I spent the weekend at a social game-making event in Johannesburg called Global Game Jam. The purpose of this event was to gather people interested in making games and encourage them to produce their games. The event was global, so people all around the world gathered in pre-defined locations and created games to match the theme announced.
How on earth does this have anything to do with computational archaeology? Well, I believe it is a great way for computational archaeologists around the world to meet people with the technical knowledge they may seek. The community did not only consist of software developers and technical artists, but all kinds of people who wanted to learn how to make games. Additionally, people had the option to make any form of game, including a board game, so you needed no technical knowledge to join. By attending a Global Game Jam as a computational archaeologist you can:
- Learn a bit of programming: which can be useful if you want to make software for archaeologists or get involved in data mining.
- Learn some 3D design: which can be useful to model archaeological artefacts.
- Learn how to make an interactive 3D world: and therefore create interactive models of the archaeological sites.
- Meet people: these people can help you in a computational archaeology project or teach you some extra skills. Additionally, it doesn’t hurt to gain some more friends
- Brainstorm with knowledgeable individuals: you can speak to people about ideas you have but don’t know how to implement, get more ideas and gain some feedback.
I was in a team with my two friends, Christien and Jade, representing women in computer science in some way. Our game was called BitCloud and details can be found here. The game, although not complete yet, has a lot of potential, and we hope to finish it soon for people to play. The code is open source so people can contribute to it if they want, here is the repository.
I also had an interesting surprise at the event. When I mentioned to one of the participants that my masters is in computational intelligence and archaeology, he told me about a project in Cape Town that involves computational archaeology. The project is called the Zamani project and it is a project aiming to create a spatial database of African heritage sites. Check their website out here, they deal with 3D models, laser scans, archaeological plans, geographical information systems, 3D landscapes, remote sensing, digital images, photogrammetric images and panoramas. Having computational archaeology so close to where I live is quite exciting I will see if I can get in touch with the researchers for some interesting conversation.
So as you can see, as a computational archaeologist you can gain quite a bit from attending one of these fun events. To find out more about this event check out @MakeGamesSA on twitter and look for the tags #ggj14, #ggj and #ggjsouthafrica (if you want to check out how our game jam went :D).