Beowulf – the education video game!

Playing Beowulf is a Digital Transformations project funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council in the UK. Andrew Burn (UCL IOE) is overseeing the project and developer, Abel Drew, has completely rewritten the old Mission Maker code to update that game for, this, its latest incarnation – the Anglo Saxon poem Beowulf.

Partners are London Knowledge Lab, in collaboration with the software company Moviestorm in Cambridge. The British Library and The University of Sydney.

These activities will be supported by Anglo-Saxon scholars at UCL, who will also run workshops for undergraduates, and contribute to the scholarly effort to consider what game adaptation can contribute to the interpretation of Beowulf.

The 1000 year old manuscript Beowulf has been in the possession of the British Library (initially as part of the British Museum) since 1753 and they have now made it available for all to browse on their website: .

The manuscript is unique and sadly can no longer be handled due to its partly damaged state, which means it crumbles upon contact. Viewing the document electronically is now the most viable approach for those interested in it, and the British Library have made it available to all via their website.

The British Library will co-design the game-authoring tool, ensuring its suitability for curators and library visitors, and collaborating in the organisation of an international conference on Literature, Drama and Game at the BL’s conference centre. They will also run Young Researchers game design workshops for London teenagers. They will also host a Digital Conversation on the use of games in libraries and the GLAM sector. At the end of the project, they will host a one-day event on 7th December 2015 in the British Library conference centre: Ludic Literature, Literary Games: Playful encounters between literature, theatre, film and digital game. Further details will be circulated later in the year.

It is really a game-authoring tool based on the Anglo-Saxon epic poem Beowulf, for use by literature students in schools and universities, curators and library visitors. The games will be shown at a final event at the British Library on December 7, 2015, along with other talks, workshops and exhibitions from the project.

I interviewed Andrew, colleagues and participating teachers above.

You can read more about the game and the project here:

And here’s a little taster:

The using of a game- authoring tool rather than just a Video Game is interesting.

Video games have been around for over 35 years in one form or another now and are a cultural phenomenon whether people like it or not and it is always fascinating to see what the research and debates are around them.

Video games have been in the news and media once more – two notable programmes on the BBC recently (at the time of writing) have been a Horizon special, ‘Are Video Games Really that Bad and the DocuDrama The Game Changers (about the controversy surrounding the launch of Grand Theft Auto in the USA and subsequent alleged copycat murders and subsequent litigation).

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