Cross-cultural Learning, Heritage, and Digital Games
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In 2007 China began to host science fiction conferences. An invited speaker, the British writer Neil Garmin (2013), said their reasoning was to encourage innovation. So the Chinese visited Apple, Microsoft and Google to discover that the forward-looking and innovative workers at these companies credited science fiction with helping their imagination. Gaiman’s motive was to encourage reading, especially of fiction, but it also underlines another aspect to culture. A substantial part of our current and past cultures rely on a large amount of escapism, idealism, intangible values and implicit yet shifting belief systems. The cultural geographer Yi-Fu Tuan (1998) even went so far as to declare the basis of culture to be that which is not seen: “Seeing what is not there lies at the foundation of all human culture”. This definition raises two interesting dilemmas for the visualisation of past cultures. How do we see what is not there? And how can we convey a sense of a past or distant culture if we are in fact attempting to simulate their symbolic expressions of escape? This chapter will try to answer the questions via two case studies of student projects: a game-simulation of the Chinese literature classic Journey to the West; and four touch-screen games that attempted to convey a conceptual rather than literary-based expression of the four great arts of China and of Taoist thought. Issues in developing digital heritage applications for different cultural audiences will also be discussed.
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