Developing “Scholarly Gaming Environments” via Digital Conservation of African Cultural Heritage

Teresa Barnes, Center for African Studies, UIUC
Mauro Nobili, History, UIUC
Laila Hussein Mustafa, Middle East and North African Studies Librarian, UIUC

Industry Partners: In development

Community Partners: In development

Abstract:
This project will convene a preliminary meeting and two workshop conversations at Discovery Partners Institute in Chicago in 2019-20 with Illinois-based computer science faculty, practitioners of 3D imagining technology, game theorists, artists and video game development companies to begin developing a new product: historically accurate and compelling “scholarly gaming environments” on African historical themes. It will contribute to the digital conservation of ancient cultural heritage on the African continent. The workshop conversations will decide what specific forms the products should take, the kind of content they might encompass, the cultural heritage sites and materials which should be prioritized, and a development timeline.  Once developed, the platform of “scholarly gaming environments” will have wide applications to other heritage conservation projects and disciplines.  

The primary goals of the project are the development of innovative educational products in gaming and/or virtual reality formats and the digital conservation of vulnerable African sites and materials. It will offer needed educational and heritage products to both US- and Africa-based partners. The interdisciplinary and public/private workshop conversations will explore what specific forms the products should take, the kind of content they might encompass, the cultural heritage sites and materials that should be prioritized, and the resources that will be required.