projects

The Siege of Derry App

Brief

To create an educational mobile resource about the Siege of Derry for KS3 History students studying the Plantation.

Response

“Can you survive the Siege of Derry as a Jacobite spy?

Your mission is to look after Jacobite interests in the garrison city of Londonderry. You are their eyes and ears in the city.”

Set around Derry’s walls, the Siege app combines GPS and mobile technology with contemporary real life accounts and dramatized reactions from townspeople to bring to life the key events of the 1689 Siege. Excerpts from the diaries and journals of Captain Thomas Ash, Reverend George Walker and Captain Richards are contained in this educational, atmospheric espionage activity.

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Methodology/Approach

We wanted to use the app to explore the military rather than political aspects of the Siege of Derry, recounting the story of conflict where it was originally fought, along the walls of the city. As the 1689 siege is politically sensitive it was essential that I researched the event thoroughly, drawing from qualified sources and analysing key aspects of information to ensure an unbiased account. I also worked with local historians and museums to gain a greater understanding of the military and European contexts.

The app provides a physical timeline of the Siege of Derry, using GPS to anchor video and audio along Derry’s walls. A mission narrative encourages the user to act as a spy and collect information about the siege. As users walks the perimeter of the walls, GPS tracks the position of the user and contemporary accounts from Captain Thomas Ash, Reverend George Walker and Captain Richards are played. The 17th century language of these accounts requires some modern interpretation, therefore scripted dialogue from townspeople was added to give context to the accounts. The cannon along the walls are used to send messages into the Jacobite camp and Williamite guards were coded to appear randomly along the route to thwart the user’s mission.

If the player walks around the full circumference of the walls, collects the accounts, uses the cannon to send accounts into the enemy encampment and avoids detection by the guards, Louis XIV will present them with a virtual medal.

I produced and built the original ‘Siege of Derry’ prototype while working as a producer in the BBC NI Learning Department. Due to the limitations on the number of apps published by the BBC I was able to license the game to the NIEA. I then rebuilt and published the game as an Android and iPhone app.

Links

Map interface of the Siege of Derry app.

Siege of Derry is available on the App storeSiege of Derry Android app on Google Play

For: BBC/NIEA

Location: Derry City’s Walls

Responsibilities: project management, research, narrative, storyboarding, trail development, script – writing, game interaction, studio, photography, app design & production, user-testing, promotional material.

“I have worked with Ellen on several projects involving NIEA sites, … and I have always found her to be very conscientious … ensuring her research is factually correct and demonstrating an attention to detail but always keen to include a fun element for children. The work … has been of a very high quality and pitched correctly at the intended audience.”

Gail Pollock, senior photographer, NIEA