Salvē, World!

Classics students learn Latin by time traveling to Ancient Rome. Virtually, that is.

Salvē, World!
LinguaVitae players interact with different characters in Latin, like this centurion soldier. / Screenshot courtesy Brian Beams.

Instead of memorizing the word for bread in Latin (it’s panis, by the way), SCU Classics students can just go buy some from the store. In Ancient Rome. Which they travel to not by time machine but via LinguaVitae, a virtual reality (VR) interactive storytelling game created by Santa Clara faculty and students.

Lissa Crofton-Sleigh, a Classics lecturer, Brian Beams, director of the SCU Imaginarum digital art lab, and Christina Ri with Academic Technology virtually presented the project at the NarraScope conference in June.

Developed for the Oculus Quest VR headset system, the game follows Titus, a young poet living in Rome at the end of the 1st Century B.C.E. who encounters a hungry centurion soldier and quests to find him some bread. Why Latin, a dead language? “The game puts students in the world themselves in order to see dead languages as alive, which helps them connect more with humans of the past,” Crofton-Sleigh says. “Understanding what people did in the past can help us understand what we’re doing in the present and what we decide to do in the future.”

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