In this weeks bulletin, we discuss ancient football-basketball, the history of Mastermind, the kind words of the Ubisoft CEO, the free weekend of Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, the history behind aliens in video games and the new VALUE Minecraft server!

3400-year-old ballgame court discovered in Mexico

In 2015, archaeologists started an excavation in Etlatongo, a 3400-year-old village in the mountains of Oaxaca, Mexico. They thought to have started in the center of the village, but found a mysterious flat stone floor of about half a football field, sided by mounds of about a meter high. After five years of mapping, more excavating and radiocarbon dating, the team concluded that the court was used to play ballgames, and was constructed anywhere between 1443 and 1305 BCE. Although unclear which ballgame might have been played there, later iterations of ballgames in this region resembled a combination between football and basketball, with players bouncing rubber balls of their hips into hoops next to the field. Read more over at Science!

Image: Christoph Weiditz, Germanisches Nationalmuseum Nürnberg

Mastermind turns 50!

You might know the codebreaking board game Mastermind. Well, it is going to be 50 years old this year! For those who do not know the game: a codemaker places a four coloured pegs in the playing board. The codebreaker has to guess the position of the coloured pegs, and the codemaker can only inform the breaker on a peg being in the correct position, or it being in the combination but not in the right position. It may seem outdated, but back in the 1970’s, the game was a huge hit. There even were World Championships! VICE posted an extensive article on the history behind Mastermind, which might be more complicated and mysterious than you might think. Read it here!

Image: BoardGameGeek user Kaffedrake

Ubisoft CEO comforts employees

We can’t get around the global crisis we are facing now. Most of us are now working from home; the same goes for the employees of Ubisoft. In times where publishers are more known for mistreating their workers and making them work too many hours, it is refreshing to see that the CEO of Ubisoft, Yves Guillemot, sent a heartwarming message to all the Ubisoft employees working from home. Guillemot also pointed out the contribution video games can have in these difficult times: ‘Moreover, our core business – video games – enables us to offer a meaningful contribution to all those who currently seek enjoyable ways of spending their time within the confinement of their homes.’ Read the whole message on Kotaku.

Assassin’s Creed Odyssey free from 19-22 March!

As the Ubisoft CEO pointed out, video games can help us through difficult times. Therefore, it is great that Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey is playable for free this weekend! You can claim your free weekend through the Ubisoft website. If you haven’t played enough, Ubisoft is also having a huge publisher sale over at Steam, until the 26th of March! You can get some huge games, like Odyssey, for 67% off!

Image: Ubisoft

How Aliens, and not Alien, shaped three decades of gaming history

Ridley Scott’s 1979 classic Alien set the tone for many sequels and video game spin offs. However, it was not this first iteration of the face huggers that left a lasting imprint on the video game industry, but the first sequel: Aliens from 1986, directed by James Cameron. Alexander Chatziioannou over at AVClub wrote an extensive article on how the gaming industry only adapted the alien after the 1986 film, and not much attention was given to the extraterrestrials before 1986. Read it all over at AVClub!

Video: Movieclips Trailers

VALUE Heritage server on Minecraft!

In the difficult times we are all going through, we have decided to create a Minecraft server for the students of Leiden University to travel digitally and rebuild world heritage! In our World Archaeology server you will find a 1:1000 (mostly flat) Minecraft version of our planet to explore and build whatever you like. Credits to whose map we used as a baseline to create our own. The server is a creative space where all players are encouraged to work together and rebuild heritage around the world on its original location. From Huey Teocalli to the Wall of China and from Stonehenge to Chichen Itza, people can build whatever they like! While the server is currently for Leiden University students from the Faculty of Archaeology and the Leiden Center for Digital Heritage, we are open to invite other people if they want to join, so feel free to send us an email. If this is a success we might even open it up completely! We streamed some building over at Twitch yesterday. So stay tuned for all the amazing builds that will come out of this server and, above all, stay healthy.

Image: The Palace of Minos being built by Dr. Random and Ymir

Image: the Belfry of Ghent built by oomzer