Virtualizing Gothic History: Off The Map 2014

Registration is now open for the second annual Off the Map 2014, a CG competition for UK-based, higher education students and sponsored by the British Library, GameCity, and Crytek. OTM2014 challenges students to develop unique, imaginative, and virtual gaming worlds based upon original, historical source material. As with last year's competition, students will be using the game engine, CryENGINE to construct their virtual worlds, which this year are based on a gothic theme in anticipation for the British Library's up and coming exhibition: "Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination." The British Library will supply copies and prints of many original works, documents, illustrations, paintings, maps, and audio to help teams understand the settings, architecture, and literary works that they will be reconstructing and interpreting in three dimensions. GameCity will announce the winners at its GameCity 9 Festival held October 25-Nov 1st and Crytek will be providing the game engine and tech support to all teams. In addition to the Gothic theme, the competition is broken down into three subcategories teams must choose from:
  • Fonthill Abbey, the awe inspiring and enormous Gothic castle built by British novelist William Beckford.
  • The Masque of the Red Death, Edgar Allen Poe's Gothic novel about death, disease, and masquerade parties.
  • Whitby, the small, sleepy Yorkshire town that hosted the arrival of Dracula in Bram Stoker's 19th Century novel.
Below is a video from last year's winning team, Pudding Lane Productions, and their recreation of London just before the Great Fire of 1666.
Each of these subcategories presents a great challenge and unique opportunity to use technology to literally recreate and interpret history within a virtual world. You could be the first to reconstruct and revive the, now perished, Fonthill Abbey, allowing others to virtually roam the halls of this enormous castle, investigating its wide expanses and Gothic architecture. Or maybe you could coax the audience through the grotesqueness of Prospero's elaborate, yet horrible, masquerade balls within Poe's short story. Whatever you come up with, it's sure to be an original work of historical and cultural value. You can register for the competition here or read about last year's winners. Check out the website and share some of your ideas for the Gothic themes in the comments below.