Gamifying Digital Manuscripts

Beyond the book viewer prototype, the Old Books, New Science lab intends to use this research project as the basis for developing a video game that would explore the aforementioned issues of manuscript digitization, literary transmission, and narrative authority. We hope to recruit renowned novelist Margaret Atwood and twitter phenomenon @LeVostreGC (“Chaucer Doth Tweet”) in developing the narrative of the game, which would center around the manuscript of a new Canterbury Tale that has been written by Atwood and donated to the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library. During the process of digitizing the manuscript, however, a hacker group led by the digital consciousness of John Gower infiltrates the Fisher’s digital archives and fragments Atwood’s Canterbury Tale, scattering its pieces into digital books held in IIIF-compatible repositories around the world.

The objective of this game is to explore virtual renditions of libraries and investigate manuscripts that have been corrupted by the textual intrusion. Archivist tools are employed to unearth and solve puzzles that in turn debug these manuscripts and free the fragments of the poem trapped within their pages. After collecting a number of fragments, the player returns to the Fisher Library and attempts to reconstruct the lost Canterbury Tale upon a 2-D manuscript page. His or her unique interpretation and arrangement of the poem is then used as the basis for rendering a 3-D virtual story world, which the player must finally enter in order to resolve the game’s narrative.