Gaming and the Simulation of History Constructing Perspectives of Machu Picchu

In this research I have developed a new method for depicting historical sites using game-design concepts and technologies. I argue that using computer games, design environment researchers can integrate and consolidate historical documents, challenging the dichotomy of space and time as two discrete constructs, producing a dynamic rather than static “frozen” image of place. This method allows for movement from representation to simulation of historical places and events, and facilitates an active participation in the remaking of an historical place. While this method seeks to provide an accurate historical reconstruction, it also allows for the maintenance of a critical distance by exposing the mechanics of historiography. Stitching together various perspectives, I propose the making of a collage simulation of history in a game environment.

To test this method, I studied the historical site of Machu Picchu in Peru, and the story of its discovery by explorer Hiram Bingham in 1911. Bingham’s expedition remains today the constituting myth of the site, captured in multiple documents, primarily Bingham’s travel journal, but also in photography and cartographic drawings, made by Bingham himself during his discovery. In the contest of my work, Bingham’s materials were integrated into a 3D game environment.

Taking-part in a collaborative project for 3D-scanning of Machu Picchu, on-site work produced accurate models of sections of the site. The 3D models became a basis-layer for my prototype, a hybrid of game and digital archive, producing a movement towards collage simulation of historical sites.