A new series of free expert talks is helping bring ancient civilisations back to life through video games.
Playing in the Past, an engagement project led by Southampton University PhD student and gamer Gemma Renshaw, will explore digitally recreated worlds made primarily for games, in a series of live broadcast events.
Using the 2017 action-adventure video game Assassin’s Creed Origins, Playing in the Past will resurrect ancient Egyptian life in cities such as Thebes (modern-day Luxor), and give viewers the chance to discuss these re-creations with Egyptologists, archaeologists and historians.
The hour-long broadcasts will feature talks from an expert, an in-game tour and the opportunity to ask the experts questions and further explore areas of the game.
The first broadcast takes place at 3pm on Thursday 4 February, where Gemma will be joined by Egyptologist and broadcaster Dr Chris Naunton and historian Dr Kate Sheppard.
Gemma, who is also a professional in the museum sector, explained: “Video games are all about immersing yourself in new worlds but through this series we’re going to immerse ourselves in old ones. We can explore places that don’t even exist anymore, alongside experts who’ve dedicated their lives to the study of this incredible ancient civilisation.
“Between now and July we’ll host broadcasts on a wide range of topics from Ptolemaic Thebes, death and the afterlife, to ancient craft and tech, culminating in a panel discussion about gaming representations of ancient worlds.”
Egyptologist Dr Chris Naunton, said: “I am far from a gamer but after Gemma took me on a tour of ancient Alexandria through Assassin’s Creed Origins I was so gripped by the experience that I went out and bought an Xbox!
“What’s so great about it is that it gives you the chance to visualise these places in a way that’s completely different to how we normally engage with them. Short of a time machine this is the closest we’ll ever get to being there.”
The upcoming events will cover the following topics:
4 February – Ptolemaic Thebes with Dr Chris Naunton, Dr Kate Sheppard and Gemma Renshaw
4 March – Death and the afterlife with Dr Carrie Arbuckle Macleod, Dr Kate Sheppard and Gemma Renshaw
8 April – Ancient craft and tech with Dr Sarah Doherty, Dr Chris Naunton and Gemma Renshaw
To find out more, please visit www.playing-in-the-past.com.