Global backing for video game to bring Medieval Aberdeen to life

Gaming enthusiasts from around the world have backed a new project to bring medieval Aberdeen to life.

Inspired by the thriving interest in the period thanks to the success of Game of Thrones, Lord of the Rings and other creative media influenced by medieval life in Europe, historians at the University of Aberdeen launched an ambitious plan to create a new video game based on the city’s world-famous Burgh Records.

Their Kickstarter campaign to bring alive the stories and characters contained within the thousands of pages of the documents, which are recognised by UNESCO for their historical importance, launched on November 26.

It attracted interest from around the world, surpassing 50 per cent of its target within just two days with backers drawn from across Europe, the US, Canada, Australia and Jordan.

The Burgh Records, including the earliest council registers covering the period 1398–1511, are uniquely placed to offer insights into how the city’s residents dealt with the threat of the plague and it is from this that the game draws its title, Strange Sickness.

It will allow players to immerse themselves in Aberdeen’s history, interact with characters from medieval society and make decisions which will shape their own story.

All profits from sales of the game, once it is built, will support the Lord Provost’s Charitable Trust, which is raising much-needed funds for Aberdeen-based registered charities to help individuals, families and communities across the city experiencing severe financial hardship as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr William Hepburn, a Historical Research Fellow at the University of Aberdeen who is leading the crowd-funding campaign for the game, says the response so far has been extraordinary, enabling them to add further goals to enhance the project.

“If we reach £6,000 in pledges, this will allow us to add a prologue to the game’s narrative. Here the player will be introduced to the late medieval city of Aberdeen and its inhabitants - and will be faced with decisions that shape the main narrative which follows,” he said.

“If we can reach £7,000, that will enable us to add an epilogue to the game’s narrative. This epilogue will be set some years after the events of the main narrative. Here players will be able to see the long-term effects of their actions.

“We’ve also added in ways for new and existing backers to pledge for more than one copy of the game as a gift.”

Dr Jackson Armstrong, who leads the Aberdeen Burgh Records Project and who is co-producing the game with Dr Hepburn, said the generous response from so many to back the project has been ‘thrilling to see’.

“I think the non-profit aim of this project – to build a historically rooted game that will also help fundraise for a covid-19 charity – has resonated with Aberdonians and backers around the world,” he added.

The project has now reached over 90 per cent of its overall target and Dr Armstrong said they were hopeful they would make the fundraising goal by the closing date of December 17.

“We are now in our final campaign steps but there is still an exciting opportunity to become a backer and help make a fun and really distinctive project happen,” he said.

“While we have enjoyed support from all over the world, we could never have reached this stage without Scottish based initiatives to advance this type of creative industry.

“Organisations like the Scottish Games Network, ScotlandIS, and Opportunity North East have really helped to spread the word and the support we’ve had from ONE CodeBase has been integral.”

Anyone wishing to lend their support to the development of Strange Sickness should visit https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/commonprofytgames/strange-sickness