new project 2: 3D and GIS

The following was a successful grant, funded by the Curtin Institute of Computation.

Title: Leveraging Low-Cost and Free Linked Open Data and Hybrid GIS/3D For Cultural Heritage Visualisation (6 months)

The program/research plan:

The two ECRs with the help of the two Curtin Professors will investigate the use of an application, possibly the Pelagios Framework (, an online portal that can combine maps, charts, documents, pictures and dynamic data, to create interactive visualisations and predictive cartographic analysis tools.

pelagios.pngFigure 1: Pelagios

This pilot study will explore whether the application can accept, display and dynamically link to 3D models and their subcomponents, using GIS Data so that maps and 3D models can be displayed and interacted with online. This specific application theoretically accepts simple 3D stl models but three.js and web3D models have not been investigated. Existing related examples: see

The two ECRS will derive a 3D model with GIS related data and design an online Pelagios Commons framework (or similar) for viewing a 3D model of a heritage site, preferably in Australia, that controls place elements in a side-located text document or an online map or chart and vice versa. shows some of the possibilities of Linked Open Data, but not how 3D can interact with a LOD GIS platform.

Proposed engagement of external and community groups

  1. Firstly, we will collaborate with the following non-CIC staff at Curtin to develop the Curtin University workshop.
  2. Secondly we will invite members to test the prototype and provide feedback and potentially collaboration and grant opportunities.
  3. We will test the prototype with archaeologists, heritage specialists or architects in another Australian city. The longer-term aim is to engage them in applying for a linkage to design a more permanent and larger collection and online portal for a more highly featured, user-friendly and robust design.

For an interesting potentially related interface please see

new project 1: HMD Augmented Reality Heritage Trail study

The following was a successful grant, funded by the Curtin Institute of Computation.

The program/research plan:

In 2016 the Chief Investigator (CI) organized a one day talk and workshop on cultural heritage visualization, (“GLAM-VR”, Curtin HIVE, ) and helped facilitate a related makerspace event (“Cultural Makathon at Curtin Library Makerspace”, URL: ). All groups of students finished their projects apart from one single individual group encountering trouble designing inside a 3D game engine. For the Augmented Reality 2016 makerspace tutorials, there was similar difficulty in finding suitable tutorial material. Unfortunately, there are few tutorials and examples for augmented reality and 3D game engines for hackathon or makathon events. There is even less material for cultural heritage augmented reality tours. And there is no academic feature list survey and comparison of recent augmented reality headsets for cultural heritage tours, where one walks along a heritage trail using the augmented reality headset (HMD) for augmented information.

This 2017 pilot study will aim to resolve this issue by providing an exemplar, online resources, a white paper and

  1. The two ECRS will develop a simple digital 3D environment prototype which reveals cultural heritage assets, artefacts and landmarks when viewed inside a portable head-mounted display (HMD) or augmented reality HMD.
  2. We will compare the relative strengths and weaknesses of the above HMDs, run an evaluation on test subjects of preferred display, time required to navigate and to wayfind, and record participants’ task performance and memory recall.
  3. We will create a white paper for this, including suggested workflows and appropriate tools.
  4. From the above findings we will provide an online available training course for developing Augmented Reality cultural heritage tours for head Mounted Displays.
  5. There will be a pilot workshop at CURTIN LIBRARY MAKERSPACE

Digra 2017 Workshop: Playtesting

This workshop proposal has only been provisionally accepted for Digra2017 international games conference in Melbourne Australia, on 3 July 2017, we need to convince the organisers on how it will run.

What do you suggest? It should be more generic, more hands on? More focused or more open and free-ranging? We’d love our CAA2017 participants to attend, but we’d also be more than happy if those who can’t attend Georgia Atlanta in March can attend this start of July, in Melbourne Australia (not Melbourne Florida!)

Playtesting, Prototyping & Pitching History & Heritage Games

This half-day workshop brings together history and heritage experts, interested game designers, and designers of game prototyping tools. The approach is to playtest each idea presented and provide an avenue for feedback by audience, organisers, and other presenters. It will follow on from a game mechanics workshop run at CAA2017 in Atlanta in March but will aim to extend and polish game prototypes.


Playtesting, pitching, prototyping, archaeology, heritage, history, archaeogaming, serious games.


In March 2017 in Georgia Atlanta for the Computer Applications and Quantitative Methods in Archaeology ( conference, the two workshop organizers will run a session (Mechanics, Mods and Mashups: Games of the Past for the Future Designed by Archaeologists) on the initial topic, how to playtest pitch and present archaeology games. At DiGRA, with some of the initial presenters but also with new presenters, we will focus on how to pitch and prototype to and with game developers and potential clients, as well as how to perform game scenarios to reach new potential audiences and markets. The general field of research has become known as archaeogaming (Reinhard 2013), which “can include, but is in no means limited to: the physical excavation of video-game hardware, the use of archaeological methods within game worlds, the creation of video-games for or about archaeological practices and outcomes or the critical study of how archaeology is represented in video-games.(Wikipedia contributors 2016). There may be specific issues that distinguish heritage (Champion 2015) and history (Chapman 2016) games but there are also common themes, authenticity, accuracy, imagination and how interaction helps learning.

As it is for DiGRA, we are also interested in theoretical papers that examine and suggest answers for issues in converting history, heritage and general archaeology projects into potential games.

Relation to DiGRA themes: Game cultures; games and other cultural forms; communication in game worlds; games criticism; gaming in non-leisure settings; game studies in other domains; hybrid and non-digital games; history of games; game design.

The major objectives and expected outcomes of the workshop

Improved prototypes, enhanced critical discussion and feedback of prototypes, and potential open access book.

Justification for the workshop informed by current trends and research

Despite the increasing range of courses (Schreiber 2009), books (Fullerton 2014) and presentations (Lewis-Evans 2012) on game design prototyping, there is still a paucity of available game design prototype tools (Manker 2012) (Neil 2016, 2015) and a lack of venues for archaeogaming developers and related experts to present, pitch, playtest and perform their game prototypes (Ardito, Desolda, and Lanzilotti 2013, Unver and Taylor 2012, Ardito et al. 2009).

The format and activities planned for the workshop

Presentation and playtesting of games, feedback from audience and one of the other presenters.

Potential tools: Gameplay cards, game prototyping tools, scenes or videos from a 3D editor or game editor (Unity, Unreal, Blender), board games as prototypes, playing cards, physical artifacts that are role-played by the presenter, illustrations, slideshows, game editors (like the SIMS: used to make films (Machinima), roleplaying videos, flowcharts, interactive fiction (like We will provide a fuller list of tools and examples to potential attendees before the workshop.

The duration (half- or full-day) of the workshop

Half-day for 6 presenters.

The anticipated number of participants

Participants: 26 maximum (ideally) where 6 present. We require half an hour a presenter so three hours for 6 presenters, 6 hours a whole day if we want to go to 12 presenters. Ideally the non-presenting audience is not too large, preferably up to 20.

How participants will be recruited and selected

Via an online website we will create, and mailing to digital archaeology and heritage and serious games groups.

Publication plans arising from the workshop activities

We will approach a creative publisher (Liquid Books, University of Michigan Press or other) to provide an online or printable output of the demonstrations and the audience feedback.

Citations and References

Ardito, Carmelo, Paolo Buono, Maria Francesca Costabile, Rosa Lanzilotti, and Antonio Piccinno. 2009. “Enabling Interactive Exploration of Cultural Heritage: An Experience of Designing Systems for Mobile Devices.” Knowledge, Technology & Policy 22 (1):79-86. doi: 10.1007/s12130-009-9079-7.

Ardito, Carmelo, Giuseppe Desolda, and Rosa Lanzilotti. 2013. “Playing on large displays to foster children’s interest in archaeology.” DMS.

Champion, E. 2015. Critical Gaming: Interactive History and Virtual Heritage.

Chapman, A. 2016. Digital Games as History: How Videogames Represent the Past and Offer Access to Historical Practice.

Fullerton, Tracy. 2014. Game design workshop: a playcentric approach to creating innovative games: CRC press.

Lewis-Evans, Ben. 2012. “Introduction to Game Prototyping & research.” Slideshare, Last Modified 16 December 2012, accessed 24 January.

Manker, Jon. 2012. “Designscape–A suggested game design prototyping process tool.” Eludamos. Journal for computer game culture 6 (1):85-98.

Neil, Katharine. 2015. “Game Design Tools: Can They Improve Game Design Practice?” PhD PhD, Signal and Image processing. Conservatoire national des arts et metiers, CNAM.

Neil, Katharine. 2016. How we design games now and why. Gamasutra. Accessed 24 January 2017.

Reinhard, A. 2013. “What is Archaeogaming?” archaeogaming, 24 January.

Schreiber, Ian. 2009. ““I just found this blog, what do I do?”.” Game Design Concepts – An experiment in game design and teaching, 9 September 2009.

Unver, Ertu, and Andrew Taylor. 2012. “Virtual Stonehenge Reconstruction.” In Progress in Cultural Heritage Preservation: 4th International Conference, EuroMed 2012, Limassol, Cyprus, October 29 – November 3, 2012. Proceedings, edited by Marinos Ioannides, Dieter Fritsch, Johanna Leissner, Rob Davies, Fabio Remondino and Rossella Caffo, 449-460. Berlin, Heidelberg: Springer Berlin Heidelberg.

Wikipedia contributors. 2016. “Archaeogaming.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 24 January.

CAA 2017 Mechanics, Mods and Mashups session

Our session of presentations, projects, play-testing, game pitches for CAA2017:
March 14-16, 2017: ATLANTA

Mechanics, Mods and Mashups: Games of the Past for the Future Designed by Archaeologists

“I Don’t Want to Set the World on Fire”: Ruin Interactions and Attitudes in Fallout-Emily Jean Booker

Video games are a popular form of media, with over 155 million gamers in America today, and they thus serve as a unique way to analyze how pop-culture can influence public perceptions of the past. The player’s ability to move through, interact with, and have an effect on virtual environments creates intimate, complicated relationships with virtual materials, including artifacts and ruins, that can have real-world effects. Although aspects of archaeology are often included in video games, the discipline is not always portrayed as scholars would like. However, as problematic as games like Tomb Raider or Uncharted might be, they are quickly becoming a key way in which the public learns about and interacts with archaeology.

This paper will explore the ways the popular 2015 game Fallout 4 shapes ruined landscapes (‘ruinscapes’) for specific thematic purposes that ultimately influence player interactions with ruins in both the virtual and real worlds. To do this, I will create a walkthrough exploring the ruinscapes of Fallout 4 and consider how the game’s strong themes of anti-capitalism and relative morality can create biases and preconceptions of Mid-Century Modern ruins.

Games like Fallout 4 are extremely popular and consumed by millions of gamers worldwide. Video game analysis is an essential element to understanding current public perceptions of ruins and, more generally, archaeology. By considering the representation of virtual ruinscapes and how their thematic underpinnings can affect popular attitudes towards ruins, archaeologists can become better equipped to engage with public audiences.

Sailing with the Gods: Argonauts and Samothracians in an Ancient Sea-Robert C Bryant, Sandra Blakely, Joanna Mundy, Cole Furrh

The goal of the Samothracian sailing simulation is to recreate the ancient social networks of Greece through the lens of the maritime infrastructure as a video game. How did maritime trade affect the societies of the Mediterranean and their interaction? By reconstructing the physical landscape of the ancient Mediterranean in the Unity3D game engine, we can study the behavioral patterns and decision making of contemporary human beings as players when placed under the same stressors and variables as their ancient Greek mariner counterparts. With this data we hope to bolster the existing social network analysis of the area with quantitative human behavior. This data is gleaned by tracking all player interactions of sailing and trading through the simulated environment to search for patterns that help explain ancient analogs. The game also serves as a ludic and pedagogical experience for the players through attached myth and literature that act as the narrative for the world. Currently, we have a working and very functional prototype already tested in a classroom of 60+ students. By the time of this conference, the prototype will be finished with plans for expansion.


How Waterloo was Won-Stuart Eve

The Battle of Waterloo (1815) as well as being the turning point in a huge European struggle has been the subject of a number of computer games. These range from the innovative turn-based mechanics of Mirrorsoft’s Amiga game – Waterloo (1989) to the sophisticated and highly graphically appealing Napoleon: Total War with a vast number in between. However, none of these games allow for a detailed examination of the individual parts of the highly complex battle, mostly focusing on the wider strategy of the day.

The charity Waterloo Uncovered is currently excavating at the battlefield in Belgium and uncovering new information every year about the minute details of the day of the battle. Our current focus is the struggle for Hougoumont Farm and we are discovering how the micro-topography, architectural structures and even the types of plants in the gardens would have affected the soldiers and how they moved and fought on the day. We would like to see how a gaming engine and game mechanics could be used to investigate this – charting the fall of musketballs (and comparing them with the recovered remains), simulating the visual and physical impact of hedges and ditches, and even modelling the build-up of dead bodies on the field and how they would have affected movement, morale and the will to continue the fight.

Blur the lines – Games as tools for archaeological research-Lennart Linde

In the past decade, Agent Based Models (ABM’s) have become a functional part of the archaeologist’s toolbox. Many ABM’s include elements of game theory in their ruleset, which is the foundation of a working model. The line between a purely scientific ABM and a video game from the simulation genre is already thin, but why not blur the line further and blend an ABM into a full-blown game experience?
The use of games as tools of research is the next logical step. Instead of formalizing our theories in a ruleset for an ABM, we could design a game based on them. Where the player makes choices through gameplay and be monitored exploring various strategies!
This talk will investigate the potential of the given approach, based on a fictive open-world game, set in the European Bronze Age. The players will have to manage resources and tackle the spatial organization of a village. They are also bound to make decisions on the social organization of their village. There is no direct interaction with the inhabitants of the game world as they act as agents. The collected datasets will be analyzed with emphasis on the correlation between certain forms of social organization and the rise of warfare, as well as on connections between wealth distribution and tensions within the tribe.
Archaeogaming does not need to be limited to the research of games anymore; we can try to take a step forward and do research through games.

Arpilleras and Ayni: Roleplaying Reciprocity-Natalie Underberg-Goode and Peter Smith

The project is based on the work of Peruvian arpillera (appliqué) artist Flora Zárate, whose three dimensional “story cloths” narrate cultural stories both of people from her native Peru and of immigrants in the United States. Although not created in the ancient past, these works illustrate very old and persistent themes found in Quechua-language (the language of the Incas) mythology and folktales such as the concept of ayni, or reciprocity, expressed in such activities as cooperative labor. In addition to identifying key themes in Andean mythology, we consider how elements of mythic thinking and Andean worldview that figure in Quechua folktales—such as the presence of religious syncretism, the relation between time and space in Andean thought, and the conception of gender complementarity and dependence—could be integrated into the design of the interactive experience based on exploration of an arpillera reimagined as board game prototype. Throughout the game, the main character will have to make choices that relate to Andean culture, including understanding and demonstrating the importance of reciprocity or, “today for me, tomorrow for you.” We will present a paper prototype using materials including paper, blocks, dice, and index cards, identifying the presence of these recurring Andean cultural themes in the arpilleras, addressing how the design is intended to present characters whose roles relate to corresponding knowledge and tasks, and how objects are linked to culturally-relevant potential uses. Participants will be invited to play through the prototype, giving feedback and making design suggestions.

Designing and Using Game Environments as Historical Learning Contexts-Juan Francisco Hiriart

The virtual presentation of landscapes in games, thanks to the exponential increase of representational power of digital technologies, has been progressively challenging the capacity of gaming audiences to distinguish virtual environments from real-world referents. This spectacular growth, however, has not been mirrored by a comparable progress in the simulation of the natural and social processes from real environments. Although highly realistic, game landscapes in most commercial titles still remain as inert theatrical scenery, devoid of any capacity to reflect the effects of human life agency and the inextricable nature of social and natural processes.
In this presentation, I would like to demonstrate a historical game prototype that I have been developing as part of a PhD research, with the purpose of investigating possible design solutions to the problem of creating game environments capable of transmitting the inherent complexity of historical landscapes. The game reconstructs Early Medieval Britain, focusing on the micro-histories of everyday life instead of more stereotypical forms of gameplay centred on the simulation of violent conflicts. Currently in its final version, the game has been iteratively produced in cycles of development and play-testing sessions with the participation of archaeologists, historians, and educators who have given valuable feedback about its design, direction, and potential use.

Curtin Cultural Makathon

Thanks to a Curtin MCCA Strategic Grant six reseachers and Library staff at Curtin University bought Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality equipment and ran two events to help staff develop digital prototypes and experiences using cultural data resources and digital humanities tools and techniques

  1. 26/08/2016 (AM) GLAM VR: talks on Digital heritage, scholarly making & experiential media (26/08/2016 (AM) 49 registrations-twitter: #GLAMVR16
    THEN Cultural Datasets In a Game Engine (UNITY) & Augmented Reality Workshop 6/08/2016 (PM) 34 registrations
  2. Curtin Cultural Makathon (11/11/2016) 20 registrations-twitter: #ccmak16 OH and before the Makathon, there was a TROVE API workshop! Or read Kathyrn Greenhill’s notes.

Our Curtin Cultural Makathon, great fun, four finished projects, excellent judges and data mentors, fabulous colleagues and atmosphere, plus pizza! Must do again but with more 3D and entertainment technology! Slides:

There are also GLAMVR16 slides:

Yes you can control the slides from your phone! if you like the technology, check out

Want Western Australian / Australian datasets for your own hackathon?


Curtin Cultural Makathon 11 Nov 2016

Hack/slash/cut/bash/scrape/mod/mash – it’s a culture thing
Join the School of Media, Culture and Creative Arts and Curtin Library Makerspace to hack cultural datasets and heritage information.

Use government, institutional research data portal, gallery, library, archive and museum information as data sources. Experiment with data for a research project or proposal; create something accessible, beautiful and/or useful using craft, games, virtual reality, apps or something else: it’s up to you.

Thursday 10 November 2016  (5pm – 7pm launch / team registration) &
Friday 11 November 2016 (8.30am – 6pm)

Lounge @ your Library, Level 2
Robertson Library (Building 105)
Curtin University
Kent Street, Bentley

Registration: Free via eventbrite

For more information visit the Curtin Cultural Makathon website.

What are the Big (not only Grand) Challenges in Virtual Heritage?

Seems to me we leave this sort of topic to keynote speakers who almost accidentally argue for a field/issue/method/tool that they themselves (research centre, department) and associates are currently working on.
Human nature. But if people who are currently not working on defined projects/tools/applications/sites met and discussed the issues what would they say? I’ll stick my neck out and say

1 Impossible to find, access and use/re-use the models, tools, paradata.
2 No consistant, standard framework.
3 No best practices, prizes*, competitions (but plenty of surveys and state of the art papers-only they read to me more as literature reviews).
4 Interaction is not saved ( not just user data but the game mechanics and interactive tools and techniques).

How would this lead to challenges?

  • Are there tools or portals that can scrape the web and auto-retrieve not just 3D models but 3D heritage models?
  • Are the aims, objectives, paradata clearly available and could we create metadata wizards that coax this into the project?
  • What incentives are needed to convince content creators to link to, record or even deposit their models and related assets?
  • Can grant agencies (with their increased focus on data management) convince applications to deposit the models and provide ranked, hierarchical, freemium levels of access and reuse?
  • Can community tools and web portals (Mediawiki, Sketchfab, Archivematica) be sharpened as kit sets for communities?

*Best of heritage? I had high hopes but I met an organiser who told me this is not primarily what Best of heritage does. It isn’t a ranking/rating/critical appraisal system but a communication of what is happening in the (museum) field.