A version of Explore Ellisland! in Minecraft has been released for mobile phones, allowing more users to explore the 18th century farm where Robert Burns wrote Auld Lang Syne. This educational game is also being made available for schools in time for Burns’ birthday on 25 January. The game recreates the 1788 farm, located on the banks of the River Nith, in the world’s most popular computer game, Minecraft, which has nearly 140 million monthly active users.
Players of Explore Ellisland! can hear an exclusive recorded version of Auld Lang Syne by singer Emily Smith and listen to Burns’ epic poem Tam o Shanter, which was written at Ellisland – the best preserved of all Burns’ homes and the only one he built himself. The success of Minecraft Ellisland has led to interest in similar projects, providing new collaborative ways of exploring heritage through research-led gaming.
Joan McAlpine, project director of the Robert Burns Ellisland Trust, stated that the game has helped increase visitor numbers and reach out to a different generation, modernizing the understanding of Burns and his era. The mobile and education version of the game is expected to reach even more young people, providing a rich experience that uses Scots language and several of Burns’s poems.