Gameplay as Interpretative Cultural Heritage
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This paper investigates how digital media and screen-based navigation can be utilised to provide engagement with prehistory. In light of the importance of material remains and the increased pressure of tourism, it is important to find creative solutions to physical visitation that continue to provide meaningful experiences for visitors. Rather than revisiting the more familiar questions of digital preservation and conservation, the paper explores how computer game techniques can be applied to create compelling cultural experiences. Rethinking digital interaction for cultural heritage is located in the architecture of Mnajdra, a Maltese Megalithic temple and recent work by game researchers and archaeologists. Focusing on the spatial structure of the oldest freestanding monument the paper proposes that the role of spatial navigation and praxis is central to an embodied understanding of the past. It extends on the phenomenologically inspired investigations on the Mnajdra temple by Christopher Tilly and David Turnbull to suggest that participatory knowledge emerges from the performance of movement in both physical and digital spaces (Tilly 2004, Turnbull 2002). Using examples from computer game design, the paper argues that the inclusion of spatial navigation and visual perception are important for considering end-user interaction with digital heritage. Describing temple morphology and forms of user agency, the paper addresses how the visitor might interact with prehistory through the construction of interactive scenarios that create cultural and social presence. It demonstrates how gameplay techniques can be developed for an exploration of temple spaces that speak to and encourage a more phenomenological informed encounter with the past. Such concerns are formative ones for the crossover between archaeology, heritage research and digital media. New knowledge in this area contributes to further understanding of the procedures international communities might use to construct new modes of engagement for cultural heritage. This research is also applicable to the development of protocols for sharing heritage material across international archaeological communities, museums and commercial ventures.
IADIS International Journal on WWW/Internet
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