Game-based learning is a research area that has grown within the past two decades, with evidence of tailoring commercial-off-the-shelf gaming, developing bespoke educational games, and using gamification-based learning tools in a variety of educational settings. However, the Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated the need to focus on virtual learning experiences that are engaging and motivating for schoolchildren to participate in as they face learning from home. Games are one such method of virtual learning experiences that aim to provide a stimulating experience for young people to continue their compulsory education. This paper introduces a project developed between Millport Conservation Area Regeneration Scheme (CARS) and a small team of game development students and academics from Abertay University. The purpose of the project was to develop a Minecraft Education world that could be used by teachers to engage primary schoolchildren in the history and heritage of the Isle of Cumbrae, an island in North Ayrshire, western Scotland. The project also set out to achieve aims of promoting local heritage and heritage tourism, enhancing national educational standards, serving as an electronic record of local heritage, and introducing potential career options in gaming to young people. The result - CumbraeCraft - is a suite of eight lessons that support teachers to use the game within the classroom as a way of teaching young people about local heritage and culture. The world focused on recreating locations and events from the Isle of Cumbrae to present interesting facts and knowledge to pupils in an interactive and enjoyable manner, focusing on interactions of exploration and discovery, narrative and communication, fellowship and teamwork, expression and creativity, and challenge-based learning. The aim of this paper is to present a case study on the design and development of CumbraeCraft as an educational environment to teach the heritage and history of island communities in western Scotland. Additionally, the paper spotlights a gap for games to be used to teach young people about local heritage and the historical significance of their communities and culture, with a particular emphasis on Scottish culture, language, and tradition.


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MacLeod, K., Reid, A., Donald, I. & Smith, K. 2021, 'CumbraeCraft: a virtual environment for teaching cultural heritage to primary schoolchildren', Proceedings of the 15th European Conference on Games Based Learning, ECGBL 2021, pp. 499-508. https://doi.org/10.34190/GBL.21.075

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Last updated: 16 June 2022
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