The year is 1830. You are the surgeon superintendent aboard a convict vessel transporting human cargo from Britain to the ends of the Earth: Van Diemen’s Land (now Tasmania). You are charged with delivering several hundred convicts to the colony in the shortest time with minimum loss of life to make money and further your position. How will you manage?
Full of humour and with a strong educational base, The Voyage can be played individually or in groups and is available free through the museum’s website. Based on 10,000 real historical records and with strong Australian Curriculum links, The Voyage brings history alive for students. The game was launched in Tasmania last November, and has been played by over 6,000 people, representing an average of 240 players / day during school term. We also found high engagement with the game: an average playing time of 25 minutes and 40% repeat players. Student feedback so far has been extremely positive, for example:
I like how it is a game, instead of a teacher up the front teaching you about it. With all the interactivity, it makes it feel a lot different. With a book you’ve got your imagination as your limit but this allows you to make decisions. This makes me more interested, normally in history I find it a little bit boring. (Felix, aged 10)
Thanks for the opportunity you gave to the kids for the game launch. Will learnt a lot and was very proud of himself. Funny thing is, he’s dyslexic so he really does struggle to read and relies on visual cues and listening. So the style of learning an interactive game promotes is perfect. My Dad was a history teacher. He would have been chuffed. (Parent of Year 5 student)
The museum’s objectives in being involved in providing a game for educational audiences were to increase national (and international) reach; meet key areas of Australia’s National Curriculum; undertake collaboration and partnerships; while providing players with an authentic, curated experience based on solid historical research. Games have also been identified as one of key trends for museum education in the future and the museum is now being seen as an industry leader in this area.
While several museums and galleries across the world have developed games for a range of audiences, The Voyage is unique as it is based on detailed historical data, utilising documented ship paths, convict and medical records and diaries, giving players an authentic experience that other games don’t offer. Another key innovation was that while developing The Voyage, extensive research was undertaken with Year 5 and Year 9 students by museum staff in partnership with academics from Griffith University, Queensland, via a university industry seeding grant.
The museum has also developed numerous digital resources for teachers, students and parents that cover many areas of Australia’s National Curriculum, including historical inquiry, design and technology, geography, maths and English, as well as game development and design. A highlight of the online resources is a series of four films created by Roar Film addressing themes around convict descendants; convict historians dispelling myths about convict life; the experience of women and children; and the challenges of making a game that was fun to play, yet historically accurate. A small pop-up exhibition comprising four text panels, and four iPads configured to play the game, as well as a number of museum objects, are available accompany the game as a touring offer to small museums, libraries and community centres. This tour started in 2016 with displays in Adelaide and Port Lincoln (both in South Australia) and Portland (Victoria). The game has also been included in the London schools curriculum through the London Grid for Learning. Currently a set of lessons are being developed for publishing to the museum’s iTunes U platform.
Play The Voyage (Please note that the game works best on Safari, Firefox and Google Chrome browsers).