Scottish students bring Robert Burns’ home to virtual life in Minecraft
The home of Scotland’s national bard Robert Burns has been brought back to virtual life in the video game Minecraft.
Students and academics at the University of Glasgow working with the Robert Burns Ellisland Trust have helped to recreate the 18th century farm where Burns lived from 1788 to 1891.
Now Ellisland Farm, it was also the location and inspiration for some of the poet’s most famous works including Tam o Shanter and Auld Lang Syne.
Players will have an opportunity to hear Burns’ poetry and song while in the Minecraft world and be able to interact in Scots with the poet and his wife Jean Armour.
It is believed to be the first time Scots has been used in Minecraft, which has nearly 140 million monthly active users around the world.
The project is a partnership between the University, Robert Burns Ellisland Trust which runs Ellisland Museum and Farm and The South of Scotland Destination Alliance (SSDA).
It was built by around 15 students who are part of the university’s Minecraft Society.
Bailey Hodgson, the Minecraft society’s president and one of its founders, who has been playing Minecraft for a decade, played a significant role both in project setup and delivery.
Bailey said: “I live on a farm near Ellisland so this was a project I really enjoyed taking on.
“Our society is new with just under 100 members, around 15 of us were actively involved in different parts of this from building to testing.
“We found that our play testers said the game encouraged them to want to visit Ellisland in real life.
“Players can interact with Burns as well as use this experience to read and listen to his works.”
Joan McAlpine, the business development manager of the Robert Burns Ellisland Trust, said: “Heritage attractions are always striving to attract diverse new audiences and this Minecraft Game opens Ellisland to potentially large numbers of children and young people all round the world.
“They will know Auld Lang Syne, but may not have known where it was written or by whom.
“The game includes a brand-new version of the song by our trustee the singer Emily Smith and original audio of Tam o Shanter.”
The University of Glasgow was recruited to the project by Interface, a Scotland-wide organisation which helps businesses grow by matching them to Scotland’s world-leading academic expertise.
The project was led by Dr Timothy Peacock and Dr Matthew Barr from the University’s Game and Gaming Lab.
It was funded through the Scottish Government’s tourism leadership and recovery fund to support business and community-led tourism enterprises taking the lead in the sector’s Covid-19 recovery.
Born in 1759, Robert Burns’ poems and songs have been translated into every major language, and his influence has extended far beyond Scotland.
Today it is estimated that some 9.5 million people worldwide attend Burns Suppers annually. The poet died in Dumfries, near to Ellisland, on 21 July 1796, age 37.