indigeneity is, or could, be involved philosophically in the discipline.)
This paper will explore these issues, presenting ways in which archaeogaming can be used as a pedagogical tool to teach students of archaeology and heritage about coloniality, the history and theory of archaeology, and best practices in inclusive and diverse heritage-sector work.
Keywords: Ethics, Archaeogaming, Experiential Learning, Coloniality, Digital Archaeology
Understanding Ancient Spaces: Virtual Environments as a Tool
Felicitas Fiedler/Erika Holter/Una Ulrike Schäfer/Sebastian Schwesinger
Humboldt-University Berlin, Germany
Our research project on political communication in Ancient Athens studies the sensory conditions of political communication during the public assembly on the Pnyx using the possibilities afforded by game engine technology. Within the game engine, a digital reconstruction is combined with binaural impressions fed into the virtual environment using professional acoustic simulation software, thereby expanding the experience of the space beyond the static, visual nature typical of (rendered) images to a dynamic, first-person audio-visual experience. This presents ancient spaces as more than just visual environments, but as multisensory ones where sensory parameters can be studied with regards to spatial functionality. In this talk, we would like to focus not on the research environment in terms of its research output, but in terms of its epistemic potential: how can new technologies support a new interaction with material evidence?
Spatial experience is an important didactic element in archaeological training: the embodied knowledge inherent in visiting a space during an excursion and walking through it are different from simply studying it through maps and images, and current archaeology curricula reflects this by offering regular excursions to students. While a virtual environment can never completely replace a visit, they do offer a different kind of spatial learning to students learning about ancient spaces.
The dynamic nature of the virtual environment provided for by game engines allows for the incorporation of variables into the reconstruction. Using an interface integrated within the research environment, students can change elements of the reconstruction, and thereby immediately experience their impact on the sensory conditions, e.g. visibility or audibility. While at the same time fine-tuning questions, it also underlines the dynamic, variable nature of the reconstructions themselves that they are working with, so that they can begin to question the reconstruction proposals presented to them. On the one hand, understanding ancient spaces as multisensory spaces of experience, and with that, on the other hand, learning to closely and effectively scrutinize the foundations of the reconstructed environment.
The project has been accompanied by several seminars that attempt to make each of these aspects clear to students, as well as to integrate teaching and students work into our research, and we would like in addition to share the experiences we gained during these seminars. One seminar was directed at students of archaeology, where the main goal was to use digital reconstruction techniques in order to learn to closely scrutinize archaeological data. The course was intended to teach students how to evaluate the sources available to archaeologists when attempting to reconstruct ancient spaces, and to sharpen the students’ awareness of knowledge gaps. The other seminar was directed at a broad array of students from computer science to cultural history and was intended to convey the material foundations as sensory conditions of ancient public life. In difference to written forms of presenting knowledge about ancient practices and events the interdisciplinary teams of students designed virtual scenarios, thereby experiencing gaps in the narrations and developing strategies to work with them in virtual environments.
Keywords: Digital Sensory Archaeology, Virtual Research Environment, Dynamic/Interactive VR, Acoustic Simulation, Digital Training Methods
The challenges of archaeological reconstruction: Back then, now and tomorrow
Archaeological reconstruction is part of archaeology since its beginnings. From rudimental sketches to elaborated artwork, from pages in a notebook to immersive three-dimensional worlds, from detailed scientific research to mere fantasy; the spectrum of quality, media and reliability of archaeological reconstructions is broad and shows a wide variety. In most cases however, we are not able to see that variety in the visualisation itself and are misled in believing how the past has looked like.
Reconstructions are a popular way of communicating the past to a broader audience, as can be observed in museums, magazines, documentaries or even videogames. The effect of an elaborated reconstruction is however often preferred over the truthfulness of the underlying sources. Although there are guidelines and charters promoting a good way of documenting and presenting, they are often ignored and outdated.
Combining the research on my ongoing PhD, the experiences of my former job as a freelancer specialised in creating 3D reconstructions of Ancient Near Eastern architecture and the prospects of my current job as a research associate in Archaeoinformatics, I want to talk about the challenges of archaeological reconstructions in the past, today and what I think will become the challenges of tomorrow.
Keywords: Archaeological Reconstruction, 3D, Ancient Near East, VR
Designing and Using Digital Games as Historical Learning Contexts
University of Salford, UK
In the last decades, digital games based on historical themes or settings have become an important form of historical engagement, with a great potential to influence popular conceptions about the past. In spite of the growing interest in harnessing this power for the teaching of history in formal educational contexts, still many questions in regard to the representational appropriateness, educational effectiveness, and practical implementation of historical computer games in school classrooms remain unclear (McCall, 2016). In this paper, I would like to give an overview of a Ph.D. research set to analyse the potential of digital games for historical education. Adopting a practice-based approach, this research was led by the iterative development of a series of historical game prototypes, designed to explore everyday life in early Anglo-Saxon Britain, the period of time when Germanic tribes arrived and settled in Britain after the departure of the Romans, around AD 410.
At different stages of design, the prototypes were evaluated by historians, archaeologists, and educators, moving at a later stage to their implementation and testing within the history curriculum of a Key stage 2 school classroom (8 – 11 years old). In this phase, qualitative and quantitative data were collected following a pre-post test methodology. In the first sessions, children were asked to draw pictures representing life in Anglo-Saxon time. In the following sessions, the game was played by the children, collecting in-game data from their gameplay actions and decisions. Lastly, children were asked to communicate again through drawings their ideas and experiences in the simulated environment. To gain a better perspective of children’s knowledge, assumptions, and situated experiences, mini-interviews were conducted during the drawing sessions, following a “talk and draw” research approach.
The combination of drawings and mini-interviews proved to be revealing. This methodology provided valuable insights into children’s previous historical assumptions and thoughts before and after playing the Anglo-Saxon game. Through drawings, children were able to express ideas, emotions, and experiences often difficult to articulate in verbal language. In many cases, these ideas were expressed in the form of narratives, with the drawing’s author assuming an active role within the representation. A close study of these visual recounts revealed that children’s previous assumptions and naive theories about the past became interrogated and in many instances challenged by their experiences within the game, resulting in dissonances that were later productively addressed in class discussions.
Drawing from this process, this research has contributed to gain a better understanding of the theoretical issues involved in the design and implementation of historical game based learning methodologies, making empirical connections between educational theory, historical learning, and game design.
Keywords: Historical Game-based Learning, Game Design, Virtual Environments
Communicating current research content through multimedia learning environments. Insights into a joint university and Leibniz Gemeinschaft research project from Kiel
David Frederik Hölscher
Kiel University, Germany
Archaeological topics and research are brought to the public’s attention by many formats. Among the most important are exhibitions and educational programmes in museums as well as radio and television broadcasts. In the course of rapid technological development, especially in the digital sector, multimedia formats have also been included in informal learning settings. Yet the actual didactic benefits of these formats are rarely evaluated.
The goals of the PhD project “Knowledge transfer in archaeology. A study on the communication of current research content through multimedia learning environments” (working-title) are twofold: On the one hand, it aims at communicating historical dimensions of human-environment-interactions and social development to the public.
In order to achieve this, a multimedia learning environment related to research in landscape and social archaeology at Kiel University will be developed. On the other hand, the learning process will be studied from a didactic perspective in order to investigate the learning outcome of this specific educational programme.
The multimedia tool will take users to archaeological sites and landscapes formed by human activities in Schleswig-Holstein. Using GPS-tours, information will be conveyed using a variety of media, such as texts, pictures, audiofiles and videos or animations. Taking advantage of the properties of informal learning environments, explorative, self-steered and experience-based learning will be encouraged, e.g. through digital “gamification”. The project combines a practical educational opportunity in Archaeology, didactic theory and didactic research in a way currently unique in the discipline.
The PhD project started in January 2018 and is embedded in the Kiel Science Outreach Campus (KiSOC), which was formed as joint project of Kiel University and the Leibniz Institute for Science and Mathematics Education.
Keywords: Science Communication, Didactic Research, Environmental Archaeology, Social Archaeology, Gamification
Developing digital archaeology for young people: A model for fostering empathy and dialogue in formal and informal learning environments
Preconceptions of archaeology and cultural heritage are generally formed at a very young age through exposure to mass media, and formal and informal history lessons. The quality of these exposures is extremely variable, regularly privileging extremes – i.e., highly fantastical & emotive or, alternatively, didactic & devoid of emotion. Even as museums and other cultural institutions experiment with closing the gap between these extremes, more formal learning environments arguably struggle to make archaeology relevant and meaningful to young people. Although digital technologies may appear as tempting means to intervene in this meaning-making process, their application to archaeological pedagogy at the primary and secondary school level can be superficial or result in the replication of existing problematic pedagogical approaches.
Worsening this predicament, most of the pedagogy-specific scholarship on digital archaeology/heritage pertains to university-level training or continuing professional development. Where pre-university education is tended to, the focus is almost exclusively on the use of VR environments, serious games or 3D prints in learning – usually as isolated elements, with the technology itself driving the agenda, and often further constrained by narrow attention to a single archaeological site, and by a lack of robust evaluative data to substantiate efficacy. While the challenges of weaving archaeological knowledge into primary and secondary education are considerable, the digital archaeology schoolroom is an untapped resource with potential for engendering individual learning, constructive group dialogue, good citizenship and larger social conscience.
As part of the EU-funded EMOTIVE Project (www.emotiveproject.eu), we are exploring the development of a multi-component digital kit for formal and informal learning environments. This kit’s components (including 3D moulds, 3D photos, a virtual museum, and chatbot, which are usable independently but ideally deployed in tandem over a period of days or weeks) seek to nurture historical knowledge, affective connection, perspective-taking skills, close looking and listening skills, critical dialogue, and self-reflection to foster both historical and human empathy among middle and high school students. Our overarching interest is in extensible models of practice that demand minimal or no technical expertise (enabling teachers/facilitators and youth of all levels of competency to participate) and maximum degrees of topical flexibility (enabling a range of conceptual and subject matters to be explored – within and beyond the cultural heritage sector). Here we present preliminary evaluative data gathered with Young Archaeologists’ Club members in England who have tested components of EMOTIVE’s digital schoolkit.
We reflect on the strengths and weaknesses of the approach, our inspirations – including work by the US National Parks Service and the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience – and the challenges ahead as we strive to extend the prototype into more formal school contexts.
Keywords: Archaeology in Schools, Digital Media, Young People, Historical Empathy, Facilitated Dialogue
Almoina AR: An immersive experience for an archaeological museum with Hololens Glasses
Adolfo Muñoz/Ana Martí Testón
Universitat Politècnica de Valencia, Spain
Museums are places where cultural heritage is preserved and, therefore, we can consider them an essential resource to understand our identity, the past and our future. In the last two decades, these environments have increased the use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) in a remarkable way, investing large amounts of money and time digitizing the collections with the intention of reaching new audiences. We have gone from using analogue systems of audio recordings, which normally belonged to the museum, to the presentation of content at users’ smartphones, which do not require any update nor maintenance. In addition, these new systems allow a personalization of the experience which can be adapted to the user’s profile by using artificial intelligence techniques.
With the recent advent of the Augmented Reality (AR) devices of the “view through” type, the possibility of realizing a long-awaited dream is now possible: perceiving and interacting with virtual contents in the form of holograms anchored to the real physical space. Indeed, one of the most interesting challenges is the possibility of leaving the screen apart and interacting with digital data in an intuitive way, through voice commands and gestures. These devices offer a new scenery with a vast potential for experimenting with storytelling creation, a current trend in archaeological museums. In our effort to take advantage of the new capabilities of AR glasses, we have developed different applications with Hololens smart glasses from Microsoft with the aim of testing those narratives.
In this presentation we are going to explain our experiences in the development and design of an immersive experience for the archaeological museum of the Almoina in Valencia (Spain). A singular project where we have experimented with a fictional holographic character that attends as a guide to present a story about the city life in Valencia during the time of the Roman Republic. The story is presented as animated sequences with video, 3D reconstructions and music. The visitor conducts the storyline interacting with the marked hotspots that appear over the ruins of the museum. One of the aims of the project was to determine which kind of storytelling is more appropriate to develop a new museography 4.0 which we considered must be: immersive, naturalized, interactive, intelligent and transmedia. In the presentation we will explain the results of the several usability tests which has been conducted.
We can determine that most of users enjoyed the contents, interacting in a natural and intuitive way with almost no training. With this experience, we have tested a new way to build narratives in the physical space of the museum, while enhancing the experience with rich digital data, helping visitors to understand the context of collections. The prototype for the Almoina demonstrates that AR will become a disruptive media in the future of museums and exhibitions.
Keywords: Museum, Augmented Reality, Inmersive, Hololens, Storytelling
Digital media in the LVR-Archaeological Park Xanten
LVR-Archaeological Park Xanten, Germany
The LVR-Archaeological Park Xanten/LVR-RomanMuseum (LVR-APX/LVR-RMX) is located on the site of the former Roman city Colonia Ulpia Traiana (CUT). The first sections of the park opened in 1977, the LVR-RomanMuseum opened in 2008. The guidelines of the LVR-APX are the visualization of the ancient city structures and the reconstruction of important individual monuments that contribute to the understanding of the Roman city. This presentation will give an overview of the media, which were developed and are currently in use in the LVR-APX/LVR-RMX. It will also shed light on the field of tension between the use and risks of media in a museum context.
The target group-oriented conception of interactive media is one of the most exciting challenges of museum work. Media are particularly attractive for younger target groups. Interactive exhibition elements inform, activate and support visitors in viewing and understanding objects. Nevertheless, the use of digital media is characterized by a rapid technological change. In today’s media society, tablets, apps, VR and AR applications may distract from the aura of the original or the authentic place. Last but not least, technical support with maintenance, care or follow-up costs is very extensive. The use of media must be planned precisely: For which target group and what are the didactic goals? What value do they have?
The LVR-APX is always breaking new and innovative ground in education and mediation. Visitors to the museum will find classic hands-on stations, media terminals or a virtual reconstruction complementing the large city model of the CUT with moving images. The app, which is currently limited to the park, giving an overview of the reconstructions will be extended to the museum. As a project, the LVR-APX and 13 other museums develop a new app in cooperation with the Rhine-Waal University of Applied Sciences. With the help of beacons, virtual and augmented reality, visitors shall explore the museum and develop their own personal avatar. For the new special exhibition “Warenwege – Warenflüsse. Handel, Logistik und Transport am römischen Niederrhein” (27.07. – 25.11.2018) an interactive media station was designed in the form of a trading simulation. The aim is to give families, children and young people in particular a playful approach to the central exhibition topics of transport and logistics.
Finally, an outlook on the project “Entdeckerforum” will be given. The aim of the project is to convey archaeological methods to a broad public in a new permanent exhibition area. With the use of innovative media technology (e.g. projections, Pepper’s Ghost technology or narrative-immersive rooms), archaeological research is to be conveyed in the way it is conducted in Xanten. The exhibition is conceived as a hands-on exhibition and combines elements of a classic exhibition (display cases, text, graphics) with interactive stations.
Keywords: Museum Education and Mediation, Hands-on, Innovative Media Use in Exhibitions, Archaeology, Open-air Museum
The X marks the spot – Using geo-games in teaching archeology
University of Cologne, Germany
Digital media has influenced the viewing and learning habits of students for the past decades. At the same time teaching habits in archaeology have not changed to the same extent: frontal teaching and lectures are often still seen as best practice. However, teachers in universities should also apply new methods and didactics to their curriculum to engage students in diverse learning settings.
A popular approach of digital teaching/learning is the use of e-learning portals and gamification methods. The portals support innovative teaching methods like flipped classroom or blended learning approaches that can have an interactive note. Especially gamification-methods are strongly influenced by the gaming industry that invests big money in new developments and techniques. In almost all of these cases students learn in a closed environment such as auditoriums or their private rooms.
Another approach that uses parts of e-learning portals as well as gamification is geo- or edu-caching. The University of Cologne tested this teaching/learning method in two seminar courses at the Archaeological Institute in cooperation with the Humanities Computer Science in two lectures. The main goal of the course was to design virtual geocaching quests that students had to solve by using mobile devices on an archaeological site. The two showcases were the Roman city of Cologne and the late Roman vicus of Nettersheim.
On the one hand development of geogames allowed the students to use their expertise in digital media while learning archaeological facts. On the other hand new impulses were given through the change of learning environment and the use of self organized learning. Topics such as storytelling, App-design and project steering were as important as the archaeological knowledge. Teaching methods such as clustering, project learning and evaluation of different project sections were used to get the best possible learning outcome. An accompanying website documented the progress of the seminar and backed up all results including the code of the tool.
The student`s feedback attending the seminars was very positive. Better motivation, learning in an open environment outside the classroom and practical experience usable for later jobs were the most stated advantages. After these first test lecturers the need for a modular system that could not only be used for archaeological topics but referred to other subjects such as art history, politics or history was seen. The LVR Northrhine-Westfalia’s system Biparcours could be a possible solution and will be tested as teaching and learning tool for archaeological excursions in the coming semesters.
The paper will describe the held seminars, requirements and outcome as well as a future perspective of this method for teaching and learning. The usefulness of this method for excursion seminars especially will be discussed.
Keywords: Educaching, Geocaching, Teaching, Gamification, E-learning
Inclusive gaming at the museum – Can app games help us with becoming a more inclusive place for visually impaired visitors?
Foundation of the Neandertal Museum, Germany
The Neanderthal Museum is currently launching a project to make its permanent exhibition accessible for blind and visually impaired visitors. With a scheduled start in January 2019, the project will include research on the usability of apps and serious games for inclusion in the museum. A sub-goal is to design an inclusive text adventure in the form of a museum app game that combines NFC- or beacon-based indoor orientation with audio elements as well as touchable exhibits and labels (similar to GPS-based apps like BlindSquare and text adventures like CrisisLine). Along 18-25 smaller stations within the permanent exhibition, visitors will be able to play a Neanderthal-focused gaming experience. Each station combines the digital level of the app game with audio input, tactile exhibits, tactile writing and tactile orientation plans.
The app game should enable all our visitors to visit and enjoy us independently from any helpers. Alongside the creation of this app, we also aim to update our museum building with a tactile guiding system, tactile museum plans and accessible infrastructure. In order to create a viable and helpful product, we are in close contact with our local organizations for blind and visually impaired people. They already took part at creating the project’s concept and will be further included in the creation of the game as well as in the regular evaluation of its prototypes.
Keywords: Inclusion, Permanent Exhibition, App Games, Blindness, Visual Impairment
Learning by design: the use of video game mechanics to explain the past
University of Edinburgh, UK
Video games are one of the most appealing media at our disposal to communicate knowledge about the past. The unique combination of interaction and storytelling they offer allows the player not only to see the recreated world, but also to experiment it in ways that cannot simply be achieved by any other media.
This potential is still not fully exploited because the creation of a new media format always generates new learning opportunities. A number of recent initiatives are using video games to explore in alternate ways complex topics such as cultural traditions, climate change or mental illness. This work aims at promoting discussion on the ways archaeology can use this context to increase its visibility in society.
We are also interested on exploring the main challenges and benefits of using video games in contrast to what can be achieved through other media such as cinema or literature. The engagement of a player with a game is explained by the fact that the player needs to take an active role inside the recreated world. This world should always be crafted to strengthen game mechanics and this requirement presents a challenge to anyone that wants to use games for archaeological outreach; the most accurate version of the past will be meaningless if the story, characters and dynamics of the game are unable to capture the interest of the player. As a consequence, the creation of an video game created to communicate the past should be guided by the basic requirement that the game needs to be fun.
The need to accomplish two parallel goals (player engagement and outreach) introduce a difficult tradeoff with serious impact on game design and learning methods: what are the best approaches to combine knowledge transmission with fun? Does the goal of dissemination affect the process of game design? Can an educational game even compete with high budget projects while seeking for players’ interests?
We present here the creation of “Ancestors”. This video game is based on the UNESCO World Heritage archaeological site of Atapuerca, Spain. Our main aim is to promote discussion on the unique decisions taken during the design of a video game purposely created to present recent discoveries on human evolution to a wide audience typically not engaged by common outreach iniatives.
Keywords: Video Games, Atapuerca, Human Evolution, Game Design, Learning