Reflections at the end of all things

As part of the conclusion of the module, the student participants were asked to reflect on their participation.

Emily

What do you consider to be the main learning outcomes of the module? What will you take away with you after completion of the module?

From this module I have learnt and developed many skills that I otherwise would not have had the chance to. Including; programming and coding, photoshop editing, communication within a group and working with a real museum to develop a product that will be used in the heritage world. Moreover the main learning outcomes I have achieved from this module are perspective and communication. Working with a group has meant that compromise, coordination and allocation of tasks has been key, possibly mirroring working within the heritage sector in my future career. Perspective has been crucial as understanding what the museum wanted and being able to fit this to their environment was something I have never done or thought about. The chance to work on a project that will be used in the real world is something that is not usually offered to first years and has given me key skills that I will take with me into the following years of my degree.

Do you think the fieldschool has had an impact on how you understand heritage? How?

Definitely, as the opportunity to work with a small museum has shown me the heritage world from a completely different perspective. Seeing a museum run on one member of staff and the rest being volunteers, changes the dynamic of how management choices and the organisation of the museum is decided. Additionally being able to work on a heritage project instead of solely being on the dig allowed me to see the heritage world from a professional perspective for the first time.

If you could describe this module in one word, what would it be?

Opportunity.

Hayden

What do you consider to be the main learning outcomes of the module? What will you take away with you after completion of the module?

To be introduced to how a heritage project is undertaken.
To develop teamwork and presentational skills.
To acquire a range of technical skills.

I will primarily take away a better understanding of how a project can be undertaken by a small group. Particularly, I believe I have developed my own understanding of what contributions one should make. One major point of feedback I received throughout the module was that I don’t push my opinions and ideas to the extent I should, even though I clearly have them. My justification for this was the dilemma of not wanting to cause unnecessary friction and seemingly hinder progression, yet I learned that when creating a final product, opposing opinions is vital to the process.

Do you think the fieldschool has had an impact on how you understand heritage? How?

Before taking the module, I understood heritage to be far more finite and ‘static’, in the sense that we are already naturally provided with our heritage in a tangible form, and we then make a few minor decisions on how it should be presented. In fact, it became apparent that heritage is not so definite, and is actually something that continuously develops. If we consider heritage to simply be a representation of our understanding of the past, then it becomes something very ephemeral.

If you could describe this module in one word, what would it be?

Informative

Marionna

What do you consider to be the main learning outcomes of the module? What will you take away with you after completion of the module?

I think that the main outcome for me in this module has been having to expose my ideas and learn how to work in a professional way with a museum.This was really interesting because that’s actually one of the things that I want to do after finishing my degree. Apart from that, I think it had been really enriching as it had helped me to view different ways of having to coordinate for managing an important work in only two weeks. And also having to learn how to treat our public while they were testing the game as I had never had to do something like that before.

I would take away from this module the opportunity to expose our ideas, as in other modules, is more difficult to be heard if you aren’t fast or you are not secure about your dominance of the language. Here you are encouraged to say what you are thinking and you can feel that what you say is valued.

Do you think the fieldschool has had an impact on how you understand heritage? How?

Yeah because I always thought that Heritage was about managing expositions, making leaflets, and create boring posters to announce amazing exhibitions that nobody use to visit . But here I have realized that is more than that, It’s gaining people’s interest, especially those who just don’t bother about culture. It’s making them realize what are they missing and show them that it’s actually interesting and exciting. I realized of this while doing our game, as our main goal was that players learned something in an interactive way,having fun in the process.

If you could describe this module in one word, what would it be?

Different

Isobel

What do you consider to be the main learning outcomes of the module? What will you take away with you after completion of the module?

I consider the main learning outcomes of the module to be able to create a video game, which meets the needs of our clients, and provides both entertainment and education to the visitors of the museum. Alongside this was the learning outcome of working together with various groups of people, and to learn skills such as CSS, Photoshop, and photography.

I will take away from this module, the ability to use Twine, a program previously I had no idea how to use, I now know the best way to photograph archaeological artefact to enhance its intricate details. On top of this I have learnt, about the complexity of Heritage as a discipline, and it has allowed me to gain a greater understanding of the area of work I hope to go into in the future. Working together as a team has also taught me more about myself than I would ever imagine, and I feel like my ability to work in a team has improved vastly over the course of the module.

Do you think the field school has had an impact on how you understand heritage? How?

The field school has definitely had an impact on how I understand heritage, before I started I had a vague idea that heritage involved museums and historic buildings. This module however, has taught me the importance of digital elements in the world of heritage, and how by embracing the technology of the 21st Century it can allow people to create a connection to the historic and prehistoric past. Archaeogaming is not something I had heard of, but now I can see the important role it plays in heritage, and helping people understand heritage and archaeology as disciplines.

If you could describe this module in one word, what would it be?

Eye-opening!

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How long would you survive in Roman Malton?

Friday saw the birth day for our game, consisting of painfully intense conversations about narratives and object choices. Despite our discussions bordering on gladiatorial combat, we can finally reveal the premise of our game!

How long would you survive in Roman Malton?

You are thrown into Roman Malton, where you must use your historical knowledge, creativity and intuition to survive for as long as possible. Guide our siblings, Lucius and Claudia, to thrive or suffer an early demise based on your decision making! The game follows them through their three main life stages of early life, middle age and old age exploring what it was like to be a real live Roman in Malton. Answer the questions correctly and progress  through the life stages, or get it wrong and start again. Set in and around the Roman fort and town of Malton and inspired by the objects recovered at the site from various excavations, from military to marriage and farming to weaving the game leads you through many aspects of Roman society. See Roman artefacts which have been out of the public eye, in the museum stores, brought back into the spotlight once again.

You’ll need your wits about you to survive..!

Today we leave you with our fantastic game panels. Tune in next week for the launch of the game!

Pitch Day!

In this post, three of the module students, Marionna, Hayden, and Isobel, share snapshot views of their first heritage and interpretation pitch, made to the Malton Museum on 8 May, 2017.

Marionna:

Quizás este  proceso de diseñar un videojuego parezca largo y tedioso, y no voy a mentir, lo es. Aunque nuestra rutina sin duda no tiene todo el ajetreo y la presión de un arqueólogo de la vieja escuela, los cuales tenían que realizar la búsqueda, la publicación de sus hallazgos y la promoción de sus exposiciones  , sin duda sí que llevamos el espíritu de sus investigaciones, el estrés. Durante el día de hoy, tras realizar un pequeño repaso de nuestros artículos para el blog , nos dirigimos de nuevo hacia Malton.

En esta ocasión la reunión no me  pareció tan aterradora puesto que en esta ocasión podíamos contar con que ya llevábamos una idea del videojuego que queríamos hacer y que más o menos creíamos que podía cumplir con las expectativas de lo que se esperaba de nosotros.

The students draw on tablets to make materials for the meeting.
Preparing our meeting materials. (Photo: Marionna Sandin)

Por lo que, una vez nuestra dibujante oficial  había realizado todos las imágenes necesarias para ilustrar la idea que había surgido de aquel torbellino anterior, nos dispusimos a exponer nuestra idea, todo estaba hablado y ensayado. Sin embargo,en el momento de abrir la boca aunque las palabras parecían surgir como un torbellino de mi cerebro, el muy traicionero le dio por no querer traducir lo que estaba pensando. Así que, durante un milisegundo, solo se me agolpaban palabras en mi propio idioma, y yo solo podía pensar “Por dios espero que nadie haya notado mi lapsus mental”.Finalmente mi cerebro decidió dejar su descanso y pudimos terminar nuestra presentación tranquilamente. Seguimos con la reunión para intentar definir los últimos puntos flacos que quedaban pendientes, pero nos dimos cuenta de que la información que realmente teníamos sobre Malton en la era romana era bastante escasa. Pero menos mal que vamos a recibir la visita de un experto sino no me imagino el desastre que habríamos ocasionado.

Maybe this process of designing a videogame seems long and tedious, and I won’t lie, it is. Although our routine certainly does not have all the hustle and bustle of an old school archaeologist, as they had to perform the search, post their findings and promote their exhibits. Certainly we carry the spirit of their researches, and the  stress.

The students and instructors wait in the York train station to go to Malton.
Heading to Malton. (Photo: Marionna Sandin)

During the day, after a short review of our blog posts, we headed back to Malton. This time the meeting didn’t seem so frightening since we already had an idea of ​​the videogame that we wanted to do, and that we, more or less, believed that could match the expectations of what was expected of us. So, once our official sketcher had made all the necessary images to illustrate the idea that had arisen from that previous whirlwind, we set out to expose our idea, everything was spoken and rehearsed.

At the moment of opening my mouth, although the words seemed to emerge like a whirlwind out of my brain, the very treacherous brain just decided not to translate what I was thinking. So for a millisecond, only words  in my own language crowded in my brain, and I could only think “God I hope no one has noticed my mental lapse”. Finally, my brain decided to leave its break and we were able to finish our presentation calmly. We continued with the meeting to try to define the last remaining weak points, but we realized that the information we really had about Malton in the Roman era was rather scarce. But thank goodness that we are going to receive the visit of an expert, without that I couldn’t imagine the disaster that we would have caused.

Hayden:

After collating the ideas we gathered from the initial meeting last week, the time came on Monday to pitch our game idea back to the staff of Malton Museum. After tying all of our loose threads around our concept together, we again went through the process of a mock presentation, in front of Harald, Meghan, Sara and Tara, our Twine instructor. Oddly, this proved to be one of the most awkward scenarios I could possibly conceive. This may highlight more about my personal mindset than the general pitching process, but I find presenting an idea to a group of people who helped develop it particularly embarrassing.

It pains me to admit that this is very useful, however. Ironing out creases at this stage made the final pitch far more fluid. I just wish that we could achieve this whilst skipping the stage of looking as uncomfortable as somebody forced into joining a karaoke session.

To aid in our pitch we created some visual representations of how we envisioned the final product looking. Perhaps ‘we’ is not the most appropriate term to use, as I tactically suggested that Isobel should draw my visual aid. Indeed, the affair would have been far more awkward if the clients had to attempt to decipher the inky mess I would have created. Fortunately, with the use of my treasured legible depiction of a game screen, my section of the final pitch seemed to go rather well, as did everyone’s. I’m starting to think that these organisational skills Harald and the others are teaching us may have a lasting effect on me. I’ll believe it when I see it.

Isobel:

On Monday the 8th of May, we yet again made the short train journey to Malton. The objective of our trip this time was to pitch our idea for the videogame to the volunteers at the Malton Museum. I’m going to be honest, if you had told me before I’d gone in that morning we would have a cohesive idea for our game and that we were going to pitch it well with good feedback, I would have laughed in your face.

I had been feeling less than confident about our game ideas over the weekend, and was beginning to think we would never come up with an idea which matched everyone’s wants and needs. However, when we arrived at King’s Manor on Monday morning, despite being a group member down, we quickly settled on one definitive idea, ‘How long would you survive in Roman Malton?’ and before my brain could quite comprehend it, our game was born.

The pitch itself was also making me nervous, I have plenty of experience in performing and public speaking but the idea that the quality of our pitch was the decider on whether we could go ahead with our game definitely made me uneasy. Despite this though as I pitched our game idea, and explained the premise of it I felt confident and calm, all doubts drifting away like leaves on a windy day.

New Year, New Project

Last summer, halfway through my first year as a PhD candidate, I was asked to help tutor on the University of York’s Digital Heritage Field School, offered through the Department of Archaeology and led by Dr. Sara Perry, my supervisor. The result of the summer term’s work was the Hidden Dale project. It was an incredibly rewarding experience working with undergraduates on their first large-scale heritage interpretation project, and so when I was asked to help out again this year, I didn’t hesitate in saying yes.

This year’s project is quite different — different stakeholders, different institutional partners, different product, different skill set to emphasize in teaching the students. We’re working with Malton Museum, an entirely volunteer-run community museum, and we’re building a video-game to help highlight the museum’s extensive Roman collection. In the course of this project, the students will learn photography and photo editing, audio recording and editing, game design, graphic design, exhibition skills, and will get lots and lots of experience in heritage practice.

For my part, what I’m bringing to the project is help in teaching (alongside my fellow PhD candidate Harald Fredheim) and a background in game design. I worked for several years as a content creator and team leader at a small, independent game studio, and being able to share the lessons I learned in that part of my life with my students, in a practical and implementable way, is something I never expected would happen in the course of my PhD.

Today, after an initial meeting and a lot of back and forth planning, the students will present the pitch for their Twine game idea to the museum. I can’t wait to see how it goes!