Pixel Pasts: A Resource for Exploring Cultural Heritage in Videogame Worlds

Pixel Pasts Homepage ScreenshotMy Pixel Pasts project has been in development for over a year now but I am very pleased to announce that I have made the website live!

The project is an online database which acts as a catalogue of real-world art, architecture, places and people recreated in videogame environments. The aim of the catalogue is to be a starting search point for those wanting to begin their research in historical visualisation in games. The catalogue is ever-growing, and one day will include images. If you want to suggest any database entries please let me know via the Pixel Pasts website!

Visitors will be able to search via game title, developer, publisher, historical asset name and type (architecture, art, person, place etc), period, style and location. In addition to the general search bar I am currently working on a more advanced search tool for the “Discover” page.

There will also be an articles feature if anyone interested in videogames and historical visualisation would like to contribute?

There is still a long way to go and lots of coding tweaks to make, however the basic functions of the database are in place- please bear with me whilst I make the site more user friendly!

The idea for the project came about back in early 2014 when I was writing my MSc dissertation on the pedagogic potential of using videogame technologies for exploring architectural history. One thing which would have made my research a lot easier would have been a catalogue of historical buildings recreated in videogames, both accurately or implied by the Developers. So then I started developing Pixel Pasts as a response to both my own research need and a love for historical visualisation in videogames.

My thanks in particular go out to Simon Stamp of Block for his coding expertise and assistance with the database. Look out for updates and I hope that the site will be of use to those interested in historical visualisation.

www.pixelpasts.com   —  Twitter: @PixelPasts

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HullCraft at The Space Digital Arts Day

HullCraft Participants
Recreating architecture from the Hull History Centre archives in Minecraft

Last week (19th March) team HullCraft went to Digital Arts Day at The Custard Factory, Birmingham hosted by The Space.

Myself and Joel Mills were invited to hold two HullCraft sessions where delegates could participate in building architectural archives on our live Minecraft server.

It was a fantastic day all about showcasing art and cultural activities using digital technologies and I was particularly excited about the BBC Blue Room’s virtual reality headset display.

Have a look at my post on the Hull History Centre blog to read what we got up to at the event!   I also wrote a blog post “Introducing HullCraft” for The Space website.

Thank you to The Space for hosting a brilliant day, and we are looking forward to bringing HullCraft to more events!

HullCraft Demos
Joel showing participants around the server

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We brought our recycled archives box Creeper!

I Presented at the Digital Utopias Conference

On the 20th January I was very fortunate to have presented at the Arts Council’s national conference “Digital Utopias” on the Hull History Centre’s archives engagement project “HullCraft“.

“Digital Utopias was a one-day conference which inspired and sparked debate about how new technologies are enabling creativity across the arts. The conference captured topical and diverse approaches to curation, archiving, collecting and creating from a range of art forms, from the visual arts to theatre”. (Arts Council England)

The conference was held at the Hull Truck Theatre and there were lots of big tech, arts and culture names there, from the Google Cultural Institute to the V&A! See the programme to view a full list of speakers.

As I was there representing the Hull History Centre, you can read my full extended blog post here on the Hull History Centre blog.

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The Archives in Alien: Isolation

2014-11-24_00009I’m really enjoying exploring Sevastopol station in Alien: Isolation, or rather getting brief chances when the alien is out of sight…

Stumbling across the station’s archives was a treat as now working within archives myself it was interesting to see archives from a sci-fi perspective complete with digital mobile shelving in a circular room.

An interesting Sevastolink message (the internal communications system of Sevastopol) below details archiving the born-digital text and audio records of the mail system. The message talks about how the space station has employed a specialist archivist to deal with the task of transferring these under such pressures, from information leaks due to insufficient hardware and the more deadlier threat of the extra-terrestrial. As we progress through the game we see a lot of error messages within the Sevastolink system where Mike the Archivist has either archived the messages or came across computer bugs. Quite a stressful task considering the situation!
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Minecraft and Archives : HullCraft

Do you play Minecraft and want to contribute to a real, community project based on the amazing City of Culture that is Hull?

HullCraft is an exciting new heritage project I have been involved with in my work at the Hull History Centre and the University of Hull using Minecraft. We need lots of players to join our server and recreate real historical buildings from Hull’s history, starting with the beautiful Georgian architecture of Bridlington architect Francis Johnson. All of the buildings you will create will be from the archives based at the Hull History Centre, from simple townhouses to elaborate churches.

My Georgian builds in the HullCraft server
My Georgian builds in the HullCraft server

YOUR builds will be used to create a Minecraft world of Hull’s past periods, enabling you to travel back in time, adventure, learn, collaborate and ultimately have fun!

The project is for all ages and suitable for both newbies and Minecraft experts. Parents- if you would like your child to be involved there is information on our website on safeguarding and getting started.

The HullCraft server will have its official launch at the upcoming Platform Expo event in Hull- how exciting! So if you are in Hull on 14th November come and say hi to Joel, Simon and me on the HullCraft stand, we are always looking for players to join the server.

Check out our website on www.hullcraft.com for more information about taking part.

Meanwhile….. Creeper and Steve cause havoc at the Hull History Centre. Read the latest HullCraft blog post to find out why!

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My MSc Dissertation is now Online

It’s finally online! All the 3D work I’ve been posting recently on York St Mary’s Abbey is all in this dissertation submitted for my MSc in Digital Heritage at the University of York (Department of Archaeology) 🙂

This link will take you to my page on academia.edu where you can view/download the paper:

Hannah Rice (2014) ‘Exploring the Pedagogical Possibilities of applying Gaming Theory and Technologies to Historic Architectural Visualisation’.

Abstract: This paper deliberates how gaming theory and technologies can be applied to historic architectural visualisation for educational use by museums and its pedagogical potentials. It presents a proposal for a pedagogical digital game, Pilgrim’s Peril: St Mary’s Abbey, based on a qualitative survey and the discussed issues throughout the paper on Serious Games, commercial games and digital learning methods. Issues such as authenticity, gamification, edutainment, place and narrative are also considered together with the social and cultural significance of fusing gaming with historic architectural visualisation.