Buried is an ergodic literature game created in tandem by Tara Copplestone and Luke Botham as a proof of concept for Copplestone's M.Sc dissertation, and was subsequently entered into the 2014 Heritage Jam competition where it won the 'best remote team entry' category.
The game itself takes the form of ergodic literature, an interactive story inspired by the choose your own adventure style books. You play as a young archaeologist who has just returned from a field season and is grappling with the ups and downs of personal life, academia, archaeology, the past, the present and hopes for the future.
The choices you make propel you down one of 17 unique paths, each of which is further modified 50 times before a (albeit fleeting, and temporary) conclusion of the story is reached. The structure of the game invites you to play it again and again. To explore the 'what if's' of archaeology as it relates to you personally as well as to the wider academic and public spheres. Whilst playing you will be challenged to think about the seemingly simple concept of 'burial' in a multiplicity of ways, you will be asked to form your own ideas, make your own decisions and shape both your introspective and world views on the topic.
Those who are archaeologists themselves will find copious references to familiar concepts as well before being challenged to consider the underpinning frameworks and structures of the discipline alongside how these can and do shape the wider discipline. Those who have no experience with archaeology are offered pathways to explore the multivariate elements of the discipline in a progressive and easy to understand way.
The simple visual style and reliance on pure-text stresses the important role which the written and spoken word have in the transmission, recording and interpretation of the archaeological record.
The game and source files presented here are those which were created for the heritage jam itself. Plans are underway to update the files into a less intensive format which is readable on mac and linux devices as well as the existing windows compatibility.
Several digital-heritage commentators have subsequently critiqued 'Buried', their thoughts can be found below under the external links tab.
The image above demonstrates just one of the many epilogues that can be created as an epilogue. Play the game for yourself here
Click here or on the image above to play the game. Will open in a new tab. As it is a large file it can take some time to load.
Click the left hand image or here to download the paradata directly to your hardrive (note: only compatible with HTML5 supported browsers. Does not work on IE or Safari). Click the right hand image or here to open the paradata pdf in a new browser tab.
Buried won the 'best remote team entry' at the 2014 Heritage Jam Awards. Click on the award icon above or here to check out the other entries as well as the comments on Buried!
The judges described buried as:
"Buried is astonishing in its many layers of meaning, rich creative assets, and technical ability. It references a broad range of academic, theoretical and popular culture woven into a narrative which is at once universal (at least for archaeologists) and personal (becoming more so as the player moves through its many branching baths, investing their own time and understanding). This is a visualisation but also a meditation, inviting return visits and many, many play-throughs (do we detect a hint of The Stanley Parable?). The art, the creative writing, the creative game design, and the full (dare we say, inspiring) paradata are all at the heart of the goals of the Jam."