I am super excited to announce that from today onwards the @gamingarchaeo blog will have a guest contributor – the hugely talented environment artist Dave McDonald. I have had the privilege of talking and more recently collaborating with Dave about a number of interesting heritage topics – from constructing heritage scenes through environmental storytelling principles to analysis of the current photogrammetric practices. The experiences, process and knowledge which he has shared with me have been hugely beneficial – adding a much needed critical, practical and industry informed perspective to my own growing practices. So give him a big welcome and feel free to leave questions in the comments! I look forward to seeing the comments and critisism he brings up over the coming weeks and hope you enjoy this fresh perspective on the intersection of heritage and games! – over to you Dave!


Hello there, Tara has kindly allowed me to contribute to her blog and I thought I’d write a little intro about me. Well, my name is Dave McDonald and I’ve been an environment artist in the videogames industry for coming up to around 15 years now. I’ve worked on many AAA titles including the Project Gotham Racing Series for Microsoft and Wipeout for Sony and have amassed a broad spectrum of knowledge about not only what my role requires but the various components that goes into the making of a videogame.

My work can be found here:  https://damcdonald.carbonmade.com/

Right, that’s the who I am bit out of the way, now for the why I’m here part.

In the last 4 years or so, I’ve felt more and more that videogames, both in theory and technology, can expand out of the traditional entertainment sphere it currently resides in and positively affect and change other industries. What are these Industries? Well, could be anything from architecture, construction, medicine, sport, heck even government, oh and yes, Heritage.

So I’ve spent the past few years looking into this idea and sadly it seems that industries either haven’t hit upon that realisation or it’s at a very experimental/hobbyist stage.

When I explored heritage, initially I was facing the same issues until I got in contact with Dr. Sara Perry who kindly introduced me to Tara. Since then Tara and I have been discussing what role videogames could play in heritage. Obviously I’m coming at it from a purely videogames point of view whereas Tara is approaching it more from the middle, with both a game and an archaeology perspective. Overall, we do seem to be pretty much on the same page.

Initially I was planning to write my own blog, but thought it would make sense to ask Tara if she would agree for me to contribute to her blog instead. Thankfully she agreed, so here I am.

So what do I plan to do?  Well, just give my thoughts about how videogames tech can be applied to heritage and not only that but give my thoughts about what it’s like dealing with the world of heritage from an outsiders point of view, which leads me onto the disclaimer part.

Disclaimer? Well I’m well aware that the world of heritage (like the games industry) has its own rules, its own methods and then I come in (the proverbial bull in the china shop) and start talking about things I don’t know about, maybe even going as far as to cause offence!  I don’t intend to, that’s not my style, but please bear in mind I’m just giving my point of view as the person on the outside commenting on the inside. Hopefully, it will provoke thought and debate.

And lastly, believe it or not, I don’t know everything about the games industry. I’m more than happy to say I’m a mere hobbyist when it comes to photogrammetry/scanning and wouldn’t know the difference between  C++ from C# if it slapped me in the face. Basically, there are people out there that are far more qualified than I am so expect me to raise issues/pitfalls when there is already a fix or answer thus making that particular entry redundant.

I do think we’re onto something here, as I’ll discuss at a later point I do feel the games industry does need to expand out of just being an entertainment product and think that what it could give to other industries, including heritage, is potentially very exciting, not only for the “science” of heritage but in engaging the public too.