So what is “The Chantry”?
With the imminent release of out latest PlayStation VR game, I’m conscious that there will be people out there wondering if it is for them. I’ve already made a post about educational games in general, so what of “The Chantry”?
Yes, it’s an “educational” PlayStation VR game, but that doesn’t mean it’s trying to “teach” you anything. There are no dates to memorise, or quizzes to answer at the end. However it’s not designed to be consumed in the same way as a normal “game” either, and getting to the end is not the ultimate goal. The average gamer could probably speed through the game in 15 minutes, if they wanted to, but that would completely miss the point.
Like the Environmental Narrative games from which it draws inspiration (i.e. Dear Esther), the aim of the game is to try and reach an understanding about what happened and how you feel about it. Rather than trying to force you to learn a lot of historical facts, The Chantry attempts to leave the player steeped in history and inspired to find out more about a fascinating story. The game takes over an hour to play through in this way.
Who is it designed for?
No surprise then that it’s primarily aimed at people who are interested in history. If you find yourself glued to history programmes on TV, love reading historical novels, or enjoy soaking up history first hand by visiting historic buildings, then this could be for you. It’s our answer to the question “what might a virtual reality history programme look like?”
We’re interested in drawing in new audiences to PlayStation VR, so we’ve deliberately designed the game to be easy to navigate and play for non-gamers. We even designed and tested a movement mechanic especially for this audience. So please do encourage your 12 year old niece, granddad and great aunt to have a go. Yes we’ve tried to give it a bit of atmosphere, but it’s a long way off “Rush of Blood” :-)
Why did you make it?
The Chantry was made as part of a European research project funded by the Horizon 2020 programme. I originally proposed the project because I believe passionately that, with the right pairing of learning content and gameplay, things we might think of as “educational” can be a natural part of what makes a game fun to play—even on PlayStation! If it stimulates an interesting discussion, provokes some reading (I recommend “Angel of Death” by Gareth Williams), or gets you to go and visit the fascinating museum (spoiler alert!) where all this happened—then it has achieved its goal.
It’s probably not something that concerns the average player of the game, but as part of the goals of the project we’re sharing our technologies (including the entire source code for the game) with other PlayStation developers. It’s built on top of Sony’s PhyreEngine, which is completely free to PlayStation developers as well, so there is a complete solution (and example game) available to anyone who wants to create similar games in future.
13 Sep 2018 / Jake / 0