Serena Zabin, Professor of History and Director of American Studies
Professor Serena Zabin utilized the Mellon Grant to fund development for her history course that focuses on understanding the 1770 Boston Massacre. As part of her course, Professor Zabin’s students worked closely with historians from the Old State House museum in Boston to examine the many contradictory accounts of the events leading up to the Boston Massacre.
These accounts help frame the plot of a computer game called “Witness to the Revolution,” a geographically accurate 3D serious gaming experience — built using a decade of historical research, GIS mapping software, procedural modeling techniques, and the Unity 3D game engine — that makes a virtue of this contradictory evidence. Players collect depositions from witnesses and must assess the value of the deposition, based on their appraisal of the witness’ reliability, social interactions, and coherence. As the player is sent on quests throughout eighteenth century Boston to find new witnesses, they experience the small scale and local nature of the colonial town.
Professor Zabin’s goal was to complete an “alpha” version of the final part of the game in time for the enormous reenactment event that the Old State House hosts in early March. With the guidance of a volunteer professional experience designer, she was able to playtest this version throughout the day of the reenactment.