Virtual game brings cinema collection into focus

A brand new virtual game involving a group of rebels whose quest is to regain the world of cinema from a futuristic government that has banned all films is being launched by the University of Exeter’s cinema museum.

The University’s Bill Douglas Centre, is one of the world’s leading cinema museums and through its extensive collection the virtual game rebels locate cinematic artefacts and uncover film history. The objective of the game is to bring cinema back to the people in the mythical and dysfunctional future society.  It will also help users appreciate what cinema has meant to people over the ages, and the role it plays in shaping culture. 

The game ‘Seeking the Lanternist’ was created by the artist Kate Green in partnership with the Bill Douglas Centre. It allows participants to immerse themselves in a futuristic drama through interaction with the game’s characters such as the leader Erica and her rebels, known as “Comrades”.  Players and rebels are helped by discovering the history of cinema through artefacts from moving image history held at the museum, including the Lumière Cinématographe, one of the first cameras to shoot and project films. ‘Seeking the Lanternist’ is designed to appeal to both experienced gamers and people looking for an innovative way to discover more about film and it’s past.

Phil Wickham, curator of the museum said: “It will allow out collections to come alive, helping people explore our collections in a different and exciting way. “

The alternative reality game (ARG) uses multi- media to generate a story that may be altered by participants’ ideas or actions. It all takes place in real-time, and the game experience is also shaped by characters that are actively controlled by the games designers, as opposed to being controlled by artificial intelligence as in a computer or console video game.

The Arts Council of England funded the virtual game which was also part of an ‘Out of Archive’ project commissioned by Creative England to inspire new ways to use film archives.  i-dat at the University of Plymouth were also partners in the project, helping to create the technology for the game. 

Kate Green, the artist and creator of Seeking the Lanternist’, said: “Players of the game embark on a journey through time, solving puzzles and completing challenges in order to win secret and hidden objects.  By immersing themselves into the story through interaction with characters via sound, live video and emails, players will learn about aspects of film history in a refreshingly new and innovative way.”

She added: “On discovering the world of alternative games, opportunities to bring a new experience to people interested in film were opened up.  I hope that people suspend their disbelief, dive into the two worlds of a future resistance movement and of historical pioneers and take part in discovering what cinema means today.  It’s great that we can bring history alive through an interactive and imaginative use of technology.”

The virtual game ‘Seeking the Lanternist’ is now live and available to all via the web link:  The door is open to play the game and join Erica and her Comrades in their fight to explore the world of cinema  and find out what makes the Bill Douglas Centre one of Europe’s best moving image collections.

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