Games Simulation

Computer games provide an accessible, powerful, visually enticing and interactive platform for engaging with cultural heritage. The Vista Centre is committed to the research and development of computer game applications in heritage and archaeology, with work ranging from the visualisation of the submerged prehistoric landscape of the North Sea to the creation of community focused interactive virtual worlds. Our work is engaging with a number of themes, including:


  • Engendering community engagement with digital heritage, landscape and narrative through immersive collaborative games.

  • Methodological developments in the game-based visualisation of GIS-derived large landscape data.

  • Developing workflows to represent archaeological survey data in gaming environments.



Our game-based simulations include Stonehenge Interactive representing an idealised Stonehenge, developed as a technology showcase, Virtual Laxton, a collaborative game-based exploration of a medieval castle based on digital survey data, and Made in Light, a meditation on landscape, light and time, developed using CityScape. Other virtual environments include Wooden Henge and Geldeston Ironage Site.


<< Visualisation

Explore Related Projects Below
   Virtual Laxton


Four seasons of student-led survey have generated an exhaustive digital survey of this fine medieval motte and bailey castle, in Nottinghamshire. Traditional mapping and pseudo-3D visualisation of the castle earthworks, while technically competent, distance users from the monument and fail to fully engage the viewer in exploring of the meaning of the survey data in terms of the form of the earthworks, their relationship to other evidence (vestiges of masonry) and their interpretation.

Virtual Laxton is a prototype collaborative game, developed using CryENGINE, allowing several users to simultaneously explore a game-based rendering of the earthworks of Laxton castle as they survive and were recorded by our survey. Users explore the game world in avatar form in an unguided ramble through undergrowth, up banks and down ditches, a virtual representation of the real experience of investigating the expansive earthworks.

Laxton featured in the recent British Archaeology article “castle building” by the Vista team.



Virtual Laxton Vista Version from Keith Challis on Vimeo.


  Stonehenge Interactive


The iconic stones represented in an idealised form using digital map data from the Ordnance Survey in this CryENGINE based game. Developed as a technology demonstrator for a visitor resource, Stonehenge Interactive is based on digital map data from the Ordnance Survey showing the topography and vegetation of contemporary Salisbury Plain. The game allows users to roam freely around the stones and earthworks of Stonehenge and its environs, gaining a sense of scale and place.


Vista is currently engaged in paradigm shifting research at Stonehenge where a team led by the University of Birmingham and the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Archaeological Prospection and Virtual Archaeology in Austria have discovered a major ceremonial monument less than one kilometre away from Stonehenge.


Stonehenge Interactive: Vista Version from Keith Challis on Vimeo.


  Made in Light


Games encourage creative exploration of the possibilities of landscape. Made in Light, a visual meditation on landscape, light and time, explores these possibilities. Developed using PixelActive’s rapid urban modelling software, CityScape, and Crytek's CryENGINE 2, the five minute movie uses virtual timelapse photography to explore changing lighting and the passage of time in the context of the unchanging landscape.

The movie includes Vista’s models of contemporary Stonehenge, simulations of historic flooding in the Trent Valley and the City of York, and the iconic Doorways to Other Worlds, of Leskernick on Dartmoor.


Made in Light: Vista Version 2 720i from Keith Challis on Vimeo.



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