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Vindolanda online game

Vindolanda Adventure: New online game opens up fort's history

Published on: 8 September 2022

A new educational resource for budding video gamers and archaeologists set at the ancient Roman fort of Vindolanda in Northumberland launches this weekend.

‘Vindolanda Adventure’ is the result of a unique collaboration between experts at Newcastle University, the UK’s largest games development studio Creative Assembly, and the Vindolanda Trust.

Combining the worlds of computer science, gaming, and archaeology, players journey back to Hadrian’s Wall at the start of the 2nd century AD and through a series of mini-games and adventures discover how our understanding of life on the Roman frontier is still relevant today.

This online game and exhibition brings to life real-people from the world-famous Vindolanda tablets, Tagomas and Lepidina, with the aim of helping children learn more about computer science and the ancient world.

Tagomas is the standard bearer for the Vardullian (Spanish) cavalry based at Vindolanda. Lepidina, wife of the fort’s commander, is a wealthy woman of considerable influence and the invitee of perhaps the most famous of the Vindolanda writing tablets, the Birthday party invitation, which contains the earliest example of a woman’s handwriting in Europe.

Through these characters, players embark on a series of mini-games that they must complete to achieve their quest to attend the famous birthday party. On their journey, they will visit the online archives and battle enemies in the training arena.

The online archives offer a variety of educational resources and activities for children that can also be accessed outside of the game – they offer a wealth of material on archaeology and the video gaming world that supports learning at home and in the classroom. These resources also demonstrate to children the many career opportunities open to them through studying computer science, history and archaeology.

A scene from ‘Vindolanda Adventure’. Image courtesy of the Vindolanda Trust.

The game uses 2D animation and original artwork to bring the ancient world to life in a fun and vibrant way and builds on the latest research carried out by Newcastle University on Roman Britain.

Dr Claire Stocks, Senior Lecturer, said: “This project is an exciting collaboration between Newcastle University, Creative Assembly, and the Vindolanda Trust. The game and exhibition will support learning in the classroom and at home and shows how studying the ancient world and computer science can be fun and exciting. We hope that it will show students the possibilities that are open to them if they choose to study these subjects further.” 

Funded by Arts Fund, the exhibition game is aimed at Key Stage 2 students (7-11-year olds) but can be enjoyed by any age.

Barbara Birley, Curator at the Vindolanda Trust, said “By using the foundations of artefacts and the archaeological site, this project has developed an innovative way for young people to interact with their ancient past. Through the mini games the children will get to develop their skills in understanding Vindolanda and the Romans. In the games archive, they will discover how games are developed and encourage them to consider careers in the heritage industry or games development.”

The technical development of the game and exhibition was led by Newcastle University’s GameLab, which has worked with many of the world’s top game studios such as Creative Assembly, since it was launched more than a decade ago. Together their expertise underpins the game’s design and programming.

Joanna Green, CSR Lead at Creative Assembly, said: “Our expert games developers have worked closely with Vindolanda Trust and Newcastle University to showcase the role games can have in historical storytelling. Additionally, we’ve provided mentorship and bespoke content to see the exhibition come alive.”

Access the game here:

There will also be two game days taking place at Vindolanda on 17th and 18th September, when visitors will get the chance to play Total War: ROME REMASTERED. For more information, visit the Vindolanda website.  

Press release adapted with thanks to the Vindolanda Trust.  

Lepidina, with the birthday party invitation, the earliest example of a woman’s handwriting in Europe. Image courtesy of the Vindolanda Trust.

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