The Strange Sickness team gathered with backers and supporters for an evening of live music and celebration at The Blue Lamp in Aberdeen on Friday 13th May 2022.
To mark the completion of the game William, Katharine, Alana and Jackson came together in person for the first time and met over thirty supporters who were able to be there. The event had generous support from the University of Aberdeen Development Trust.
There was a Q&A session with the game creators, followed by a cracking performance by Songs from Medieval Aberdeen, who provided the track for the game’s credits.
Later in the evening the organisers held a raffle draw for a special bottle of Chivas Regal 25 Year Old, kindly gifted by Chivas Brothers, and three game download keys.
Musician and researcher D. James Ross has published a short paper about his investigations into the nebulous but fascinating Gray family in Aberdeen in the later fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries.
A member of the family was Robert Kervour (Carver), Scotland’s most outstanding Renaissance composer. He is also the man who, as heir to the chaplain Andrew Gray who died in 1504, was to be given possession of Gray’s still for aquavite and rosewater (see the blog post and news item from 2019).
Twelve months after the crowd-funder campaign, today is the day and Strange Sickness is now available on PC via Itch.io
Earlier today Strange SicknessKickstarter backers had an update about the release of this version of the game, and about plans for the Mac version and other rewards to follow soon.
Visit strangesickness.com to learn more about the game, including how sales will support two charities. There is also a historians’ commentary on the website which explores the relationship between the game and the historical research and sources on which it is based. (But play the game first to avoid spoilers!)
The book examines the practice of banishment for what it reveals about morally acceptable behaviour in late medieval urban society. Punishment was used by authorities in Kampen to address sexual offences, but also for other matters, including the non-payment of fines. The book considers the legal context of the practice, and banishment as a punitive and coercive measure. It also discusses the redemption of exiles, either because their punishment was completed, or because they arranged for the payment of outstanding fines.
Edda said: “The study is something that evolved over a long period of time, while I was engaged on other projects, so much of the book I worked on in my spare time. I think it provides a multi-layered insight into late medieval urban society and legal culture, utilising not only a wide range of written sources, but also contemporary drawings from fifteenth-century Kampen.”
‘Order’, ‘budget’ and ‘unity’ were among the themes explored in the first FLAG workshop on the topic of New perspectives on civic administration in fifteenth-century towns.
On 5 and 6 November FLAG hosted its first international workshop, a ‘hybrid’ in-person and online gathering in Aberdeen. This brought the project team together, alongside participants invited to share perspectives from their own work.
The FLAG team presented the project’s challenge to identify shared aspects of ‘urbanitas’ in towns as different as Augsburg and Aberdeen. The themes of ‘order’, ‘budget’ and ‘unity’, and the digital tools and methods deployed in FLAG, were explored in the first two papers given by the project researchers.
The invitees then presented work-in-progress papers on their own work, covering aspects of medieval urban record keeping, and the interlinked themes of ‘order’, ‘budget’ and ‘unity’. An important goal of FLAG is to bring Scottish and German historiography into closer dialogue, and this was evident in the rich discussions that followed each paper. We were also treated to a display of Aberdeen council register volume one, by Phil Astley (City Archivist). Our hybrid format was a success, with the kind assistance of PhD student Ebba Strutzenbladh as facilitator. All participants followed the current measures for covid-19 mitigation. The programme outline follows below.
The meeting also allowed for some excursions around the formal planned sessions, including to Dunottar Castle, and Huntly Castle.
On 5 November the programme included the following sessions:
Welcome and introduction – Jörg Rogge (Mainz) and Jackson Armstrong (Aberdeen)
Wim Peters (Mainz) and William Hepburn (Aberdeen), Digital hermeneutics: methodology and first results from the Aberdeen ARO corpus
Regina Schäfer (Mainz), Talking about Law and Order in Augsburg
Amy Blakeway (St Andrews), War and the burghs, 1528–1550
Julia Bruch (Köln), Accounting Practices in Monasteries, Towns and Courts. Methodological Reflections
Elizabeth Gemmill (Oxford), The language of things: descriptions of objects and consumables in the burgh court records of late medieval Aberdeen
Jessica Bruns (Halle), Knowledge between pages. Book usage as a new form of administrative practice in late medieval Soest
Eliza Hartrich (UEA, Norwich), For the Comene Wele? Languages of Unity and Division in English and Irish Municipal Records, c. 1450-1500
Phil Astley (Aberdeen City & Aberdeenshire Archives) – viewing of Aberdeen Council Register volume from City Archives
On 6 November the programme included the following sessions:
Jens Klingner (ISGV, Dresden), Texts and transmission. City books and account books from late medieval Dresden
Andrew Simpson (Edinburgh), Brieves in the Burgh Records of Aberdeen, ca.1400-1500: Some Preliminary Thoughts
Christian Speer (Halle), Are town books reliable witnesses of the past? Critical considerations on the categories “note“, “transcript” and “fair copy” based on the Libri civitatis and Libri obligationum of Görlitz in the 14th and 15th century
The workshop was held in the Craig Suite at the Sir Duncan C. Rice Library, University of Aberdeen. The crisp November weather offered a sunny treat to participants, some of whom who also took up the kind offer of a visit to see the Kirk of St Nicholas.
Following the end of the workshop the sun came out for a visit to King’s College Chapel, and St Machar’s Cathedral, while others went to see the Dons lose to the Steelmen, before carrying on to hear Public Service Broadcasting play at the Music Hall!
Earlier this year we announced a new initiative with artists Kit Martin and Hetty Haxworth who are working with the Aberdeen Burgh Records Project to help introduce primary school pupils to block printing, monoprinting, collage, design and drawing, all inspired by the content of the Aberdeen Registers Online.
Working under Covid-19 restrictions, Hetty and Kit created an instructional video for teachers and pupils. The video accompanied a box of materials that enabled the class to complete this art and history project without in-person artist input. Pupil and teacher feedback from both pilot schools has been overwhelmingly positive.
Hetty, Kit and the Aberdeen Burgh Records Project are now exploring further opportunities for funding to help realise their ambitions for next steps with this work. A goal is to build upon the pilot and involve a group of primary schools within Aberdeen. This would include opportunities to work with teachers directly, to hold an open day to showcase the new pupil artwork, and to explore more of the historical context of the ARO.
With members of the current FLAG project, it will present the digital humanities work which is currently underway, investigating the ARO alongside a comparable digital resource from medieval Augsburg.
And, with Dr Claire Hawes, it will showcase creative responses to the themes and language in the ARO, in the form of contemporary song-writing and musical performance.
Claire will discuss the process by which she and Aberdeen-based musicians collaborated to write a set of songs which were performed at the Scottish Parliament in early 2020. These songs have now been recorded for the first time and they will be included in the session!
A paper in the form of a ‘thread’ of 12 tweets from @medievalabdn, by Dr William Hepburn and Dr Jackson Armstrong, will look at the story that has led so far to the Strange Sickness game project, and the steps on the road to creating and bringing a historical research-based game to life.
Papers at the conference running 25-28 May 2021 may be found with the Twitter hashtag #MAMG21.
Following the successful Kickstarter campaign, new support for Strange Sickness has come from the University of Aberdeen and the Aberdeenshire Council Archaeology Service.
The Aberdeenshire Council Archaeology Service has enabled the project to meet its final stretch goal, and a Knowledge Exchange and Commercialisation Award from the University of Aberdeen more than doubles the funding raised during the Kickstarter campaign! This will allow more time to be booked from the game designer (Katharine Neil) and artist (Alana Bell).
This means that the whole game can be made with greater depth and detail, and that it will include the ‘epilogue’ stretch goal exploring the outbreak of 1514.
The extra funding wouldn’t have been possible without the faith in the project demonstrated by all the backers, and William and Jackson hope that they will all be pleased with the extra dimension that it will add to the game.
This does mean that the expected release of the game will push back to summer 2021, but the Strange Sickness team are sure the extra benefits this funding will bring to the game will make it worth the longer wait.
Work is underway on the game, and we’ve included a new image by Alana here for you to see how the look of the game is shaping up!