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Strange Sickness

Strange Sickness is a narrative game about fear, disease and community. It is also an encounter with history, built from some of the richest historical records of medieval Scotland. 

By supporting this campaign, you will not only access this interactive adventure. You will also be contributing to the creation of a new tool for learning about the past, with the potential to connect new audiences with history. Strange Sickness is built from historical research on the UNESCO-recognised council registers of medieval Aberdeen. It allows players to reflect on the effect of outbreaks of infectious disease on society, past and present. 

You will also enable new support for Aberdeen-based charities to assist people and communities during the COVID-19 pandemic and its aftermath. Once we meet our target goal we will complete Strange Sickness and release it for purchase in the first quarter of 2021. All profits from sales of the game after the Kickstarter campaign will support the Lord Provost’s Charitable Trust, which is raising much-needed funds for Aberdeen-based registered charities to help individuals, families and communities across the city experiencing severe financial hardship as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Strange Sickness is not just another videogame project. It is a game that asks questions about history, and helps researchers find new ways to communicate about the past. It builds on more than eight years of research into Aberdeen’s medieval council registers through the Aberdeen Burgh Records Project. This research includes a UK Arts and Humanities Research Council-funded project on making games based on the council registers (2019). The game therefore draws on a large reservoir of historical resources and expertise to ensure it is based on rigorous historical research.

Strange Sickness is a creative collaboration between Dr William Hepburn (historian and creative lead), game developer Dr Katharine Neil (Astrologaster, Over the Alps) and artist Alana Bell (Gray’s School of  Art graduate 2020). The game is co-produced by Dr William Hepburn and Dr Jackson Armstrong, founders of Common Profyt Games Ltd.

Strange Sickness is a non-profit project. William and Jackson are giving their time for free.  The funds raised in this campaign will recover the costs of creating the game,  delivering the rewards, and ensuring Katharine and Alana’s time is funded.

William and Jackson bring expertise as professional historians who have worked closely with Aberdeen’s historic archives. They have years of experience in historical research and in the Aberdeen Burgh Records Project, which is a collaboration between the University of Aberdeen and the Aberdeen City Archives that has been leading investigation into Aberdeen’s historic council registers since 2012.

The player takes on the role of a member of Aberdeen’s city council in 1498 as a plague epidemic is taking hold in Scotland. You must decide how to protect the city against the arrival of the disease by land or sea. What consequences will your actions have on the city and your own reputation?

The player navigates the game through hyperlinks leading to different parts of the branching narrative. They decide when to seek further information and how to deal with the threat of plague. The narrative plays out in different ways, with different endings, based on these decisions.

The relationship of game content to the historical sources will be highlighted by a simple referencing system, allowing users to distinguish easily between content that is directly based on historical sources and content that is necessarily more imaginative to fit within the game structure and narrative. The game will also be supplemented with historical background information through which users can follow links to the original sources and learn more.

Find out more here

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