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Ghosts in the Garden: locative gameplay and historical interpretation from below

Poole, Steve

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© 2017 Steve Poole. Published with licence by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. The heritage industry now makes extensive use of digital audioguides and similar interpretation tools to reach new audiences but many remain rooted in authoritative and didactic conservatism. This paper critically evaluates the state of play in the field, from downloadable audio tours and apps, through more complex engagements with theatrically enhanced and affective simulation, to attempts at fuller dialogic visitor participation and the use of gps or RFID-triggered game mechanics. While ‘armchair’ and home screen-based game and interpretation models are addressed, particular attention is paid to the use of mobile and locative design, where embodiment in place is privileged over less associative or remote experience. The paper takes a research project led by the author as a case study. Ghosts in the Garden was conceived in collaboration with a museum and an experience design SME to test the potential of immersive, affective real world games on public understandings of history. It sought to engage visitors with researched history from below by using a pervasive media soundscape, the ‘ghosts’ of past visitors and a ‘choose-your-own-adventure’ game mechanic in which outcomes are variable, visitor agency is retained and a more radical model of historical knowledge suggested.


Poole, S. (2018). Ghosts in the Garden: locative gameplay and historical interpretation from below. International Journal of Heritage Studies, 24(3), 300-314.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jun 23, 2017
Online Publication Date Jul 5, 2017
Publication Date Mar 16, 2018
Deposit Date Jul 27, 2017
Publicly Available Date Sep 6, 2017
Journal International Journal of Heritage Studies
Print ISSN 1352-7258
Electronic ISSN 1470-3610
Publisher Taylor & Francis (Routledge)
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 24
Issue 3
Pages 300-314
Keywords ghosts, garden, locative, gameplay, historical interpretation
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information Additional Information : This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in International Journal of Heritage Studies on 5th July 2017, available online:


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