Questioning the accessibility of St. Paul’s Cathedral Project

The purpose of the Virtual St. Paul’s Cathedral Project was to “explore public preaching…enabling us to experience a Paul’s Cross sermon as a performance…in real time”. At first sight, the project seems to be a product-based question because the player “experiences” a digitally-created performance from the 17th century. However, upon further investigation, this project was more intended to explore process-based questions. The makers dwelled on how they transformed a rough rendering of a church yard into a historically accurate church yard with sounds and sights. They mainly grappled with the “formative discussion and development” section of their project where they make clear distinctions of where they used historical information, made approximations and recreated lost experiences. This helped them contend with their own assumptions of how the Paul’s Cross sermon looked and sounded like. I appreciated how they acknowledged their own biases in interpreting this event and were open different models with other interpretations of the same event, but I had some hesitations regarding whether the process-based question they pursued was effective in allowing greater public accessibility.

Since the purpose of the project was not meant to be a game-like experience, it seems irrelevant to determine whether or not they fulfilled the humanities scholarship or “fun” experience balance. However, looking at the website alone, it wasn’t very accessible or cohesive. It was not very user-friendly and on the website pages, there was a lot of text with the same terms bolded. The acoustics part of their project was not added to the visual “fly over” videos, making my experience of the fly-around not very unified. Thus, although not all “serious games” must meet a game-like experience, I wonder what the best way is to engage with humanities scholarship while remaining accessible to a larger audience.

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