A Contest To Design An Explorable Gothic World

Make that Twilight—I mean, Edgar Allen Poe—video game you've always wished for.

Pudding Lane

Last year's contest winners created a historically accurate, 17th-century London environment.Screenshot from "Pudding Lane Productions, Crytek Off The Map" by Joe Dempsey on YouTube

I'm excited already. There's a contest in the U.K. right now for students to design an explorable online world to the theme of gothic literature. To be precise, the theme is "Terror and Wonder: the Gothic Imagination." My guilty pleasures are Jane Eyre, Bram Stoker's Dracula and "The Cask of Amontillado," so I already can't wait for October, when judges will decide on a winner.

The competition, called Off the Map, provides for free many of the materials developers will need. There's Cryengine, a video game development engine by the German company Crytek, which is free for non-commercial use. In addition, the British Library is offering historic maps and illustrations for reference, as well as free sound files. The sounds include "crashing waves, blustery wind, heavy rain and some eerie screams and cries from a variety of animals."

The contest is open to undergraduate and graduate students in the U.K. who aren't employed full time in the games industry. Here's where you register.

The British Library and its collaborators also held this contest last year, when the challenge was to re-make a historic place. The winners created a digital version of 17th-century London: