James Meek*; Helen Carter; John McQuilton
University of Wollongong
This poster presentation will explore the rationale behind, specific intentions in and progress to date in a project redeveloping an historical "Selection Simulation" game.
"Dispossessed, Diggers and Democrats" is an extensive set of computer based tutorials supporting a first year Australian history subject. It has recently been published by Dr. John McQuilton and Helen Carter of the University of Wollongong with Allen and Unwin and has been well received. Developed primarily in Authorware Professional, it includes a game demonstrating problems that accompanied the process of land selection, based on what actually happened on a Victorian run between 1865 and 1880.
As it stands, the simulation game has been a very well regarded component of the History CBT project. It was considered, however, that with an expansion in its scope and improvements to its interface it would make an excellent stand-alone package and to further this end, support was sought from the AUDF (Apple University Development Fund) in late 1996. A machine and software were duly offered and then gratefully received in mid-1997, thus opening the path for further progress in this interesting project.
In the current game you play the part of a selector. The aim is to select an allotment of land and make a go of it for five years. This, however, is not easy, as the local squatter, through the use of family selection, a compliant local official and "dummying", does his best to thwart your attempts.
The role-play and decision making in the game prompt you to consider such factors as unrealistic expectations of the land acts, the social power of the squatter at selection, the corruption of surveyors and the lottery involved when it came to making official complaints. In so-doing, it promotes understanding of a key components of Australian History about which there is frequent confusion: Selection.
The redevelopment project plans a more visually and aurally vivid experience, and one in which more factors are evident and at play than in the present version. This will provide a more realistic and immersive product, and one which facilitates both fun and learning. It could also be that it will produce a game with appeal beyond its currently identified market within Universities and High School libraries, possibly tapping the lucrative home education market.
The project plans a CD-ROM title redeveloped primarily in Macromedia Director, with supporting sound and vision manufactured in SoundEdit and Photoshop software. It will use the earlier game as a prototype to develop a more sophisticated version incorporating significantly more sense of space, place, personality and variability than found in the original work. It will bring to life what is currently, although very well received, a rather wooden interface by use of more realistic landscape and simple animation ,plus the use of interface personalities ("guides"). It will feature a longer time span and also include more random elements, taking into account not only factors like weather conditions as it does now, but also the size of the family, the animals bought and sold, ethnic background of the selector, role of women, etc..
Concept development is currently in train. Design should be sufficiently clarified late this year as to allow graphic and programming effort to continue and it is anticipated that the initial delivery should be ready by mid-1998.
This page maintained by Rod Kevill. (Last updated: Monday, 1 December 1997)
NOTE: The page was created by an automated process from the emailed abstract and may vary slightly in formatting and layout from the author's original.