The Ebutius's Dilemma EMOTIVE experience was designed and produced in 2017-8 by the following teams of the EMOTIVE project consortium (EMOTIVE is a 3-year EC-funded Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation project running from November 2016 to October 2019 - grant agreement 727188) :
University of Glasgow, UK (Information Studies, School of Humanities & Hunterian Museum): Maria Economou (team leader), Hilary Young, Emilia Sosnowska; The Hunterian Museum staff gave access to Antonine Wall: Rome's Final Frontier display and related collection, facilitated evaluation and public engagement events, and offered visitor profile information.
NOHO (Ireland): Breffni O'Malley & Karolina Badzmierowska
DigiNext (France): Cyril de Mengin Fondragon, Remi Courtel, Souheir Mili, Lois Brun
ATHENA Research Centre (Greece): Akrivi Katifori, Vassilis Kourtis, Manos Karvounis, Maria Roussou, Christos Lougiakis, Ektor Vrettakis
EMOTIVE project coordination: Hara Stefanou, Exus
The first iteration of Ebutius's Dilemma was designed in August-September 2017 with improvements and changes carried out until December 2017 using the StoryBoard Editor, which is part of the EMOTIVE authoring tools developed by the ATHENA Research Centre (Greece). The second iteration, which improved the user interface and included some extra content, was designed using the Visual Scenario Editor of the EMOTIVE Authoring Tools developed by the DigiNext company (France) partner (January to June 2018).
Contributions at the University of Glasgow also by Kate Vlakjeska, Erasmus+ Hunterian Trainee on graphic design; and Dr Rozhen Mohammed-Amin, from Sleimani Polytechnic University, Iraqi Kurdistan, Nahrein Foundation and BISI visiting scholar to the University of Glasgow, on evaluation research.
Lawrence Keppie, Emeritus Professor of Roman History and Archeology, Hunterian Museum and Dr Louisa Campbell, Arhcaeology, University of Glasgow for general advice on archaeological and historical background and collections information.
Billy Watt, University of Glasgow English Hons student and Drama Society member gave his voice to Ebutius.
Museum Studies MSc students: Metaxia Adami (2018) assisted with the design and evaluation of the virtual Ebutius, while Rachel Nicholson (2018) and Claire Maguire (2019) researched the educational potential of Ebutius's Dilemma with school teachers and pupils. Guillem Marti (2014), inspired Ebutius's Dilemma with his "Deserter Cartoon" and related story.
Historic Environment Scotland: use of some graphic artwork, background consultation, and 3D models of artefacts commissioned to School of Simulation & Visualisation, Glasgow School of Art.
EMOTIVE Ebutius’s Dilemma onsite and online app for Roman Antonine Wall display at Hunterian Museum, Glasgow
“Ebutius’s Dilemma” is a digital storytelling experience developed for the Hunterian Museum at the University of Glasgow. It tells the story of a Roman centurion who left his mark on the Antonine Wall in Scotland. The Antonine Wall was the Roman Empire's most northerly frontier and is today part of a Unesco World Heritage Site. The Hunterian Museum hosts an outstanding collection of objects from the Wall. The "Ebutius’s Dilemma" EMOTIVE experience uses digital storytelling to interpret the objects at the Hunterian's "The Antonine Wall: Rome's Final Frontier" display. It was designed to help visitors connect with the objects by engaging with Ebutius's story. A virtual version of Ebutius's Dilemma was also designed for remote online visitors, recreating the museum space with a 360-degrees panorama. The story is set just before the abandonment of the Antonine Wall by the Romans. The narrative uses the fictional character of Ebutius, a Roman soldier faced with a difficult choice: The Roman army is abandoning the Wall - his home for 20 years - and users are asked to help Ebutius decide whether to leave with them or desert the army and stay with his local Caledonian partner and their child. While exploring the app, users discover objects related to different strands of the story which have emotional relevance to Ebutius. The story also resonnates with today's visitors by using universal themes that transcend time, like love, family, and work.
The Antonine Wall Site: Built around AD142 in the reign of the Roman emperor Antoninus Pius, the Antonine Wall ran coast-to-coast across Scotland from the Clyde to the Firth of Forth and was the most northerly frontier of the Roman Empire. It was abandoned by the Romans who retreated further south, from the late AD150s onwards.
The Hunterian Museum and its Antonine Wall Display: The Hunterian at the University of Glasgow was founded in 1807. It is Scotland’s oldest public museum and home to one of the largest collections in Scotland with over 1.5 million items. ‘The Antonine Wall: Rome’s Final Frontier’ is the Hunterian’s permanent display of the largest collection of artefacts discovered along the Wall.
THE EBUTIUS’S DILEMMA HUNTERIAN EMOTIVE EXPERIENCE
The Ebutius Hunterian EMOTIVE experience designed for the Antonine Wall display was driven by the overall, high-level aim to increase or positively affect visitors’ engagement and connection with the objects on display, and more broadly with related themes, historic periods, heritage, museums, and the past. They were designed iteratively, following the EMOTIVE conceptual framework and guide, and a process of co-creation, inviting end-user groups wherever possible. We used personas for developing our experiences, i.e. archetypical visitors based on the characteristics of real Hunterian visitors, and interpretation cards with key information about objects and exhibits. The use of personas helped us focus on real users and integrate the user-centred approach throughout the design process. By creating multiple individual personas and designing experiences for different combinations of them, we were able to think of how individual behavioural characteristics might impact the design at hand, which in turn allowed us to reflect on how to best balance differing user needs.
The first experience features the character of Ebutius, a centurion, named after the name found scratched on one of the hammerheads found on the Wall currently on display at The Hunterian. The scenario covers the abandonment of the Antonine Wall by the Romans, and started with the conceptual idea of ‘The Things We Leave Behind’ from which derived the experience finalised later as ‘Ebutius’s Dilemma’. ‘The Things We Leave Behind’ helped explain how the objects currently on display in the Hunterian Museum used to belong or be used by people who lived and worked on the Antonine Wall but were left behind when the Wall was abandoned. This also encouraged visitors to reflect on parallels with their life today and the conditions that might make them leave material evidence behind and what this can reveal about our society, values, and way of living.
The aims of the ‘Ebutius’s Dilemma’ experience were:
· To connect with the Antonine Wall through the story of the character of a Roman centurion
· Address universal themes (e.g. family, work, love, loss)
· Encourage empathy and emotional engagement
· Engage with objects in the gallery
· Challenge stereotypes (e.g. about military life, the relationship of Romans with locals)
Outline of narrative and experience structure of ‘Ebutius’s Dilemma’
In order to experience ‘Ebutius’s Dilemma’, visitors in the Antonine Wall gallery are given a smartphone with a set of headphones and assisted to launch it using an app. The experience starts with Ebutius introducing himself. His speech is displayed on screen as text together with the graphic of a centurion, as well as a voice-over. On the following screen Ebutius then explains the dilemma he faces: He must decide before sunrise whether to leave his home – the Roman fort at the site of Bar Hill - with the rest of the army, or stay behind with his partner, a local woman named Calle and their son Callum. He then asks the user to help him make this life-changing decision and in order for visitors to be able to do that, they are invited to first learn more about Ebutius and his life.
The experience has three main strands: one relates to Ebutius’s working life, another to his personal life and a third to his sense of honour and duty. These strands, and the museum objects that are cited within them, are all labelled according to the emotional relevance or significance they hold for Ebutius. So, for example, a Roman distance slab is linked with ‘His life’s work’ or a pair of children’s shoes with ‘My dear sweet child’. By using emotive language and labels in this way, the experience encourages visitors from the beginning to foster a connection and empathy with the characters and the story.
The different experience strands weave in the objects on display, directing the users to find the related artefacts and encouraging them to engage with them in new ways, beyond seeing them only as museum objects, and referring to underlying universal themes such as work, love, and family and linking them with Ebutius’s personal story.
At various points in each experience strand visitors are given choices, either to hear other segments related to Ebutius’s life, such as his career as a builder or to discover some general information about the object itself. If they choose the object they see an image of it on screen, with touchable hotspot areas which offer further information, usually archaeological facts, relating to the specific object and similar to the text in the museum label.
Visitors can continue to explore Ebutius’s life story by going another level into this narrative or they can return to the main menu and explore the other strands, The love of his life or The sacred oath he swore, with similar structure and mechanics. At any point within the experience the user is able to choose to make the decision for Ebutius based on what they have found out about him from the experience.
Ebutius’s Dilemma Hunterian online virtual experience
The Antonine Wall online virtual experience derived from the onsite ‘Ebutius’s Dilemma’ experience. We have retained the story-based approach, which allows the online, remote users (who are accessing this while offsite from the museum gallery) to choose their own path through the experience while they navigate their way through the virtual, online representation of the display to locate objects pertinent to the story.
The following EMOTIVE teams were involved in developing this experience:
• University of Glasgow providing image capture of the Antonine Wall display and conceptual design.
• ATHENA providing their Floorplan Editor Tool to create a virtual representation of the Antonine Wall display.
• Noho provided scriptwriting for the original ‘Ebutius’s Dilemma’ onsite experience.
The prototype was developed during the summer of 2018 and tested in August 2018-March 2019. The conceptual thinking behind this experience is that this is the offsite virtual version of the onsite experience which would allow both a) online, remote users from around the world (some of which might never have visited the Hunterian Museum) to access the story and get a feel of visiting the gallery virtually, as well as b) visitors who have used the onsite version of ‘Ebutius’s Dilemma’ to access a version of this experience after they have left the museum. Evaluation with primary and secondary teachers highlighted the usefulness of the offsite virtual experience not only as a visitor engagement but also as a teaching tool.
In order to position the offsite virtual experience and the story of ‘Ebutius’s Dilemma’ within the Antonine Wall display, a photo-realistic representation of the gallery was required with objects located within this representation and identifiable to the user. The virtual walkthrough of the Antonine Wall gallery is based on 12 360° images of the gallery, as well as images of the display cases and objects taken on-site by the University of Glasgow team at the Hunterian Museum using a 360° camera. These images were manually fed into to the Floor Plan Editor tool to create a 360° panoramic view of the physical space. This virtual walkthrough serves as the foundation within which to embed the story, in this case, ‘Ebutius’s Dilemma’. Two EMOTIVE authoring tools were used to create the offsite virtual version of ‘Ebutius’s Dilemma’, the Storyboard Editor and the Floor Plan Editor. The existing assets related to the latest version of the ‘Ebutius’s Dilemma’ onsite experience were extracted from the Storyboard Editor and fed into the Floor Plan Editor by the ATHENA and University of Glasgow teams. Users access the offsite virtual experience of ‘Ebutius’s Dilemma’ via a link on the web using their own online connection and device.
Both the onsite and the online version of the Ebutius’s dilemma app have been extensively evaluated with a range of physical and virtual visitors. The results of our evaluations showed that the app and the whole EMOTIVE approach are making a major contribution to the state of the art of digital heritage practice, due to their capacity to engender visitor engagement with museum displays and cultural heritage sites, and – most importantly – their potential for emotionally connecting visiting audiences with the distant human past.