Mea culpa

If you have asked me to review or write or supervise and I have not got back to you (I think I have, but there was a large 2022 backlog), I apologize. 4 overseas grant applications to review, 3 books to finish writing or editing, 4 of 8 book chapters to complete, some journal articles, and ensuring 4 PhD students submit and pass (at another university). Plus, I teach. There are some technical things I really want to upskill on. And I’m changing my research areas, a little. 2022 will be interesting.

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Book chapters task list

I know I said I was cutting back on book chapters but …

  1. Champion, E., Nurmikko-Fuller, T., & Grant, K. (2022: invited). Chapter 12 Alchemy and Archives, Swords, Spells, and Castles: Medieval-modding Skyrim. In R. Houghton (Ed.), Games for Teaching, Impact, and Research UK: De Gruyter. Invited. Chapter sent.
  2. Champion, E., & Hiriart, J. (2022). Workshopping Board Games for Space Place and Culture. In M. Lasansky & C. Randl (Eds.), Playing Place: Board Games, Architecture, Space, and Heritage. Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA: MIT Press. Invited. Chapter sent.
  3. Champion, E. (2022). Not Quite Virtual: Techné between Text and World. In B. Mauer & A. Salter (Eds.), Reimagining the Humanities. Anderson, South Carolina, USA: Parlor Press. Invited. Chapter sent.
  4. Champion, E. (2022). Ubisoft’s Archaeology and History-Making: From the Inside. In E. Champion, & J. Hiriart, (Eds.). (2023: in progress). Assassin’s Creed in the Classroom: History’s Playground or a Stab in the Dark? De Gruyter: Video games and the Humanities series.
  5. Champion, E. (2023). Swords Sandals and Selfies: Videogame Tourism. In E. Champion, C. Lee, J. Stadler, & R. Peaslee. (Ed). (2022: in progress). Screen Tourism and Affective Landscapes. Routledge.
  6. Champion, E. (2022). Reflective Experiences with Immersive Heritage: A Theoretical Design-Based Framework. In A. Benardou & A. M. Droumpouki (Eds.), Difficult Pasts and Immersive Experiences. London, UK: Routledge. Invited. Chapter sent.
  7. Champion, E. (2023: pending). Title to be advised. Invited. Games and Geography. Germany, Springer-Nature.
  8. Champion, E. M. (2023: pending). Digital Heritage Ethics (tbc). In A. Pantazatos, T. Ireland, J. Schofield, & R. Zhang (Eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Heritage Ethics: Routledge. Workshop planned at Cambridge Heritage Research Centre, UK, June 2022. Invited. Still to be completed and reviewed. Invited.
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Cultural Presence Session proposed for CAA2022 Oxford

Associate Professor Elaine Sullivan will propose a session on cultural presence (based on my writing in Critical Gaming) but also on wider issues of virtual heritage, for CAA2022, Oxford, 8-11 August (physically and virtually). It was approved for CAA2020 Oxford but the conference was postponed due to COVID, and she will need to reapply. However, if you are interested please contact her via her University of California-Santa Cruz Faculty page.

Details of her session S26 (specific details may be changed for 2022) are at (N.B. I updated my definition of Cultural Presence in the journal article Culturally Significant Presence in Single-player Computer Games (JOCCH 2020).

Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR), and Mixed Reality (XR) technologies are increasingly incorporated into university classrooms and public education in the GLAM sector (galleries, libraries, archives, and museums). The potential to use these technologies to engage students and the public with archaeological knowledge (such as site reconstructions, artefacts, or re-imagining the activities of past peoples) is exciting, but
these forms of representation, including the use of individual headsets, tablets, and personal mobile phones, come with particular challenges.

In his book Critical Gaming (2015), (free PDF) Erik Champion argued that virtual realities should express ‘cultural presence,’ the meaning and significance of a time, place, or object to people of the past.

Hyper-reality, photogrammetry, and ever-increasing levels of ‘accuracy’ in 3D models do not inherently convey aspects of cultural significance and meaning, and many VR/AR/XR experiences fall dramatically short of the goal of expressing the importance of past places and things to their original communities.

Emphasis on technological and (especially) hardware innovation often deflects attention from critically engaging with questions of meaning-making. This panel asks those creating or intensely using Archaeology VR/AR/XR to focus NOT on software, hardware, or the latest technical innovations, but on how we as archaeologists
can better design, create, or curate experiences that inspire and educate students and the public on the cultural importance of archaeological spaces, objects or themes.

What are successful techniques to aid a visitor to better understand the original context of an object now placed in a (often far off) museum or gallery? How can university instructors incorporate the (problematically individual) headset or mobile experiences into pedagogy to provide meaningful and active student learning? How can complex data be usefully layered or curated so that multiple types of museum visitors or classes could find it informative and emotionally resonant? How can we turn these increasingly popular technologies into serious spaces of cultural learning and curiosity, moving beyond the initial ‘wow’ factor?

Instead of traditional 20 minute talks, we request that participants present 8-10 minutes in depth on one VR/AR/XR experience they have designed and/or utilized in a university or GLAM setting (not a general review of multiple types of work).

We ask participants to present and explain aspects of design and interaction and their intent in that experience; or, if the content was not designed by the presenter, how content was
incorporated, curated, or enhanced for the classroom or GLAM experience. Specifically, we ask presenters to think thoughtfully and critically about how we might collectively learn to use these technologies in more informed ways, including: What types of interactions with
students or the public have shown promise, and how might we build on those successes?

What practices have not worked, and how might we learn from our failures? What particular aspects of archaeological and cultural heritage knowledge are best emphasized in the VR/AR/XR experience? What is key to re-using content created by others, including content created by non-archaeologists?

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new book project in screen tourism and landscapes

With two fine co-editors our edited book proposal on the above topic has been through the review process and judged fit for publication with helpful and positive comments.

It still has to pass the publisher editorial meeting in January but our editor there does not see any problems. Given we still need formal approval, I hope to announce more details in a month or so. We do still need a chapter or more on Asia but otherwise I am very happy with our authors and draft chapters. Congratulations everyone!

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CAA2022 potential session

Despite COVID, lack of travel resources etc, (especially to the UK from Australia), I’ve been thinking about proposing a panel/session at CAA2022 about “what is lost in the digits”-which elements, features, beliefs or interpretations are left behind or overlooked when scanning / digitally simulating…and what we can or should do about it (with a nod to @EthanWatrall). A short twitter discussion (with many points by Anton Scoetzee) followed.

So, if I think it is feasible, I will apply to CAA2022 before 17 January and post the proposal here. I can see it morphing into an open access, dialogue-friendly edited book.

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Ph.D. finally added to the University repository

I deposited my PhD thesis (Evaluating Cultural Learning in Virtual Environments, 2006) at the University of Melbourne but they only just now added it to their new system, here it is:

There is still a great deal of opportunity for research on contextual interactive immersion in virtual heritage environments. The general failure of virtual environment technology to create engaging and educational experiences may be attributable not just to deficiencies in technology or in visual fidelity, but also to a lack of contextual and performative-based interaction, such as that found in games. This thesis will suggest improvements will result from more research on the below issues:

1. Place versus Cyberspace: What creates a sensation of place (as a cultural site) in a virtual environment in contradistinction to a sensation of a virtual environment as a collection of objects and spaces?

2. Cultural Presence versus Social Presence and Presence: Which factors help immerse people spatially and thematically into a cultural learning experience?

3. Realism versus Interpretation: Does an attempt to perfect fidelity to sources and to realism improve or hinder the cultural learning experience?

4. Education versus Entertainment: Does an attempt to make the experience engaging improve or hinder the cultural learning experience?

This doctoral thesis outlines a theoretical definition of place, culture, and presence that may become a matrix for virtual environment design as well as a discussion of the advantages and disadvantages of appropriating game-style interaction to enhance engagement. A virtual environment was built using Adobe Atmosphere to test whether cultural understanding and engagement can be linked to the type of interaction offered. The thesis also includes a survey of evaluation mechanisms that may be specifically suitable for virtual heritage environments. In its review of appropriate methodology, the thesis suggests new terms and criteria to assess the contextual appropriateness of various evaluation methods, and provides seven schematic examples of game-style plot devices that lend themselves to evaluation. The test-bed is the evaluation of a virtual archaeology project in Palenqué Mexico using theories of cultural immersion as well as computer game technology and techniques. The case study of Palenqué involved five types of evaluation specifically chosen to assess cultural awareness and understanding gained from different forms of interaction in a virtual heritage environment.


virtual reality in architecture; imaging systems in archaeology; computers and civilization

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30% discount on latest book

Regards my latest book “Rethinking Virtual Places”-Indiana University Press have kindly offered a 30% discount just by using this URL (but only for customers “outside US, Canada and Latin America”):

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New Open-access Article on Mixed Reality

A new open-access article by Mr Mafkereseb Bekele, a PhD student at Curtin University and his three supervisors (myself, Dr David McMeekin and Dr Hafizur Rahaman): “The Influence of Collaborative and Multi-Modal Mixed Reality: Cultural Learning in Virtual Heritage” via @MDPIOpenAccess

Studies in the virtual heritage (VH) domain identify collaboration (social interaction), engagement, and a contextual relationship as key elements of interaction design that influence users’ experience and cultural learning in VH applications. The purpose of this study is to validate whether collaboration (social interaction), engaging experience, and a contextual relationship enhance cultural learning in a collaborative and multi-modal mixed reality (MR) heritage environment. To this end, we have designed and implemented a cloud-based collaborative and multi-modal MR application aiming at enhancing user experience and cultural learning in museums. A conceptual model was proposed based on collaboration, engagement, and relationship in the context of MR experience. The MR application was then evaluated at the Western Australian Shipwrecks Museum by experts, archaeologists, and curators from the gallery and the Western Australian Museum. Questionnaire, semi-structured interview, and observation were used to collect data. The results suggest that integrating collaborative and multi-modal interaction methods with MR technology facilitates enhanced cultural learning in VH.

Keywords: mixed reality; virtual heritage; collaborative interaction; multi-modal interaction; engagement; cultural learning

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New Book Out In The Wild

I know I have talked about it enough but I finally have a hardcover copy in my hands…

Rethinking Virtual Places

Rethinking Virtual Places

Download/Print Leaflet

by Erik M. Champion

Published by: Indiana University Press

Academic Announcements

new position and location

I start work today as an Enterprise Fellow at the University of South Australia in Adelaide, South Australia’s City West campus (Academic unit: Creative-Architecture). Happy to talk about collaborative projects on architectural history, digital heritage, and serious games.. staff webpage at

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Living Digital Heritage 2021

I was given the honour of opening Living Digital Heritage conference with a keynote today and full congratulations to Frederik Hardtke and the other organizers at Macquarie University’s Centre for Ancient Cultural Heritage & Environment (twitter @cachemq) in Sydney, a great range of papers, all presented on Zoom. Finishing Sunday 7 November (when I fly to South Australia to take on a new role so I may miss a little of it).

If you are interested you may be able to follow via the above twitter links, I don’t know if they still accept registration but it was free.

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2nd edition, Playing With The Past, 2022

Today I agreed to complete a 2nd edition of “Playing With The Past” – Springer persuaded me there was a market for an updated book due to over 10,000 downloads. But I know there is *a lot* to update over the last 11 years. Sigh. Time for some surgically precise, concise, editing.


Living Heritage

I was invited to present a keynote on Friday 5 November at the civilized NSW time of 9.15 AM (but WA time of 6.15AM!) to the Living Heritage conference, Macquarie University, Sydney. Yes it will be delivered virtually.

I’m more than happy to refer to  living digital heritage projects, both success & failure (especially illuminating failures)…


New article (open access)

A Web GIS-Based Integration of 3D Digital Models with Linked Open Data for Cultural Heritage Exploration

by Ikrom Nishanbaev Erik Champion and David A. McMeekin

Nishanbaev, I., Champion, E., & McMeekin, D. A. (2021). A Web GIS-Based Integration of 3D Digital Models with Linked Open Data for Cultural Heritage Exploration. ISPRS International Journal of Geo-Information, 10(10), 684.

In recent years, considerable efforts have been made by cultural heritage institutions across the globe to digitise cultural heritage sites, artifacts, historical maps, etc. for digital preservation and online representation. On the other hand, ample research projects and studies have been published that demonstrate the great capabilities of web-geographic information systems (web-GIS) for the dissemination and online representation of cultural heritage data. However, cultural heritage data and the associated metadata produced by many cultural heritage institutions are heterogeneous. To make this heterogeneous data more interoperable and structured, an ever-growing number of cultural heritage institutions are adopting linked data principles. Although the cultural heritage domain has already started implementing linked open data concepts to the cultural heritage data, there are not many research articles that present an easy-to-implement, free, and open-source-based web-GIS architecture that integrates 3D digital cultural heritage models with cloud computing and linked open data. Furthermore, the integration of web-GIS technologies with 3D web-based visualisation and linked open data may offer new dimensions of interaction and exploration of digital cultural heritage. To demonstrate the high potential of integration of these technologies, this study presents a novel cloud architecture that attempts to enhance digital cultural heritage exploration by integrating 3D digital cultural heritage models with linked open data from DBpedia and GeoNames platforms using web-GIS technologies. More specifically, a digital interactive map, 3D digital cultural heritage models, and linked open data from DBpedia and GeoNames platforms were integrated into a cloud-based web-GIS architecture. Thus, the users of the architecture can easily interact with the digital map, visualise 3D digital cultural heritage models, and explore linked open data from GeoNames and DBpedia platforms, which offer additional information and context related to the selected cultural heritage site as well as external web resources. The architecture was validated by applying it to specific case studies of Australian cultural heritage and seeking expert feedback on the system, its benefits, and scope for improvement in the near future.

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“Intangible Cultural Heritage and Digital Games”

I wrote a commissioned article for Tencent Games last week “Intangible Cultural Heritage and Digital Games”-as some ideas struck me while writing it I’d be happy if I can circulate it more widely if Tencent let me (the first stage is internal/company discussion).

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Invited Talk in Austria (virtually)

I’m giving a virtual lecture for DHGraz Wednesday 6 October 2021 (tomorrow): “We’re delighted to welcome @nzerik this Wednesday, who will open our Lunchtime Lecture series with an online talk on “Games as Serious Visualisation Tools For Digital Humanities, Cultural Heritage and Immersive Literacy”
More info:

Not recorded but slides are here

Digital Humanities

My trip to Finland

Thanks to the University of Jyväsklyä for inviting me here to central Finland. This is a summary of my time here and upcoming calendar events:

31/8 arrive, 3 plus hour train to Jyväsklyä.

1/9 ARC Cultural Data Engine meeting (Melbourne).

8/9 ARC Cultural Data Engine meeting (Melbourne).

9/9 Departmental staff meeting.

10/9 Virtual talk, University of Hong Kong.

14/9 Talk and workshop (photo above) at Digi & Game Center centre.

15/9 Invited questioner, ERC trial for grant interview process.

20-22/9 Two day stay at Rovaniemi, Arctic Circle. Museums.

–This week finish book chapter on difficult heritage-done.

28/9 UTS Zoom meeting-mentoring.

29/9 Online talk to students, postgraduate researchers.

30/9 Meet the new Dean.

1/10 Essay for Tencent, Book proposal review done.

4/10 Train to Tampere, Centre of Excellence in Game Culture Studies. Invited virtual keynote, ISMAR 2021: mrICHE 2021 workshop.

6/10 Invited talk, virtual, Austrian Centre for Digital Humanities, University of Graz.

8/10 train to Helsinki.


Keynote ISMAR MR-Cultural Heritage Workshop

I have been invited to keynote at the 1st IEEE International Workshop on “Mixed Reality Implications on Cultural Heritage Experience (MrICHE)” at the ISMAR2021 conference.

The talk will be delivered online (via organizer/host: Future Computing Research Lab, University of Messina, Sicily, Italy), October 4, 9.40-10.35am (Central Standard Time).

Working title: “Extending Museum Realities: Play, Presence, and Problems.”

Any great examples of challenges, successes and failures, please feel free to update me.

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Keynote and CFP: Living Digital Heritage

Call for papers!

Living Digital Heritage Conference: “Integrating the Past into the Present and Future”

Friday 5 – Sunday 7 November 2021, Sydney/Virtual

Hosted by the Centre for Ancient Cultural Heritage and Environment (CACHE), Macquarie University

If interested please send your abstracts (panel or paper) to by 1 October.

I am happy and honoured to say that I have been invited to keynote, thank you to the organizers and for their tenacity in running this conference.

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Virtual Heritage: How Could It Be Ethical?

Latest book chapter in the works:

Virtual Heritage: How Could It Be Ethical? Invited chapter for The Routledge Handbook of Heritage Ethics, Andreas Pantazatos, Tracy Ireland, John Schofield and Rouran Zhang (eds.), Routledge, 2023.

Ranging from modified adaption of commercial games (game mods) to multi-million dollar 3D visualizations and web-based projects, virtual heritage projects have showcased cutting-edge technology and provided insight into understanding past cultures. While the research field of virtual heritage (virtual reality and related immersive and interactive digital technology applied to cultural heritage) is several decades old, its specific ethical issues have not been extensively addressed.

Six issues will be discussed in this chapter: cultural ownership; the depiction of humans no longer with us; obsessions with photorealism rather than the complex topic of authenticity; environmental costs; accidental social alienation; and the gamification of serious, traumatic, or personal content.