Using games to visualize the past is nothing new, but there are good and bad ways of doing so. There is technology for augmented reality historical vexing (which can be problematic); when mainstream games try their hand at history they also run into issues. I’ve tried my hand at making historically-grounded games (read about mine here) it can be a challenge balancing playability with historical accuracy.
Circa 1948 (App Store) is an interactive story for iOS that captures life in the city of Vancouver in 1948. It’s an NFB project examining two communities in Vancouver that no longer exist. The work is noteworthy as it goes beyond being just an interactive story on the iPad.
Gamesuace interviewed the lead designer, Kelly Richard Fenning, about what it was like making the app from a technical and historical perspective. Their development process was haphazard and chaotic, but hey, they shipped!
In order to make the historical aspects engaging for gameplay they had to make some modifications. Nothing out of the ordinary, but in my experience some teachers fail to realize that sometimes accuracy needs to be sacrificed for engagement (it’s very easy to discuss these accuracies after the game).
As for the characters in the app, nearly all of them are fictitious. That being said, we were able to interview many people who were alive in these communities, and they shared stories about some of the more “colorful and notable” people and events of the time. From these stories, Douglas worked with screen-writer Chris Haddock and playwright Kevin Kerr to create some original characters and situations that were amalgams of these stories.
They were able to get funding (which is not an easy thing to do!) by mixing different art projects into one:
In addition to the app, they wanted to create a multi-contextual experience around it, so the Circa 1948 Storyworld is not just the app, but also a historically informative webpage, a Stan Douglas photo series, the immersive projection-map installation (as featured at TriBeCa and touring major cities), and the stage play of Helen Lawrence itself. (Although not a film as originally intended, Helen Lawrence became a ground-breaking play where stage actors were filmed against blue screen and composited and shown to the audience in real-time into the digital environments we developed for the app).
Thanks to Mike!
Today marks the 100th year since the outbreak of the Great War and I’ve spent some free time in the last few months looking into the history of the Great War. Relatedly, I’m trying to get some games about the war made. The games I’m designing are about the insanity of war and the outright bizarreness of the First World War. There are so many things about the war that strikes modern minds as outrageous or, more bluntly, stupid. At the time, the decisions made were sensical. These are the issues I want to address.
Along with the team at Wero Creative, we’re planning on releasing a couple short games. The first one is pretty much done, Scapa Flow (which began at a game jam), the next will be titled Trench. If possible, I would also like to address the battle of the skies and some of the political aspects of the war.
I studied the war during my undergrad and it captivated me. The mixture of new technology, outdated logistics, old customs, hubris, economic shifts, and bizarre politics created a situation that was rife for conflict. History repeats itself and today we find ourselves in a similar situation (albeit with different roles).
So here’s some research on the Great War I’ve collected over the past few months. This should give you a bit of a primer on the war as a well as good jumping-off points to get more information (this is by no means comprehensive).
First, like most big events in history, the war still has reverberates today:
For something with a cursory and very, very, very short summary of check this video out:
The wonderful people at Zooniverse are trying their crowdsourced genius at history. They have launched Operation War Diary, which aims to transcribe and geocode the diaries of frontline soldiers.
These diaries contain the thoughts and observations of soldiers on the Western Front. They detail the location, movement and everyday activities of hundreds of thousands of individuals whose stories are otherwise unknown to us. With 1.5 million pages to go through, there are many amazing stories lying in these documents, waiting to be read.
By tagging people, places, and more on http://www.operationwardiary.org you can help our team of historians to begin to reconstruct the lives of the First World War for future generations. This is an incredibly important project and we’re very excited to be working with The National Archives and the Imperial War Museum to make it happen.
Worthwhile sites to explore for a plethora of information:
Please share more in the comments!
This is specifically research I did for Scapa Flow.
The German Naval Blockade of World War 1
The Battleships – Jutland: Clash Of The Dreadnoughts
This first documentary is about the history of genre-defining video games of the past. It has extensive research into obscure games that were clearly ahead of their time. The genres covered are:
5 Genre-Defining Games Forgotten by History
This next documentary is all about EVE Online which is a game people seem to enjoy watching more than playing. If you’re new to the culture around EVE or unfamiliar with it check this documentary about EVE’s largest convention. Fun fact, the production was crowd funded.
A Tale of Internet Spaceships