Challenge 9

In addition to the Final Challenge, I decided to add a review of a twine confessional game from itch.io called Walkies (http://norapinephrine.itch.io/walkies-simulator), in which you are a dog owner that has the tiring task of taking said dog for a walk.

As you play the game, you discover that you are playing through a regular day in the life of this dog owner. You awake in a normal apartment, can decide to have breakfast or take a shower, as well as always having an eye on your dog, Essie.

Eventually you’re forced to take Essie out for a walk, and the player can go through multiple activities with Essie, of course including going to the park and scooping some poop.

While the game is not a good representation of history in the way we’ve come to expect it, this game demonstrates the key aspects of the Confessional game. The character in the game is directly linked to the creator, as this was most likely an experience they had. The game shares a personal (while mundane) tale through interactivity, and leaves the player expecting the unexpected to occur.

Final Challenge

For the final challenge post I decided to look at the projects that were submitted to the class, and compare them in terms of how well they communicate good history. In order to exhibit good history the program must exhibit history in a way that is engaging enough for it’s respective audience to enjoy using and yet demonstrates the ability of digital technologies to examine the infinite perspectives of every event and conflict. These programs must also be able to instill the games content into the player in order for him/her to learn.

The article on Medieval Manuscripts and densitometers was an interesting first read in terms of looking at digital history projects. The ability to determine the intensity of the use of these manuscripts from hundreds of years ago is certainly an important technology. The densitometer’s ability to measure fingerprints and damages to historical manuscripts is definitely an example of good digital history. These machines able us to see which pieces of writing were deemed the most important, based on frequency of use and other factors. While the densitometer research is not exactly interactive, the studies being done reveal real life rituals that were followed through digital technology.

The Virtual Paul’s Cross Project is also an example of good digital history. This website allows historians to listen and see a digital recreation of John Donne’s Sermon for Gunpowder day, November 5, 1622. The program allows the visitor to observe the sermon from many different locations within the churchyard, each giving a different viewpoint of the occasion. This project is also not overwhelmingly interactive, as users are simply watching and listening to the digital recreation of the event, however the site does demonstrate the importance of Donne’s Sermon, where he states that good subjects owe their trust and obedience to the monarch regardless of whether he is a good king or bad.

Next I looked at the Visualizing Emancipation project, from the University of Richmond. This program is a digital representation of the fall of slavery, using maps to demonstrate the regions which fell first, as well as to track the movements of slaves during the civil war. This too is a good example of digital history, in terms of the interactivity that it provides, while at the same time demonstrating its content to be learned in a broad way that encompasses the entire movement to abolish slavery. Players can dive in to different issues that go along with emancipation, as well as look at different historical sources that explain the circumstances.

To contrast, I read up on the console game Never Alone, a game based on Alaskan folklore where the character plays a young Alaskan girl and her pet fox that must stop an eternal blizzard. While the game is certainly an interactive recreation of history, I would hesitate to call it good digital History. The game passes along Alaskan lore in collaboration with real Alaskan people but in terms of teaching history it may not stack up.

For the most part, each of these games is a good digital representation of history, and each game has strengths in terms of ability to engage the player, as well as interactivity. These projects each demonstrate good digital history and it’s ability to communicate key historical narratives through programs that can include vast amounts of information that can be conveyed through the narrative or function of the game.

Critical Play

Minecraft:

Player trying to create a war bunker by digging underground, lit with torches. Another player built a house which had signs on it to leave messages for other players that may discover it. The players were both leaving structures that could be found in the future and that would have other players questioning the origins of the structures.

Amnesia The Dark Descent:

The player was searching through a 19th century mansion that was seemingly vacant. This left the player questioning both the contents that were left over within the house as well as what may have happened there. As the player continued to search the house seemed to tell the story of the events that occurred, but leaving holes for the player to use their imagination to decipher the past. Player uses the items around them (lamp, books) to unscramble the mystery of the mansion.

Braid:

Before entering a world, the player reads about what has happened in the game’s world before the player enters the game. In Braid the player can reverse time in order to change the actions they made before dying or making a bad move. The player can use this tool to complete levels and change the history of the Braid universe. Players can collect puzzle pieces to complete the large challenges, or simply move through the levels to move on.