Asia

NHB's DigiMuse virtual showcase launched today with 30 proposals, including interactive games and AR

SINGAPORE- During the Covid-19 circuit breaker, freelance illustrator Elizabeth Ang, 22, watched her peers flock to Nintendo’s Animal Crossing video game franchise.

The real-time, social simulation game allows players to build a village, complete tasks and interact with each another.

“I realised that games had that social element of bonding people through a shared experience, even when they’re physically apart,” said Ms Ang.

It came as no surprise when she heard about an open call in May by the National Heritage Board (NHB) for digital content to encourage Singaporeans to engage in culture and jumped at the opportunity.

Ms Ang gave it a shot. The demo version of her game, Amoy Street, A Pixel Role Playing Game, went live on NHB’s DigiMuse Presents, a virtual showcase that brings to life the possibilities of digital works blending history, art and technology which was launched this morning (Nov 17).

Her game was among the 30 successful proposals that were handpicked in this year’s NHB DigiMuse initiative that aims to nurture a cultural sector that embraces digital innovation. Each proposal will get up to $5,000.

Ms Ang’s game follows Ah Cheng who time-travels to the 1960s at Amoy Street and returns by retrieving memories from characters and repairing a silver hairpin.

The game features pixel graphics reminiscent of that in Super Nintendo games of the 1990s like Pokemon and Zelda.

A fresh history graduate, Ms Ang was captivated by Singapore’s rich heritage and culture and spent a month and a half studying and cross-checking infopedias, books and blogs to bring the game’s narrative to life. 

Older digital works released in July as part of the showcase include an interactive augmented reality filter which projects jewellery and fashion pieces from the Asian Civilisations Museum on users and a 360 degree image of past and present National Day Parades.

More recent works include a short film by National University of Singapore sociology student Jason Lee Meng Hon, 24, who drew inspiration from his experience while abroad. The film follows a Singaporean and an exchange student who are paired for a school project as they uncover Katong’s heritage.

“I feel that often how we’re taught about the past is very passive so we might not be active in learning. Through digital mediums, we are put into the shoes of the characters. We have to interact and make the choices,” Ms Ang said.

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