115th Annual Conference - Honolulu, Hawaii
Friday, November 10 - Sunday, November 12, 2017

Visualizing the Past Through Placed-Based Mobile Games

Rachel Mamiya Hernandez, University of Hawaii, Manoa

This presentation will provide an overview on the design and implementation of a place-based mobile video game that allows players to explore forgotten places, events, people, and artifacts of historic importance to early Portuguese communities in Honolulu. The game, Navegantes contextualizes learning around the study of unique Portuguese history, heritage, language, and culture that shaped Honolulu and its communities, and their relationships across time and space.

Proposal: 

Hawai‘i was once home to a vibrant Portuguese-speaking community that published at least nine Portuguese language newspapers throughout the islands (Pacheco, 2014).  Whether aboard whaling ships or drawn by the need for laborers on the sugar cane plantations, most of the Portuguese coming to Hawai‘i were spurred by the economic hardships at home, particularly on the Azorean Islands and Madeira.  Starting in 1878, Hawai‘i would witness the arrival of tens of thousands of Portuguese immigrants coming from the Azores, Madeira, mainland Portugal and Cape Verde (then part of the Portuguese Empire).

By 1900, the Portuguese made up approximately 12% of the total population of the Hawaiian Islands (Felix and Senecal, 2009). Due to multiple factors such as the distance from Portugal, the relatively short period of immigration (1878-1913) and prevailing attitudes of assimilation at the time, Portuguese had pretty much died out as a language community in Hawai‘i by the middle of the 20th century (Proença, 2003) and consequently, much of the history of early Portuguese communities in Hawai‘i has faded from our collective memory.  

Navegantes is a place-based mobile game that allows players to explore forgotten places, events, people, artifacts of historic importance to early Portuguese communities in Honolulu while solving a mystery.

The game, Navegantes contextualizes learning around the study of unique Portuguese history, heritage, language, and culture that shaped Honolulu and its communities, and their relationships across time and space. The aim is to facilitate the engagement of players with the local context to develop their appreciation and understanding of Honolulu’s Portuguese cultural heritage. In addition, the game allows players to gain knowledge of Hawai‘i’s social dynamics by reflecting upon different cultural, behavioral, and ecological perspectives.

Using the Augmented Reality for Interactive Storytelling (ARIS) platform, Navegantes leverages on the educational potential of mobile technologies to support the learning process. The ARIS game allows players to be immersed in a combination of activities in both the virtual and physical worlds. It gives players the opportunity to control learning without instructor guidance allowing them to explore the Portuguese historical sites and learn at their own pace. Onscreen characters, pictures, narratives, and tasks were created to increase players’ engagement as well as to provide reinforcements that would facilitate easy and meaningful transfer of knowledge. Eventually, we would like to translate this game and make it into a Portuguese language learning and history game.