The Jewel of the Valleys Alternate Reality Game

We created and ran an educational Civil War “alternate reality” game that began on May 15th, 2011, hosted by the National Civil War Museum in Harrisburg, PA.

The game, titled “The Jewel of the Valleys,” was being run in support of the fundraiser “In Their Footsteps: On the March in Pennsylvania,” which benefits the education department of the Museum.

The game ran the length of the fundraiser, in which the brave museum curator, Brett Kelley, again chose to live the life of a Civil War soldier for two weeks. Last year, Brett chose to live outdoors as a Union soldier (and it coincided with two of the nastiest northeastern blizzards) last February. This year, Brett traveled as a Confederate soldier by foot from Fredericksburg, VA to Harrisburg.

The game kicked off with a “QR code” and web address being sent to educators and students around the country. The Jewel of the Valleys website and the Jewel of the Valleys Wiki detailed a dark and mysterious puzzle to be solved through the use of Civil War era communication technologies and authentic Civil War documents in the Museum’s archives.

Students worked collaboratively and on their own to follow the mystery. The ultimate objective of the game wass to solve the mystery of “The Jewel of the Valleys.” The winner(s) of the game were announced as Brett reached the end of his journey- the Civil War Museum in Harrisburg.

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