Relics or rubbish?

In these posts, I have discussed how games can give a bad view of archaeology, how archaeological research has been used within games, and how games have the potential to educate about archaeology. However, there is also an archaeology and a history of gaming, as an industry.

At the beginning of 1982, the video game industry was doing well. It was still a relatively new industry, and was flush from a successful Christmas season, typically the time of year that sales are highest. However, there was a trend of games made extremely quickly and of poor quality, resulting in an oversaturated market, and consumers that quickly tired of this. The industry crashed in 1985, and nearly resulted in the end of the industry entirely. One of these games, indeed the one that was most notorious, and widely regarded as one of the main causes of the crash, was the Atari version of Steven Spielburg’s 1982 film, E.T. This game was created single-handedly, over a period of 6 weeks (Reinhard, 2015, pg. 86). To put this in perspective, the best-selling game of 2016, Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, (Tassi, 2017)- while not having a favourable reception from fans, or a great reputation as a series- was in development for three years, with an entire company working on it (McWhertor, 2014). Atari, the game’s publisher, confident that the game would sell without issue, produced millions of the cartridges before the end of the year.

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Education and Video Games

Many teachers are beginning to use ‘gamification’ in their lessons. This is the idea of using game mechanics within the lesson being taught, and can be used in any subject, not just those related to technology. This can include countdowns, tracking progress in comparison to classmates, or achievements for reaching certain goals (Daniels, 2012), and can introduce an element of fun, and friendly competition in to lessons, in addition to encouraging co-operation (Loiseau et al., 2013, p.36). This post will assess how these elements can and have be used to enhance lessons, and engage students. Continue reading

Languages, Archaeology and Far Cry

Cha Winja warhamas! – We speak Wenja here!

The Far Cry game series is known for its fast cars, big guns and bigger explosions, which is why it was a surprise for many when Ubisoft announced Far Cry: Primal. Set in 10,000 BC, Primal follows the story of Takkar the Wenja trying to reassemble the members of his tribe, taming big cats and mammoths as he goes. Despite the fact that both Takkar and his people are fictional, the creators of Primal used real archaeological research in their game. What makes this game somewhat revolutionary is that none of the voice acting is English, or any other language that most would recognise. In Primal, both the language Takkar speaks, and the languages of his enemies, were developed by Andrew and Brenna Byrd, Assistant Professors of Linguistics at the University of Kentucky, and were derived from the ancient language Proto-Indo-European, or PIE. PIE was spoken around 6000 years ago, (Mallory, 1989, p. 7) and is the fore-runner to most modern European languages, including some which have gone extinct.

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Lara Croft, Grave Robber?

When I tell people that I’m studying Archaeology, the response often goes one of two ways: ‘Oh, like Tomb Raider!’, or ‘Like Indiana Jones!’ It is no surprise that many people’s first impression of the discipline is of pop culture icons, given mass media’s love of stories about adventures in wild lands (See Figure 1)- and at least they’ve got the right end of the stick, unlike those who misunderstand and get dinosaurs or architecture- that ends up being a very different conversation. In all reality, you are unlikely to be in charge of locating a lost civilisation at 21 years old (as in Square Enix’s Tomb Raider, the 2013 reboot of the Lara Croft game series), and much more likely to be at university still. However, despite the implausible circumstances, the impact of these pop culture icons on the public’s view of the discipline cannot be understated. Continue reading