An Augmented Reality Game for History Education
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 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 original version of the game was designed for university students, an intense immersive mystery in the style of classic ARGs like The Beast or I Love Bees. In 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 and fifty Ontario students in grades six, seven, and eight played this revised version of the game.
To learn more about Tecumseh Lies Here, please read:
- Timothy Compeau and Robert MacDougall, “Tecumseh Returns: A History Game in Alternate Reality, Augmented Reality, and Reality.” In Seeing the Past: Augmented Reality and Computer Vision in History, edited by Kevin Kee, 176-206. University of Michigan Press, 2019.
- Timothy Compeau and Robert MacDougall, “Tecumseh Lies Here: Goals and Challenges for a Pervasive History Game in Progress.” In Pastplay: Teaching and Learning History with Technology, edited by Kevin Kee, 87-108. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2014.