Context 168 - June 2021

28 C O N T E X T 1 6 8 : J U N E 2 0 2 1 while also attempting to accurately represent the historical built fabric of the city. This took the form of a user being presented with a two- dimensional contemporary map and tasked with flipping back and forth to the three-dimensional environment, and negotiating their way around the historic streetscape. The player is a letter-carrier who must deliver mail to a number of homes in the city. As they progress and succeed in negotiating the city, a historic map grows alongside the contempo- rary one, demonstrating the changes that have occurred. Perhaps most significantly, it becomes clear to the player that the letters they are delivering are vesting orders, demanding that residents leave their homes so that the streets can be demolished to make way for modern traf- fic infrastructure and housing. Archival repro- ductions of real letters are relayed in the game, as are newspaper reports and snippets of our oral history interviews. The overall effect is to impress the player with a visual experience, while also allowing them to experience the emotional impact of changes to the built environment that took place under the banner of progress. The purpose of the game is not to legitimise nostalgia for a lost age, nor to further lament the errors of post-war urban regeneration. Instead it attempts to highlight the complexities involved in planning and designing modern, sustainable and healthy cities, while also protecting urban heritage in a way that does more than simply retain physical relics of the past. Next, we intend to test the game with urban designers currently working on regeneration proposals for the same neighbourhoods. We hope this will convey the emotional history and memory of the space in a way that can inspire new thinking on heritage and regeneration. The potential of the narrative power and ever- advancing realism of gaming technology has yet to be explored in any great detail. We hope this project will offer some evidence of that potential and set a benchmark for future engagement. Adrian Grant is a historian and lecturer in policy at Ulster University. He is currently leading the AHRC-funded project Divided Pasts – Design Futures, which seeks to utilise heritage more effectively in urban design and planning processes. An overview plan of the game area in development mode, which includes St Columb’s Wells and Howard Street. Housing and commercial buildings are blue, public buildings are black, playable streets are green, and non-playable streets are red.