HIST3812, Gaming and Simulation for Historians

Finally, with a bit of space to breathe, I am turning to getting my HIST3812 Gaming and Simulation for Historians course put together. In response to student queries about what this course will explore, I’ve put together a wee comic book (to capture the aesthetic of playfulness about history that games & simulations naturally contain). I’m not a particularly good maker of comic books, but it does the trick, more or less.

See it on Issuu here

Stranger in These Parts – An Interactive Fiction for Teaching

One of the things I want my students to engage with in my ‘cities and countryside in antiquity’ class is the idea that in antiquity, one navigates space not with a two dimensional top-down mental map, but rather as a series of what-comes-next. That navigating required socializing, asking directions, paying attention to landmarks.  I’m in part inspired by R. Ling’s 1990 article, Stranger in Town, and in part by Elijah Meek’s and Walter Scheidel’s ORBIS project. Elijah and I have in fact been talking about marrying a text-based interface for Orbis for this very reason.

But I’m also interested in gaming, simulation and storytelling for their own merits, so I’m trying my hand at an interactive fiction written using Inform 7  along the same lines. Instead of interfacing directly with the model represented in Orbis, I’ve queried Orbis for travel data, and have begun to write a bit of a narrative around it. (One could’ve composed this in Latin, in which case you’d get not just the spatial ideas, but also the language learning too!).

Anyway, I present to you version 0.1, a beta (perhaps ‘alpha’ is more appropriate) for ‘Stranger in These Parts‘, by Shawn Graham. I’m using Playfic to host it. I’d be happy to hear your thoughts. (And a hint to get going: check to see what you’ve got on you, and ‘ask Eros’ about things…)

Obviously, some things are lacking at the moment. I’ll want the player to be able to select different modes of transport sometimes (and thus to skip settings). There’s a point system, but it’s meant more to signal to the students that there is more to find. Depending on which NPCs a student talks with, different kinds of routes should become available. Time passes within the IF, and so night time matters – no travel then.  As far as I know, there’s no such thing as multi-player IF or head-to-head IF, but that’d be fun if it were possible: can you get to Pompeii before your classmates?

In terms of the learning exercise, the students will play through this, and then explore the same territory in Orbis. In the light of their readings and experiences, I’ll be asking them to reflect on the Roman experience of space. Once we’ve done that, now being suitably disabused of 21st century views of how to navigate space, we’ll start looking at the landscape archaeology of other ancient cultures.

That’s the plan, at any rate.

 

Roman Prosperity & Caesar IV

nb. I found this post lurking in a dark nether region of my wordpress dashboard, and it appears I never published it. So here it is!

Having spent a great deal of time in my thesis pondering the mysteries of Roman economics, it is curious to see how a city-builder game like Caesar IV demands many of the same skills – working with cost ratios, determining how much of a particular resource certain kinds of activities consume, distance & profit calculations – see for instance the discussion here and the tables here. Then go and study something like The Baths of Caracalla by Janet DeLaine. It is all strangely similar. I would have done better to have spent a few months playing the game and then looking at my copy of Finley or Hopkins. I’m not saying that the assumptions that underlie the game mechanics are analogous to the actual workings of the Roman economy; I’m saying that the game foregrounds the interconnectedness of production, consumption, taxes and society. I am constantly running out of money & resources as I play the game, which brings a whole new appreciation to the problems of monetary flow in the Roman world.

Augmenting Archaeology

[Originally posted on Play the Past, October 13]

In Matthew Johnson’s excellent ‘Ideas of Landscape‘ (Blackwell, 2006), he talks about the way archaeologists and historians look at landscape. (See Bill Caraher’s blog review piece). Landscape-as-palimpsest has been one of the most powerful metaphors for understanding landscapes and how they are formed. (A palimpsest being a manuscript that has been overwritten numerous times, with the earlier layer being erased more-or-less completely so that the parchment can be reused.) Johnson argues that the metaphor is too strong, in that while it helps us to untangle what we are looking at, it deflects attention away from what this ‘text’, with its grammar and sentences, all actually means (58).

In which case, I wonder if a playful approach to landscape might be useful? Instead of teaching students to ‘read’ landscapes, might ‘playing’ landscapes be better at generating meanings that go deeper? Katie Salen and Eric Zimmerman, in ‘Rules of Play: Game Design Fundamentals’ (MIT, 2004) situate meaningful play as a relationship between “player action and system outcome”, where both are “discernable and integrated into the larger context of the game” (34). Discernability in a game relates to being able to actually perceive whether an action had some sort of outcome; integration means that the action has consequences for later stages of play (35).  I’m suggesting then that the game of reading landscapes would not stop at just reading some aspect of past human activity in the landscape. Rather, it would be framed as part of some game whereby it competes with other readings of the landscape, where the story of the landscape emerges from game play, through some process of physically annotating & crafting competing visions of the palimpsest.

In short, an augmented reality game.

Image from CuriousLee's photostream on Flicr, with CC Attribution 2.0Panoramio augmented reality layer in Layar Iphone App, by CuriousLee

There are many competing definitions of augmented reality out there, but I think it is simplest to think of it as the imposition of layers of information onto the day-to-day experience of life. A GIS is not an augmented reality; but if you could project a GIS map of census data onto the field of view of a person standing in that street, it would be AR. Similarly, a device projecting Twitter streams about a place or made in that locale onto a screen in that place, is also a kind of AR. A Terminator style helmet with heads up display is AR; a two-dimensional bar code that whenscanned loads up a wiki page about the scanned object onto your cell phone is also AR. There is then a lot of potential ways to realize AR, and most of them no longer require lots of money or specialized equipment.

My putative reading-the-landscape game would be smartphone based.  It would involved annotating the world with what you are seeing, with some sort of ratings mechanism to ‘lock in’ readings of the landscape. The higher the ratings for your reading, the more points you get; points can be cashed in to overturn someone else’s readings. I think that would qualify as both discernable and integrated, per Salen and Zimmerman? Reading the landscape then becomes a contested activity, which reflects how landscapes can be made in the first place… This is just a first stab at the idea, but I think there’s potential here?

Some examples of existing historical/archaeological AR approaches or projects (all of these use the geolocating features of smartphones to ‘know’ roughly what you are looking at, and they display the data overlays on the phone’s camera as a heads-up display):

What AR applications/platforms are you using for your playful approach to the past?

 

Treasure Hunting & Alternate Reality Games for History

As part of my Digital History class, I introduced the students to the concept of alternate reality games. I don’t know of any that exist with the explicit purpose of teaching history, so we looked at some of the standards – I Love Bees, The Beast, Majestic. We looked at the work of Jane McGonigal. All in all, it was a fun couple of sessions. At the end of the last session, I mentioned that while I was in the library, a piece of paper fell out of a book I was reading, and this is what it said:

What could this mean? Points to the group who solved it first!

****

So that was my attempt at using some of the basic conventions of an alternate reality game – the puzzle, the riddles, the treasure-hunting aspect – to teach history. “Is this worldwide?” one student asked. “Safe to say, limited to this city” I replied.

I figured it would take them a couple of days, if they really tried hard. The first group returned two hours later with the whole thing solved! So what was I trying to do with this? By calling it ‘people are places are people’, I was pointing to the way we name buildings on the campus here. The first clue too was pretty easy, and I figured that when they solved it, it would alert them to the fact that we were looking at the buildings on campus here. To solve the puzzles, they had to perform one of the authentic tasks of the historian, and read closely.  But some groups didn’t read the clues very closely, and were stumped almost from the word go.

Interestingly, one group took my off-hand comment about ‘limited to the city’ to imply that the game would be played all over the city; and the line, ‘people are places are people’ to mean the founder of Ottawa, Lt Col. By. Amazingly, they found locations, statues, historic plaques all over Ottawa’s downtown that *could* be thought of as the answers to my clues… so in interacting with my text, they found items completely unrelated to my intentions – the sort of thing that happens when working with historic documents all the time, after a fashion.

As part of my continuing exploration of 7scenes, I’ve also tried translating it into a smartphone application. If you’re around Carleton, give it a try and let me know what you think. Consider this still as *draft*.

Some of my student feedback:

“[…] It is hard to figure out exactly what the clue means and once you find and solve and reveal the clue, you don’t want to stop.
Personally, I thought this game was really challenging because you didn’t really know where to start with a clue that could deal with generally anything. Once you figured out the clue or were on the right trail, I thought was exciting because it felt more like a race to be the first one to crack the clue. […]”

“[..]What worked for me about this game was the mystery behind it. It really captured my attention because it had kind of like a secretive aspect to it; it made me want to decode the mystery. The “rabbit hole” of the game is to figure out the first clue first in order to solve the rest of the clues and therefore solve the riddle[…]”

“The procedural rhetoric is I suppose to inspire active as opposed to passive learning about a subject that, while right under our noses, goes overlooked even though it has a lot of history. The rabbit hole was the sheet of paper falling out of a book in the library.

I found that this game touched on every aspect of what makes a good augmented or alternate reality game, but what I found to be most frustrating was the appearent lack of an overarching objective, that is to say something that tied them all together explicitly and not just generally. I feel that the game could have been better if there was a longer back story with the rabbit hole, like a hint dropped about what we should look for based on what you were researching in the library. It was a fun experiance over all though, I enjoyed learning what I did and it was nice to be able to do so in a group.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Play the Past launched!

I’m happy to report that Play the Past, a collaboratively edited & authored blog about cultural heritage and games, has launched.

Actually, Ethan, our intrepid leader, says it best:

At its core, Play the Past is a collaboratively edited and authored blog dedicated to thoughtfully exploring and discussing the intersection of cultural heritage (very broadly defined) and games/meaningful play (equally broadly defined). Play the Past contributors come from a wide variety of backgrounds, domains, perspectives, and motivations (for being interested in both games and cultural heritage) – a fact which is evident in the variety of topics we tackle in our posts.It is very important to note that Play the Past isn’t just about digital games, its also about non-digital games (boardgames, tabletop games, collectible card games, etc.), alternate reality games (ARGs), barely games (a term originally coined by Russel Davies – no, not the Doctor Who Russel Davies – and built upon by our very own Rob MacDougall), and playful mechanics (or “gamifying” as its been recently called).

We are also very interested in exploring the spectrum of approaches to games – from the more “philosophical” (as some might call it) games studies side of things, to the more practically applied serious games/meaningful play side of things (and just about everything betwixt and between).

Drop by and see what’s happening!

Serious Games for Archeaology & Imagining The Past

Ruth Tringham and her team at Berkeley continue to do extremely interesting work! I’ve just come across this course description for ‘serious games for archaeology‘, a course that asks probably *the* most important question when it comes to the content of historically-themed video games:

[…]We will explore and learn to critically analyze existing games that deal with archaeology, history, and the past. How, for example, does the game “Colonial Williamsburg” that MIT is developing differ from more popular games such as “Civilization”? We’ll discuss why it is that the commercial game producers are not interested in the educational value and content of their games.[…] (emphasis added SG)

That’s the nub, right there. Why does it matter that the Taliban can be swapped out of Medal of Honor without any consequences to game play? These are questions that historians and archaeologists need to address. In a similar vein, that was the motivation behind our paper from this past summer on a theory of good history through good gaming.

Players of history games are interested in the past and in the big questions that drive historical scholarship. In this way, games have the potential to draw players into the discipline if we can discover the best way to express history though simulation. But what research do we draw on as we study how to accomplish this transformation? This essay is the product of a meeting of historians, educators, and gamers who joined previously separate lines of inquiry to identify literature and models that we believe form the foundation for developing a theory of good history through gaming.

Niagara 1812: An iHistory tour of Niagara on the Lake

From Kevin Kee’s team at Brock U, an excellent augmented reality application for history:

Take a trip into the past with Niagara 1812. Using your iPhone, visit places and people from the War of 1812 and beyond. Choose Roam Mode, walk around one of the historic towns of Niagara, Canada, and discover the stories that lie behind the bricks and mortar. Or choose Quest Mode, and solve a centuries-old mystery in an immersive adventure.

With Niagara 1812, you carry history with you, in the palm of your hand.

I saw a prototype of this game earlier in the year, and with the website up and running, I guess it’s been launched! Having just finally purchased an iPhone, I can’t wait to give this a try.  I like that it comes in two flavors – roam mode, and quest mode. Not everyone is up for playing AR games, so the choice is a nice usability feature. To get a sense of what the quest mode is about, go to the website and play the prologue…

When on Google Earth Closes on 100 rounds of identifying fun

# Host: Victor: Site: Period:
1 Shawn Graham Chuck Jones Takht-i Jamshid / Persepolis terrace, Iran Achaemenid period
2 Chuck Jones PDD Church of Saint Simeon at Qalat Siman, Syria 5th-6th c. CE
2.1 Chuck Jones Paul Zimmerman Qal’at al-Bahrain 16th c. CE
3 Paul Zimmerman Heather Baker Baraqish (Yathill), Yemen Minaean (1st millennium BCE)
4 Heather Baker Jason Ur Mohenjo Daro, Pakistan ca. 2600-1900 BCE
5 Jason Ur Dan Diffendale Monte Albán, Oaxaca, Mexico 1st-5th centuries CE
6 Dan Diffendale Claire of Geevor Mine Segontium, Caernarfon, Wales 77ish to about 390 CE
7 Claire of Geevor Mine Ivan Cangemi Carn Euny, UK ca. 500 BCE-100 CE
8 Ivan Cangemi Southie Sham Monks Mound (Cahokia), IL, USA fl. 1050-1200
9 Southie Sham Dan Diffendale Gergovia, France fl. 1st c. BCE
10 Dan Diffendale Dorothy King Kastro Larissa/Argos, Greece ca. 1100 CE
11 Dorothy King Daniel Pett Utica, Tunisia C8th BCE– C2nd CE
12 Daniel Pett Neil Silberman Caesarea Maritima, Israel 1st century CE–Present
13 Neil Silberman Chuck Jones Graceland, Memphis, TN, USA 1939 CE–Present
14 Chuck Jones Aphaia Bam Citadel, Iran pre-C 6th BC–C19thCE
15 Aphaia Daniel Pett Myrina, Lemnos, Greece Classical Greek–present
16 Daniel Pett Paul Barford Dambulla Cave Temple, Sri Lanka 1st century BCE
17 Paul Barford Scott McDonough Rosetta (Rashid), Egypt Ptolemaic, Mamluk
18 Scott McDonough Lindsay Allen Ani, Turkey Medieval, C10th-14th CE
19 Lindsay Allen Heather in Vienna South Shields, England, UK Roman Imperial
20 Heather Scott McDonough Suomenlinna/Sveaborg fortress, Finland 1748-present
21 Scott McDonough Chuck Jones Derbent, Republic of Dagestan Sasanian-present
22 Chuck Jones Paul Barford Amphitheatre of Aquincum, Hungary Roman
23 Paul Barford Geoff Carter The Cursus, (Stonehenge) Wiltshire Neolithic
24 Geoff Carter Ferhan Sakal The Heuneburg, South Germany Iron Age
25 Ferhan Sakal Lindsay Allen Sura, Syria Roman
26 Lindsay Allen Andrea Kay Bannerman Castle, Hudson River, US C20th
27 Andrea Kay David Powell Taposiris Magna, Alexandria, Egypt C1st BCE
28 David Powell Billy Ross Abbey, Galway, Ireland Medieval
29 Billy Geoff Carter Great Zimbabwe, Africa C11th – 14th CE
30 Geoff Carter Heather Elsdon Castle, England C11th – 12th CE
31 Heather Geoff Carter Volubilis, Morocco Roman
32 Geoff Carter Paul Barford Su Nuraxi, Barumini, Sardinia C15th – 6th BCE
33 Paul Barford Ferhan Sakal Arkona, Germany Medieval
34 Ferhan Sakal Heather Arslantepe, Turkey Chalcolithic – Byzantine
35 Heather Ferhan Sakal Mahabodhi Temple Complex, India 3rd century B.C. – 6th CE
36 Ferhan Sakal Billy Borobudur, Buddhist shrine, Indonesia 9th century B.C. – 6th CE
37 Billy Ferhan Sakal Browns Island, New Zealand c. 13th century – 1820
38 Ferhan Sakal Andrea Kay Bat, Al-Khutm and Al-Ayn, Oman 3rd millennium B.C.
39 Andrea Kay Matt B. Serabit el-Khadim, Egypt 2nd millennium B.C.
40 Matt B. Andrea Kay Valsgärde grave field, Sweden Swedish Vendel /Iron Age
41 Andrea Kay Lindsay Allen Siwa oasis, Egypt fourth century B.C. -Roman
42 Lindsay Allen David Gill Castle of Pont Steffan, Wales, UK Medieval
43 David Gill Nigel Hay Castle, Wales, UK 12th century
44 Nigel Heather Olympos, Turkey Hellenistic – Roman
45 Heather Ferhan Sakal Carnuntum, Austria Roman
46 Ferhan Sakal Troels Myrup Knossos, Greece Bronze Age
47 Troels Myrup Alun Salt Aggersborg, Denmark Viking
48 Alun Salt Geoff Carter Marsala, Sicillia. Punic/Roman
49 Geoff Carter Matt B Springfield Lyons, UK LBA (/Saxon)
50 MattB Geoff Carter Kalkriese in Osnabrück, Germany Roman
51 Geoff Carter Ferhan Sakal Grimes Graves, Norfolk, UK Late neolithic
52 Ferhan Sakal Oliver Mack Heraqla, ar-rashid,syria Late C8 CE
53 Oliver Mack Matt B Welzheim, Germany Roman
54 Matt B Geoff Carter Birka, Sweden Viking
55 Geoff Carter Heather Nemrut Dagi, Turkey C1 bce
56 Heather Geoff Carter Choirokoitia, Cyprus. Neolithic
57 Geoff Carter Jaime Woodhenge, UK Late Neolithic
58 Jaime Geoff Carter Gorgora Nova, Ethiopia, C17th (CE).
59 Geoff Carter Nathan T.Elkins Firouabad, Iran C3rd CE
60 Nathan Elkins
Paul Barford Portus, Italy Roman
61 Paul Barford
Heather Delos, Greece Classical-Hellenistic Greek
62 Heather
Geoff Carter Gordion, Turkey 1500-700 BCE
63 Geoff Carter
CFeagans Vix, France 6th-5th C BCE
64 CFeagans
Alun Salt Newark Great Circle, OH 100 BCE
65 Alun Salt
Eloy Cano Agra, India 1556-1658
66 Eloy Cano
Troels Myrup Göbekli Tepe, Turkey 10-8th millennium BCE
67 Troels Myrup
Heather Kanhave canal, Samsø, Denmark 8th c. CE/Viking
68 Heather
Troels Myrup Butrint, Albania 10th c. BCE-18th c. CE
69 Troels Myrup
Paul Zimmerman Birketain, Jordan Roman
70 Paul Z. Oliver Mack Cueva de Menga/Viera, Spain 3rd mill BCE
71 Oliver Mack Heather Dur-Kurigalzu, Iraq 14th-12th c BCE
72 Heather Todd Bolen Hippos, Israel Roman-Byzantine
73 Todd Bolen Chris McKinney Yarmuth EB
74 Chris McKinney Mike Koeth Tafila/Busayra, Jordan Iron II Period (950-600 BC)
75 Mike Koeth Chuck Jones Hamadan, Iran middle of the first millennium, particularly Achaemend.
76 Chuck Jones Heather Tell Hadir in Syria, c. 24 km SSW of Aleppo Bronze Age tell, with remains of an early Islamic settlement around it that have been investigated recently by a team from U. of Chicago, the Sorbonne and the Syrian DGA.
77 Heather Chuck Jones Offa’s Dyke 8th c. protecting Mercia from Powys)
78 Chuck Jones J; J never posted a site Sigiriya, Sri Lanka, a UNESCO World Heritage site
79 Matt Declan Oldenburg Wall the centre of power for the Abodrite tribe in the Wagrian region 7th/8th century
80 Declan Brian Dolan Cahercommaun fort, Co. Clare about A.D. 800 – A.D. 1000
81 Brian Dolan Declan Kailash Temple, Ellora, Maharashtra, India 8th century by the Rashtrakuta king Krishna I.
82 Declan Mat B Nijō Castle in Kyoto, Japan Edo period/17th century.
83 Mat B SouthieSham Masada, first fortified between 31-37BC byHerod the Great. Held by the Sicarii and besieged by the Romans in 70 AD
84 SouthieSham Geoff Carter Greek /Roman city of Paestum in Italy Founded C7th bc and in use as a Roman city .
85.1 Geoff Carter Pojomum Bamburgh Castle, Northumberland: while site has earlier occupation, the Norman castle was built by Henry II remaining largely impregnable for four centuries until becoming one of the first castles to succumb to cannon fire during the Wars of the Roses. The forces of the Earl of Warwick pounded it to pieces in 1464. What remains today is the Norman Keep.
85.2 Geoff Carter posts 86
86 Troels Myrup Elephantine (incl the Temple of Khnum in the bottom half) Dyn. III through Late Antiquity
87 Troels Myrup Geoff Carter Roman temple at Niha Bekaa, Lebanon C2-3AD perhaps.
88 Geoff Carter Heather Los Millares, a Chalcolithic site near Almeria in Spain. a Chalcolithic site near Almeria in Spain.
89 Heather Geoff Carter Fortress of Al-Ukhaidir, Abbasid period palace built 774/5 ce
90 Geoff Carter Matt La Tène on Lac de Neuchâtel in Switzerland Iron Age (La Tène) votive site (probably) consisting of two bridges that were where the camping site is now
91 Matt Geoff Carter Mount Ipf, a hillfort near Bopfingen, Ostalbkreis, Baden-Wuerttemberg/Germany. LBA, [Urnfield Culture, and Iron age, [Hallstatt and La Tène Period] occupation; C12th – C1st BC ish
92.1 Geoff Carter Anonymous Dimini in Thessaly, Greece late neolithic
92.2 Geoff Carter Lee Citânia de Briteiros in north Portugal. Castro Culture; late Bronze/Iron Age.
93 Lee still in play

So we’re closing in fast to 100 rounds of When on Google Earth! Tell your friends: the casual archaeology game rocks!

ARGs and the Classicist: Roger Travis

Roger Travis is doing amazing things in his classics classes.  He creates immersive learning experiences, and often his tools are low-tech, or old-tech, like interactive fiction (which I think doesn’t get enough respect in terms of digital learning!)

In Operation KTHMA, the course on Herodotus and Thucydides, my students stood trial for breaking and entering the home of Pericles’ rival Thucydides son of Melesias. In FABULA AMORIS ROMANI, my students had to sing for Augustus, first emperor of Rome. In these moments, fun is being had—I have video of some of these moments, and there are actual smiles on my students’ faces!—but fun isn’t the thing that matters most. What matters is engagement in the material, and, if they’re to be believed in their comments on the course at the end of the semester, my students were engaged. In (Gaming) Homer, my students are caught up in an ARG where they must become homeric bards by observing and playing The Lord of the Rings Online in relation to the Iliad and the Odyssey.

His latest looks fantastic:

The Demiurge recruits the students as operatives in Project
ΑΡΧΑΙΑ in the usual way (cryptic e-mails on the course’s web-site saying that their services have been commandeered to save Western Civilization yada yada yada). In order to reach the mission objectives of knowledge  and skill necessary to brief the world about Greek cvilization (including sub-objectives of reading ancient Greek), the Demiurge has coded the following practomimetic simulation into the TSTT:

It’s the lead-up to the trial of Socrates, and operatives are inserted into Athenians who could be called on to be jurors. In order to make the best possible decision about his guilt and his penalty, they must learn everything they can about how Socrates ended up on trial (which is, when told correctly, a story that goes back to the Bronze Age), and what the consequences of the trial have been for Western Civilization.

For more on Travis and the fantastic things he does, see his blog as well as the initiative he directs, the Video Games and Human Values Initiative.

Second Site: Keith Challis’ work on archaeological visualization

I learned this morning of Keith Challis’ blog, ‘Second Site‘. Keith is a researcher with Birmingham University’s ‘Visual and Spatial Technology Center’.

Keith is exploring ways of using game engines to render & explore archaeological landscapes (a great use of LIDAR if ever I saw one).  In a recent post, ‘Ideas of Landscape‘ he writes,

One of the key ideas behind using computer games to visualise archaeological landscapes is that they take us away from the god-like view from above that typical computer-based visualisation provides.  In Ideas of Landscape, Matthew Johnson reflects on the dichotomy between the romantic, Wordsworthian view of landscape, rooted amongst other things in the view from above, and Hoskin’s assertion that “the real work [in the study of landscape] is accomplished by the men and women with muddy boots…”
Computer visualisation, particularly of remotely collected landscape data (for example the airborne lidar used here) has almost inevitably forced us to explore only one path; landscapes become data objects, interpreted as a whole and understood as abstract entities, devoid of sense and experience.

The first person view of game-based visualisation places us back in the realm of “muddy boots” landscape is explored and experienced, like Hoskins we “explore England on foot”.  Does that improve our understanding of landscape?  At one level probably not, arguably morphology of landscape is best appreciated from above, but landscape is more than form and function, and the relationship between elements of landscape is better appreciated from the ground.

This connected (in my head, at least), with some ideas I’ve long held, about the way landscape-as-social-network can give us something of that ‘muddy boots’ experience, in terms of landscape as culture.  That at least is the premise of one paper of mine, ‘The Space Between’ (full text)

The key thing to remember I suppose is that the cartographic understanding of landscape is a fairly recent innovation, and that we miss important aspects of human interaction with the land if the map is our only tool.