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Crowdfunding a book on archaeology & video games

Academia and games. One is for serious people who only have time for research, the other is a pastime best avoided if you are or want to be one of these serious people, right? Not at all!

VALUE’s (Videogames and Archaeology at Leiden UnivErsity) mission is to show just how to be serious about games and bring games into your serious academic work. Since the formation of the group after a talk by PhD student Aris Politopoulos on Orchaeology in World of Warcraft last year, they have done this through their very own research on the interface of archaeology and video games. VALUE, consisting of Aris, Csilla Ariese-Vandemeulebroucke, Krijn Boom, Angus Mol and Vincent Vandemeulebroucke, has covered wide-ranging topics in their video game explorations so far. Now they are looking to publish The Interactive Past: A book on archaeology and video games, via Kickstarter.

For the Public, with the Public

“We are not looking to hoard our video game knowledge”, says Csilla, “instead we want to share it with as wide an audience of academics and non-academics as possible.” Indeed, the members of VALUE write both in academic outlets as well as reach out to the public through new media like blogs, streams, Facebook and Twitter. The aim of the Kickstarter, their most recent and most exciting undertaking yet, is to raise money for the open access publication of The Interactive Past. VALUE doesn’t want to publish an academic volume that no one will be able to access, instead they want to open up the discussion to a wider audience. And, boy, does that audience exist!

VALUE is certainly not the only one working on this exciting new archaeological field with a gaming twist. Archaeologists from all over the world have been doing similar research and writing about it on their blogs (eg. Archaeogaming and Gamingarchaeo). However, this research has not always been academically published or, if it has, it’s not always accessible.

Collaborative Conference

“We thought it was high-time that archaeologists, as well as game developers, historians and other professionals came together for the first time in real life,” says Krijn. “Thanks to support from ARCHON, the Graduate School, Leiden University Fund and the Centre for Digital Heritage, this will happen on the 4th and 5th of April.” On those dates The Interactive Pasts Conference (TIP-C), world’s first archaeogaming conference will be taking place right in the Main Hall of our own Faculty of Archaeology. Some of the papers presented there will end up in The Interactive Past book.

“But only if the Kickstarter is successful,” Csilla is quick to point out. “We know this is going to be an excellent book that will be of interest for archaeologists, game developers and other video game enthusiasts, but we need funds to pay for its open access publication through Sidestone Press.” It looks like they are going to make it, since their project has at the moment collected almost 60% of the funds with 20 days left to go. Still, they could use some help to make the world’s first crowd-funded archaeology book a reality! So, if you like the idea of crossbreeding some game theory into your archaeology, or vice versa, the project is taking more pledges via Kickstarter until the 27th of March.

If you want to check VALUE out first, you can join them on March 23rd at 16:00 in the Main Hall of the Van Steenis for their upcoming event: Streaming the Past: Violence and Human Nature (in Far cry Primal). You’re also more than welcome to register for the Interactive Pasts Conference (programme, abstracts, registration).

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