It was home to Robert Burns, as well as the location and inspiration of some of his most famous works – including Auld Lang Syne and Tam o Shanter.
Now, Ellisland Farm – where Burns lived from 1788 to 1791 – is being brought back to virtual life in the popular video game Minecraft.
Students and academics at Glasgow University, working with the Robert Burns Ellisland Trust, have recreated the 18th-century farm on Minecraft as Burns and his family knew it.
Players also have an opportunity to not only hear Burns’ poetry and song while in the virtual world, but will also be able to interact in Scots with the poet and his wife Jean Armour.
It is believed to be the first time Scots has been used in the video game, which plays host to nearly 140 million monthly active users around the world.
The project is a partnership between the university, Robert Burns Ellisland Trust and the South of Scotland Destination Alliance (SSDA).
The Minecraft Ellisland world was built by around 15 students who are part of the university’s Minecraft Society.
Bailey Hodgson, the society’s president and one of its founders, has played the game for nearly a decade – and played a significant role both in project setup and delivery.
He said: “I live on a farm near Ellisland so this was a project I really enjoyed taking on. Our society is new with just under 100 members, around 15 of us were actively involved in different parts of this from building to testing.
“We found that our play testers said the game encouraged them to want to visit Ellisland in real life.”
The Minecraft Ellisland project was led by Dr Timothy Peacock and Dr Matthew Barr from the University’s Game and Gaming Lab.
Dr Peacock, the Lab’s co-director said: “Robert Burns’ life and works have a significant global impact in inspiring people, while games have, in different forms, inspired and transported players to new worlds or even provided new ways of understanding our own.”
Joan McAlpine, business development manager of the Robert Burns Ellisland Trust, said: “Heritage attractions are always striving to attract diverse new audiences and this Minecraft Game opens Ellisland to potentially large numbers of children and young people all round the world.
“They will know Auld Lang Syne, but may not have known where it was written or by whom.
“The game includes a brand-new version of the song by our trustee the singer Emily Smith and original audio of Tam o Shanter. We are so excited about it and loved working with Bailey and the Glasgow University team.”
Ross McAuley, chief executive of the South of Scotland Destination Alliance, said: “The designers have done a fantastic job bringing Robert Burns’ Ellisland Farm home into Minecraft and I’m sure players will be inspired to come from far and wide to visit the farm and see for themselves the beautiful area where Burns lived and wrote.
“It’s such an innovative way to use new technology to reach a wider, younger audience. What better way to introduce young people to the story of Burns in the south of Scotland, an area which is absolutely brimming with literary connections to discover – perfect for the growing trend in literary tourism.”
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