Alright! Finally, the moment so many of you have been waiting for has arrived. We at BlackCherry are all very excited to announce the launch of First Encounters. The past few months have been extremely busy here at BlackCherry wrapping up production on the First Encounters game and website. This ground breaking achievement in game-based education is set to revolutionize the way in which people will learn about pivotal moments in this continent’s history: First contact between Europeans and Canada’s First Peoples.
First Encounters is a unique new media learning experience consisting of a rich online game, an extensive video and music gallery, and detailed teacher’s guides.
The artwork for the game is spectacular, providing breathtaking sceneries and exquisite colour schemes. Inspired by the work of The Group of Seven, the art in First Encounters emphasises the impressionist style of this iconic group of Canadian artists. The impressionist style demonstrated in the game captures the essence of those first encounters. Although there exists a general understanding of what happened during those encounters, so many details are missing from the story. Our artists recognized this reality, and conveyed it through the beautiful imagery of the game’s landscape.
Solid research and extensive consultation with historians, anthropologists, indigenous community members, and many more have helped shape this project into an accurate historical resource that re-examines the nature of these critical encounters in Canadian history. What were these cultures really like when first contact occurred? First Encounters presents visitors with a holistic approach to the events surrounding this history, providing a deep cultural understanding of all the actors involved in the encounters.
The extra resources created for the website are extensive and impressive. One of objectives for having these resources is to tie up all the loose ends by putting the information presented in the game into the proper context. The teacher’s guides are a rich resource for educators wishing to explore these topics in more depth, providing students between grades 8 and 12 with the ability to conduct an inquiry-based analysis concerning the subjects and themes that are brought up in the game. Curriculum connections are strong for students in Grades 8 – 12, not only in the area of history, but also in social sciences, language arts, Aboriginal studies, applied technology and music. By expanding their knowledge through the inquiry question process, students can make new connections that further their understanding of the interrelated world in which we live.
The video gallery provides as in-depth interviews with Inuit, First Nations, and academic communities. These interviews shed light on the historic encounters presented in the game, enriching visitors’ cultural and historical understanding of these critical times of Canadian history. The music gallery presents authentic period music based on the latest historical research of all cultures presented in the game.
The creation of this project has been a great experience for all of us here at BlackCherry. It would not have been possible without the help of countless individuals, including academics and members of the Inuit and First Nations communities, members of Carleton University’s Centre for Indigenous Research, Culture, Learning and Education, Franziska von Rosen at Pinegrove productions for her excellent work conducting the interviews and providing insight, and Wendy Campbell for the amazing production of detailed teacher’s guides that supplement learning in the game. This project was also made possible with the support of the Department of Canadian Heritage through the Canadian Interactive Fund.
We are extremely proud of First Encounters, and we have already received positive feedback from team members in the academic and First Nations communities. We’re looking forward to hear what people think.