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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The final battle has begun!

Perhaps the title sounds a bit dramatic, but certainly this week has been and is, the final battle of our video-game. After an exhaustive collection of data and images in Malton, and taking pictures of really impressive objects everywhere, the fateful week arrived.

We didn’t just talk about ideas or possible stories that could take place in our game. We had reached a point where we had to make final decisions and certainly, I was a bit stressed because of that. At the beginning of the first week everything seemed very distant, we had time, there was no need to look to the sky for ancestral inspiration that never came. So on Monday, after discussing what would be the exciting life of our characters, and after having received all the instruction we would need, we got to start on the real work.

We distributed the tasks so that everyone could do a little of everything. (Although, at the time of deciding who would take care of the Photoshop task, the room was silent and I think that I could hear my own contained breathing.) However, none of us got rid of that part of the work. The truth is that before, I  had never had to do anything with Photoshop and if I needed it, I just asked someone else. This time I would have to get into it completely, there was no escape. So I decided to choose what I thought it would be the simplest task, the starting image. However, how naive I was for  believing that something in this tricky program would be easy.

There is a wall of sticky notes.
The page of to-do tasks we had ahead on Monday (Photo: Tara Copplestone)

After an hour of trying to change the gray and cloudy sky that appeared in the original image (I think it was an hour but it seemed to me endless) I finally got a bright sky that invited to enter the Roman fortress I managed to find. But to my surprise I saw that nature was making his own trouble in the photo, spoiling it with some bare and rare branches on the top of the image. So after declaring in my heart an eternal hatred of Photoshop, I decided to look for another image. But as my “mastery” in Photoshop had improved after my infinite practice, it was shorter.

Later we decided to create in a definitive way the history that our characters would have to go through, which, I have to say, was quite interesting. So we put in the video-game everything we had ready. Although I, with my chameleonic abilities, had avoided the disaster of taking care of that part of the work as much as possible, the truth is that I was impressed with what we had achieved in one morning, it seemed like a real game. I could not help feeling in my inner self relief because everything sounded very good when we put it into words, but from there to become reality was something else.

So once the first part of the programming was done, the next day we continued doing the second part. This time I chose to make the narrator’s Photoshop that although was not as complex as that impossible sky, it seemed to want to make fun of me, as every time I put it in the game there was a little white dot that had escaped from my sight. At least we almost have it, I just hope I do not have to duel again with Photoshop.

***

Quizás el título suene un poco dramático, pero sin duda esta semana ha sido y es la batalla final de nuestro videojuego. Tras realizar una exhaustiva recolección de datos e imágenes en Malton sacando fotos por doquier de objetos realmente impresionantes, llegó la fatídica semana.

Ya no solo hablábamos de ideas o de posibles historias que podían tener lugar en nuestro juego, habíamos llegado a un punto en que debíamos tomar decisiones y ciertamente me estresaba un poco. Al empezar la primera semana todo parecía muy lejano, teníamos tiempo, no había necesidad de mirar al cielo en busca de inspiración ancestral que no llegaba nunca. Por lo que el lunes tras discutir  cual sería la emocionante vida de nuestros personajes y tras haber recibido toda la instrucción que podíamos necesitar, nos pusimos manos a la obra.

Tara Copplestone is shown in front of a white board.
Tara helping to organize our game, to make it reality. (Photo :Harald Freidheim)

Nos repartimos las tareas de modo que todo el mundo pudiera hacer un poco de todo. Aunque a la hora de decidir quién se encargaría del Photoshop, la habitación quedó en silencio, hasta creo que se podía oír mi respiración contenida. Sin embargo ninguno nos libramos de  esa parte del trabajo, la verdad nunca había tenido que hacer nada con Photoshop y si lo necesitaba se lo pedía a alguien, pero esta vez iba a tener que mojarme de lleno,no había escapatoria. Por lo que decidí escoger lo que a mi parecer era la más simple, la imagen del inicio. Sin embargo, que ilusa  fui al creer que algo en este engañoso programa sería fácil.

Tras una hora de intentar cambiar el cielo nublado y grisáceo que venía con  la imagen original( creo que fue una hora pero a mi se me hizo eterna) por fin conseguí un cielo brillante que invitaba a entrar en la fortaleza romana que había conseguido encontrar. Pero cual fue mi sorpresa al ver que la naturaleza estaba haciendo de las suyas en la foto, estropeándomela con unas ramas desnudas y raras en la parte de arriba de la imagen. Así que tras declarar en mi fuero interno odio eterno a Photoshop, decidí buscar otra imagen. Además como mi “maestría” en Photoshop había mejorado tras mi infinita práctica se hizo más corto.

Más tarde, decidimos crear de manera definitiva la historia  por la que tendrían que pasar nuestros personajes, lo cual he de decir quedaron bastante interesantes. Así que nos dispusimos a poner en el videojuego todo lo que teníamos listo. Aunque yo, con mis habilidades camaleónicas, había evitado el desastre de hacerme cargo de esa parte del trabajo en todo lo posible. Pero  la verdad es que quedé impresionada con lo que habíamos conseguido en una mañana, parecía un juego de verdad. No pude evitar sentir en mi fuero interno alivio, porque todo sonaba muy bien cuando lo exponíamos en palabras, pero de ahi a que se hiciera realidad era otra cosa.

Por lo que una vez realizado la primera parte de la programación, al día siguiente continuamos haciendo la segunda parte. Esta vez elegí hacer el photoshop del narrador que aunque no fue tan complejo como aquel cielo imposible, parecía querer burlarse de mí porque cada vez que lo poníamos en el juego había un algún puntito blanco que se me había escapado. Al menos ya casi lo tenemos, solo espero no tener que batirme en duelo otra vez con Photoshop.

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!