Archaeogaming is the archaeology in and of games. Assassin’s Creed Odyssey’s Discovery Tour presents history through gamification and interaction with points of interest. These points of interest display and present information along with a 2D static image to illustrate the text. These static images come from various global locations. The locations of each of these artifacts have been mapped using ArcGIS online and are presented here to enable a discussion and facilitate research regarding where the source images come from.
With the release of the Assassin’s Creed Odyssey Discovery Tour, there has been ample conversation surrounding the game and the Discovery Tour. While playing through the Discovery Tour myself, I noticed the presented metadata of the 2D static images presented at the points of interest and in the “more info” sections of each tour. The metadata, displayed at the topic of the screen, suggested a variety of locations and time periods from which the static images were taken. From 19th Century works of art to Archaic Greek antiquities, the range in the type of 2D images associated with the text and specific tour locations was clear. Even more, the the present locations of these artifacts and works of art struck me as an interesting investigation. In looking at the metadata of these static images, I noticed a range of temporal and spatial locations which may reveal a bit of insight into the the development of the game and potentially the utility and impressions of the Greek world on the players.
Screenshot (by author) of a Discovery Tour point of interest. Note the metadata for the background image presented at the top of the screenshot with the title, interpretation, and image description present to the left.
It was in this line of thinking that plotting the spatial locations of the physical museums from which the images were taken in a geographic information systems (GIS) map. To start, the metadata had to be collected from the game. Fortunately a contact at Ubisoft provided an html file containing all of the metadata and the images themselves, rather than having to manually visit each Discovery Tour point of interest and taking screenshots to gather the data. With this html file, I began sorting through the varying locations from which each static image was taken. With such a large undertaking, I recruited two of my colleagues to help me with this effort: Rebekah Munson and Madeleine Kraft. We gathered each of the 85 different sources present in the metadata and provided added coordinates for the specific location of the museum as well as provided a count for the number of artifacts from each different period and entered the data into a spreadsheet. For images within the public domain or by a specific individual, we reverse image searched the pictures on Google or found the real world location of the place pictured. This was employed most commonly in regard to contemporary site photographs.
Screenshot (by author) of the ArcGIS map showing the coordinates for the physical locations from which the point of interest static images were taken.
15 November 2019