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The Island

Kidz Connect is excited to participate in the upcoming Henry Hudson 400 Festival, which will celebrate the 400-year-old bond between the Dutch and Americans that started with Henry Hudson’s discovery of New York in 1609. There will be a series of events in both New York and Amsterdam in August and September 2009.

Kidz Connect will be part of a project called The Island, an alternate reality game that will take place simultaneously in the real and the virtual world, connecting students in New York and Amsterdam in a shared experience of discovery while imbuing historical narratives of New York’s Dutch origins with a sense of adventure and cultural connection.

Students will play by using GPS-based mobile phones on the streets, receiving assignments based on their location. These assignments relate to historical events which link their current location to the past. They unravel the mystery together. The game is a giant puzzle – a treasure hunt where students and their companion players solve a mystery while being connected in real-time to their peers. Each game is an episode of a bigger story, so the students must finish an episode for the next to be revealed.

The information collected must be shared with students abroad in order to advance. The game continues online where players collaborate on the web and in virtual worlds, i.e., in virtual Amsterdam and 17th century New Amsterdam (New York) in Second Life. The virtual world component is where Kidz Connect will come into play.

The main storyline is based on the ‘lost’ history and cultural connection between Amsterdam and New York City, largely inspired by the narrative in Russell Shorto’s book, The Island at the Center of the World. In 1609, Henry Hudson was chosen by the Dutch East India Company to find an easterly passage to Asia. While Hudson only made it as far as Albany, New York, his first steps on the tip of Manhattan eventually gave rise to a thriving settlement on what is today New York City. Much of the history of this early colony was lost, until thousands of 17th century Dutch documents were recently unearthed, revealing stories about early leaders and settlers – seminal figures in the development of Dutch Manhattan, the first place in the New World where men and women of different races and creeds lived in relative harmony.

In 2009, the Henry Hudson 400 Festival will commemorate the legendary voyage in both Amsterdam and in New York.

The Island celebrates this bond between the Dutch and Americans that began with Hudson’s discovery of New York, by creating three episodes of this historic narrative within an alternate reality game environment. The first episode is a real-time collaborative location-based game using GPS technology. The second episode extends the historic narratives and gameplay into an interactive web environment and the third episode occurs in a virtual world (Second Life).

The goals of the project are

  • To commemorate the historic voyage of Henry Hudson by celebrating the tolerant and diverse traditions of both Amsterdam and New York and to reinforce how important diversity and tolerance are to the expansion and prosperity of great cities.
  • To intensify and renew historic, cultural, and commercial ties between New York and Amsterdam by creating productive cultural relationships and youth entrepreneurship.
  • To promote the learning of social, historical and cultural facts through gameplay.

We are partnering with area/code, the Institute of Play, the John Adams Institute, and the Waag Society, among others.

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2 Responses to “The Island”

  1. rikomatic 21 October 2008 at 2:53 pm #

    This looks really tremendous! I love the use of GPS, virtual worlds, and cross-national cooperation! Really innovative and fun.

  2. Josephine Dorado 21 October 2008 at 4:20 pm #

    thanks, Rik! we’re really excited about it too. 🙂

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