Meet the Campers Who Made Digital History at DCHM

For four days in late August, talented middle schoolers descended on the New-York Historical Society to learn everything they could about the American Revolution…and digital game design. You probably already know that the New-York Historical Society is a great place to learn about the American Revolution considering that we were founded in 1804 just a few years after the War’s end. You may not associate us with cutting edge technology- but you should! Our Museum features an incredible film, touch screens throughout the building, and digital games in DCHM. To prove our faith in the combination of history and technology, we brought young people here to invent digital games that teach something about the American War for Independence. We asked two of our campers, Mollie and Christian, some questions about their experiences. You can play Christian’s game here  and Mollie’s game here. Here’s what they had to say!

DiMenna Children’s History Museum: What is your game about? Why did you choose your particular main character, story, actions and enemies?

Christian: My game is about a printer who joined the Sons of Liberty. You have to deliver flyers about events without getting caught by redcoats. The reason I chose this character, story, and enemies, is because during the Revolution spreading news among the patriots without the loyalists knowing was important.

Mollie: My game is about a young woman who decides to help out in the war effort by delivering packages of beef to soldiers on the prison ships. During my research, I became interested with the idea that even so early as the 1700′s, women could play such a big part in the war effort. My character’s enemies are the Redcoat soldiers that run the prison ships.

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Campers met with our Chief Conservator, Alan Balicki, to learn about how museums clean up and care for 18th century paper.

 

DCHM: What was the most fun part of developing your game? What was the most challenging part?

Christian: The most fun part was testing the game because I got to see if I had to make my game more challenging or easier. The most challenging part was to get text on the screen because you had to draw out every line of text by building complicated lines of events.

Mollie: I found it both fun and challenging to design levels. It was challenging to make the spaces big enough for the character to get through, yet funny to watch how the accidents turned out. Example- if you put the redcoat soldiers to close, they bounce off of each other and get pushed all over the game.

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Here campers are examining 18th century political cartoons with Marilyn Kushner, Curator and Head of the Prints Department. These, along with over 50 other primary and secondary source materials, helped influence the games campers created.

 

DCHM: What did you have to learn about the American Revolution in order to create your game?

Christian: I had to learn about the Sons of Liberty and the things they did for example the Boston Tea Party.

Mollie: In order to create my game, I had to learn about what a woman traditionally wore, learned, and much of their lifestyle. I used that to make my game more historically accurate.

DCHM: If you could work on this game forever, what new elements would you add?

Christian: I would add more levels, make better graphics, have an upgrade shop, and a score system.

Mollie: I can honestly say that if I were given forever to finish work on my game I would work on my animation.  I feel that if I had gotten more time to work on it, I would have been able to animate it better.

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Afternoons were devoted to sketching, research, and programming in the second floor classroom.

If you like the idea of history and technology, continue to check our family programs calendar for future school vacation week Camp Histories. Also, if you can’t get enough of these digital games, check out all of the games created this summer though this link. Any questions? Email camphistory@nyhistory.org.

Last but not least, Family Members get discounted registration for Camp History and can come for free to most of our programs. We are hosting a special event for Family Members tomorrow , Thursday September 12, from 4-6 pm. Email dchm@nyhistory.org if you are Family Members and you would like to come have treats, play historic games, and go on scavenger hunts.

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This is a clubhouse blog for kids who love history! It is created by the staff of the DiMenna Children’s History Museum and New-York Historical Society.
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