New: Game Zero

As readers of this blog will know, the original Invisible Buildings featured 3 games: Metal Detecting, Geophys, and Mole Dig (this was an idea that we seemed to have passed on to these cute little animals: Moles unearth Roman artefact at Epiacum’s ancient fort). There was also a classroom “drag and drop” game where the dug-up items were put together, but when we moved from smartphone to tablet, we created a version that could be played in the field. This could either be done on the screen, or by manipulating the items by moving around – naturally we called this “run and drop”.

We then used this technique for a game that allows you to differentiate between “good” and “junk” items; using animal terminology we have called this Squirrel Sort. Not content with 5 games, we are now adding another with the provisional title of Game Zero – because it will be in front of all the other games.

Game Zero allows players to define the site on which they will be working. Obviously this has a close correlation with real archaeological surveys, but as important for our purpose it allows the team to check that the GPS is working properly on their tablets, allow them to get a sense of direction, to establish themselves as a team, and to orientate themselves with the surrounding scenery (previously, and now optionally we used a map overlay to do this but quite often on a field there are few significant features to map – it’s just grass!). A good sense of orientation is essential for the games that follow.

The order of play in Game Zero is to establish and mark the NW and SE corners of the site, to use the best available area of the field (not too big though, otherwise you will be running around for hours. And not too small either – a football pitch is ideal). Then to reinforce a sense of the area, the players in turn start to drop virtual markers off, around the perimeter. These can be augmented with real markers such as cones.

Once that’s done, you’re off on your adventure!