A conversation on the efficacies of the game engine to address notions of sacred space: the digital songlines project and transgressions of sacredness
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The Digital Songlines (DSL) game engine is used as a vehicle for Indigenous Australian storytelling. Their storytelling is inextricably linked to the 'country' from which it emerges. The game engine provides a simulation of that country for embedding of the stories to be told. Much of the 'country' referred to is sacred. However, the fundamental underlying principles of threedimensional reproduction of space in a 3D computer game (3DCG) defines all spaces as mathematically equal - there is no place for notions of sacred spaces. This presents a dilemma for those cultures that do not subscribe to the scientific notions of ontological certainty underpinning such mathematically modelled space. In the case of the DSL game engine, notions of the sacredness of the country modelled has been made explicit in order to highlight its importance for its physical-world corollary. Hence, this paper discusses notions of sacredness and its place in the simulational spaces of the DSL's 3DCG engine. It presents a series of dilemmas for the inclusion of sacred places in simulational spaces. It does not attempt to resolve these dilemmas, but rather to bring them into sharp relief with examples drawn from the DSL project experience. In so doing, it presents a new way of thinking through the significance of this issue for Western and non-Western use of the 3DCG in cultural heritage applications.