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An Interview with SASA’s Archaeogaming Project Lead Paige Brevick

Paige Brevick is currently a PhD candidate in Egyptology at University College London, and received her MA in Egyptian Art & Archaeology at the University of Memphis in 2019. She works as a consulting curator and museum educator at institutions across the United States. Paige has also worked in counter-crime and antiquities trafficking for 8 years, and continues to serve as an advisor on projects in the Middle East.

SASA’s Archaeogaming Team is at the forefront of our efforts for grassroots spreading of Archaeology in Education. So far, they’ve written and produced four Archaeogaming Education Modules, packages that utilize footage from familiar video games combined with narration to encourage better attention and retention of archaeological research. These four modules can be used in 4th-6th grade curriculum, and are freely available for download by teachers with signup!

We spoke with Paige Brevick, SASA’s Archaeogaming Team Lead. Paige leads the production of these models alongside our volunteers, so we asked her a few questions

about her work.

How long have you been with SASA’s Archaeogaming Team?

I joined the Archaeogaming Team in February 2022. I followed SASA from its start and I reached out to David to share my interest in the organization - and he offered me a job!

I’ve actually used SASA’s resources and live events for my own work as a Museum Educator, which is how I first became familiar with the education team here. Since 2017 I’ve led youth archaeology themed programming and summer camps. Next year I’ll be partnering with some national organizations and plan to include a digital video-game element to our programs - it will be a great way to promote SASA and AEM visibility.

How do you define “Archaeogaming?” Do you consider yourself an “Archaeogamer?”

I would define “Archaeogaming” as the use of video game footage or in-game play as a way to teach (and learn) about archaeology.

A lot of people are surprised to learn that I’m not much of a gamer! I have free access to most of the games we use for AEM creation, which helps when we create a narrative and select scenes. I am fortunate to work with a great group of archaeologists, educators, artists, and gamers, and together we identify themes and games to explore in each AEM.

How long has the Archaeogaming team been working on AEM's?

Archaeogaming and AEMs have been at the forefront of SASA since its inception! The education team has always conceptualized using gaming to teach about the ancient world, but it wasn’t until spring 2021 that the AEMs took shape in a more formal way.

We have received generous funding for our AEM program from the New Jersey Council for the Humanities, the University of North Carolina, and National Endowment for the Humanities. We are also excited to see more classrooms sign up to use AEM programming next year!

How do video games appeal to students where traditional lectures and video assistance doesn’t?

Videos and lectures are typically very information heavy, and they require an “audience” to listen and absorb that information. Video games on the other hand require participation and interaction from the “player” to advance the storyline. One of the reasons I love our AEM program is that it promotes active learning and participatory discovery. The storyline is the lesson!

I also believe that using recognizable video game footage can be used strategically in the classroom, to enhance engagement and appeal to the younger generation already familiar with gaming. Rather than recreate a game for the purpose of learning, we use games students already enjoy and teach from that familiar footage.

How do you see Archaeogaming developing as an educational device?

There is so much potential for Archaeogaming as an educational resource. I would love to see more teachers and educators use AEMs in the classroom as a way to increase engagement with historical topics and courses.

One of coolest applications of video games to archaeology is the high quality graphics and the ability to recreate ancient sites in a digital landscape. Games can capture incredibly accurate reconstructions of buildings and sites now lost. For example, after the Notre Dame Cathedral’s catastrophic fire in 2019, Ubisoft shared its Assassin’s Creed Unity virtual rendition of the cathedral with experts overseeing its reconstruction.

Games also offer great learning appeal because of the user-generated control over the lesson and options for discovery. Even in free-play modes, users are able to control the direction and action of their character. I try to harness that “discovery learning” in our AEM videos and curriculum.

What’s next for SASA’s Archaeogaming Team?

In the spring we hope to complete at least 2 more Archaeogaming Education Modules, on new subjects! Of course, as an Egyptologist I am hoping we will complete one on ancient Egypt soon. We also aim to adapt our current program of 6 modules for college-level curriculum, to match standards for Western Civilization I courses.

Paige and the Archaeogaming Team are only scratching the surface of this new educational movement, so look for more news in the future about their next two Archaeogaming Educational Modules, which will focus on the Viking Diaspora and Medieval Medicine respectively! If you want to learn more about SASA’s Archaeogaming Education Modules, please watch this short trailer about the program.


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