Tecumseh Lies Here

Alternate reality or augmented reality games (ARGs) are games that escape from the computer screen or the tabletop into real world spaces like streets, parks, and schools. Tecumseh Lies Here is an educational ARG developed by faculty and students at the University of Western Ontario in partnership with scholars at Brock University and several Ontario history and heritage sites. Part role-playing game, part scavenger hunt, and part real historical research, Tecumseh Lies Here uses innovative teaching and augmented reality technology to bring history to life.

On October 5, 1813, the Shawnee war chief Tecumseh fell at the Battle of the Thames in what is now Chatham-Kent, Ontario. Tecumseh Lies Here explores Tecumseh’s life and two centuries of controversy regarding his memory and his remains. It is a kind of “subversive commemoration,” one that explores the fascinating history of the war while challenging some lies and myths that have grown up around Tecumseh’s name. The game immerses its players in the many competing and conflicting versions of the history of the war, but also trains them in critical historical thinking and research skills, empowering them to make their own sense of the past.

Since September 2011, hundreds of students and others have played Tecumseh Lies Here. They have pored through libraries and archives, gathering clues and sources. They have wrestled with codes and puzzles, interpreting and analyzing evidence. They have raced to heritage and historical sites, finding traces of the past in the world around them. The first version of the game was an immersive ARG, designed for university students, in the style of classic ARGs like The Beast or I Love Bees. In September and October 2013, we partnered with the Battle of the Thames Bicentennial to run a new version of Tecumseh Lies Here, redesigned for a younger and broader audience. Over a hundred Ontario students in grades six, seven, and eight played the revised version of the game.