Uncover the secrets of the Underground Railroad - with computers!
This is a secret symbol or quilt code to communicate 'safe house'. It will be included in the Underground Railroad computer game. Credit: Belvedere Academy History Club
How do you create a “choose-your-own-adventure” computer game about a hidden history that was conducted in secret, out of sight and under the cover of darkness? This task was explored by five remarkable students from Belvedere Academy as they created a series of scenarios, each with choices and consequences based upon the Underground Railroad, the code name for a network of secret routes, places and people that aided fugitives in the United States escape from Slave States to Free States. The project will be showcased on 27 July and 23 August as part of the Museum's 10th anniversary programme of free events and talks, including its Slavery Remembrance Day commemorations. In this special guest blog Gemma, one of the student collaborators, shares her experience of the project: "The project that we are working on is to create a game to show what it was like for enslaved Africans to escape using the Underground Railroad. So far we have come up with different options for the game. In this project we hope to teach people more about the transatlantic slave trade and the lives of escapees. We also want to teach people that we should all be treated equally and that no one is superior to another. A lot of people have been involved in the creation of this project: the Belvedere Academy History Club, the International Slavery Museum education team and the artist Hwa Young Jung of Re-Dock. We all believe that this project is very important and the Transatlantic Slave Trade is an era of history that should not be overlooked or forgotten.
Students of the Belvedere Academy History Club, creating the “choose-your-own-adventure” computer game
I am very interested in this project as I find history very interesting. I am particularly interested in this project as I think it is a very good way to get the message across. I believe that creating the game will attract a wide range of audiences and spread the word about the severe struggle that many enslaved Africans faced. I have most enjoyed creating my own character for the game. We looked at different resources and studied a few cases which really helped me to fully understand and enabled me to create a realistic character to feature in the learning game. To help us with the project, we took a trip to the International Slavery Museum. Once we got there we were taken on a very interesting tour with Yazz from the Education team where we got to see key artefacts that helped us with the game. In the Education centre we learned more about the Underground Railroad, saw more artefacts and then made our own versions of Quilt Codes which will be used in our game".Find out more about quilt codes in our Quilt Codes activity session on 22 July at 11am.On 27July, between 3-4pm on gallery, you can get hands on with objects from the Museum's Underground Railroad handling collection in our first Underground Railroad handling session , where you will uncover more about how enslaved people escaped to freedom. And on 23August, between 2-4pm on the Quayside Gallery, in our special Underground Railroad handling session for Slavery Remembrance Day, you can experience the computer game for yourself, as well as getting hands on with objects from the Museum's Underground Railroad handling collection.