- The Ellisland Trust developed an interactive Robert Burns Minecraft digital experience to highlight the life and great works of the National Bard and appeal to a younger audience.
- Interface linked the Robert Burns Ellisland Trust with academics from the University of Glasgow's Games and Gaming Lab, who in turn connected them with the University's Minecraft Society, helping them access funding from South of Scotland Destination Alliance
- The project was funded through the Scottish Government’s Tourism Leadership & Recovery Fund to support business and community-led tourism enterprises taking the lead in the sector’s COVID-19 recovery which was administered through South of Scotland Enterprise.
- The Burns Minecraft experience will help widen the reach and appeal of Robert Burns, his life and works, attract a younger demographic and help increase visitors to the Ellisland Museum and Farm.
University of Glasgow
Tourism and Leisure
Dumfries & Galloway
Rabbie Burns goes virtual – Robert Burns Ellisland Farm recreated in Minecraft highlighting the life and great works of the National Bard.
Ellisland Museum & Farm was the farmhouse built by Robert Burns, Scotland’s National Bard in 1788. It was his home, where he farmed, and where he worked as an Excise officer. Today Ellisland is a much-celebrated museum housing one of the world’s most important collections of Burns treasures.
Ellisland Museum & Farm near Dumfries was the farmhouse built by Robert Burns and was his home until 1791 where he farmed and worked as an Excise officer. During his time living there he experienced his most creative and fruitful years in terms of his poetry and song. This is where he wrote Tam O’Shanter and Auld Lang Syne. Today Ellisland is a much-celebrated museum housing one of the world’s most important collections of Burns treasures.
During 2020/21 Covid-19 saw visitor numbers drop dramatically and visitor attractions closing their doors for a significantly long period, some of them indefinitely. The main challenge during this time was how to maintain interest, widen reach and encourage visitors to return.
The Ellisland Trust, who run the Ellisland Museum & Farm wanted to develop an interactive Robert Burns Minecraft digital experience appealing to a younger audience to highlight the life and great works of the National Bard. Their idea was to depict his life as an Excise Officer and farmer as well as highlighting his poems and songs and other Burns associated landmarks in Dumfries and Ayrshire.
Ellisland Farm, where Burns lived from 1788-1791, has been brought back to virtual life in Minecraft.
Students and academics at the University of Glasgow worked with the Robert Burns Ellisland Trust to faithfully recreate, in Minecraft, the 18th-century farm as Burns and his family knew it.
The Minecraft Ellisland world was built by around 15 students – undergraduates and postgraduates drawn from a range of different subjects – who are part of the University’s Minecraft Society.
Bailey Hodgson, the Minecraft Society’s President and one of its founders, who has been using Minecraft for 12 years, played a significant role both in project setup and delivery.
The Minecraft Ellisland project was led by Dr Timothy Peacock and Dr Matthew Barr from the University’s Game and Gaming Lab, a cross-disciplinary lab – based in the University’s College of Arts – with a focus on how games and gaming can be used in research and teaching.
Interface were able to find an academic partner at very short notice to tie in with funding from South of Scotland Destination Alliance (SSDA) and made the relevant introductions between the University of Glasgow, SSDA and Ellisland Trust.
The project was funded through SSDA from the Scottish Government’s Tourism Leadership & Recovery Fund which supports tourism enterprises taking the lead in the sector’s COVID-19 recovery.
- The Robert Burns Minecraft experience is an innovative use of gaming technology to reach a wider, younger audience. Engaging young people with Robert Burns in a modern, appealing way will help to raise the profile of his work and lead to an increase in visitors to the Ellisland Farm and other associated Robert Burns visitor attractions in and around Dumfries and Ayrshire.
- Players have an opportunity to not only hear Burns’ poetry and song while in the Minecraft world but are also able to converse in Scots with the poet and his wife Jean Armour. It is believed to be the first time Scots has been spoken on Minecraft, which has nearly 140 million monthly active users around the world.
- The Burns Minecraft experience has widened the reach and appeal of Robert Burns, his life and works, attracted a younger demographic and helped the Ellisland Museum and Farm thrive and survive post Covid-19.