Digital scholarship blog

22 January 2013

Videogaming meets cartography: Students are challenged to go "Off the Map" in a new competition

Last Friday, despite concerns about the snow, I was very pleased to host the launch event for a new competition, which challenges Higher Education students to develop an original videogame concept using the British Library’s world-famous cartographic collections as creative inspiration.

The Off the Map competition, a British Library partnership with annual videogame festival GameCity and software company Crytek, will provide students with asset packs, which contain maps, including one showing a proposed plan to rebuild Stonehenge and another featuring London just months after the Great Fire of 1666. These materials were carefully selected by my colleague Tom Harper, the Library's Curator of Antiquarian Mapping, who writes regularly at the British Library's Magnificent Maps Blog.

Students from participating universities and colleges have complete creative freedom, using CryENGINE 3D technology, to interpret the asset pack materials as they wish. It is hoped that entrants will use the competition to try new approaches and to create interactive environments that challenge the definition of what a videogame, and a map, can be.

It was wonderful that the British Library's Chief Executive Roly Keating and also Life President of Eidos Ian Livingstone CBE, were able to speak at the launch event and give their encouragement to the competition. Ian said: "I'm delighted to see the launch of this new project, bringing together the heritage and esteem of the British Library's collection with the bleeding edge technology. Once again, GameCity are starting new conversations about videogames and pointing to the future for this most vibrant of art forms."

To find out more about Off the Map, go to

Personally I'm very much looking forward to attending the GameCity8 festival in October 2013, when the winning entries will be announced and showcased. So watch this blog later in the year for a post describing what the students have created for the competition.

Stella Wisdom, Digital Curator, The British Library







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