Odiel’s Wheel – Web and mobile games for exploring local industrial heritage

General information

Domain: Industrial Heritage (everyday objects)
Title: In het wiel van Odie (Odiel’s Wheel)
Launch: 2012
Country: Belgium
Website: http://www.inhetwielvanodiel.be

Project focus

In het wiel van Odie (Odiel’s Wheel) is a project that involves students and teachers in the communication of local industrial heritage and social history by inviting them to create Web-based and mobile games with historical characters and content. The National Cycling Museum, City Museums of Izegem, the regional heritage group TERF (West-Flanders) and creative media partners provided content and a Web-authoring tool that allows participants to create game-like historic narratives rather easily. The project nourishes a “do-it-yourself” approach of telling the story of local cultural heritage by creating and playing mobile games which point out interesting relations between people, objects and events.



The Odiel’s Wheel project has been initiated and coordinated by the regional heritage association TERF. In this association seven municipalities in the region of West-Flandern (Hooglede, Ingelmunster, Izegem, Lichtervelde, Moorslede, Roeselare en Staden) cooperate to make content and knowledge about the local cultural heritage accessible to the public.
The concept and authoring tool for Odiel’s Wheel has been developed by technical and museum pedagogical experts of the iDiscover Center of Hasselt University and the Gallo-Roman Museum (Tongeren). The initial game focused on historical content of the National Cycling Museum and the City Museums of Izegem (e.g. bicycles, shoes, brushes, etc.).

Financing / funding

The project has been sponsored by the Flandern Tourism Association, the Province of West-Flandern and smaller contributions of several other institutions in the region. The cultural heritage organisations of municipalities participating in the TERF association are providing historical images, biographical and other information for the project.

Content & IPR / licensing

For the “do-it-yourself” approach historical material, background information and the authoring tool are being used. The approach is basically about inviting young people to conceive own stories and game-like interactions on the Web or with mobile devices.
The initial Odiel’s Wheel game can illustrate the approach: As the main character Odiel Defraeye, the first Belgian ever to win the Tour de France in 1912, was chosen. He was a worker in a brush making factory in Izegem and became a cycling legend in Flanders. Based on his life story and related characters gamers can explore local history in the first half of the 20th century. Students and teachers are invited to conceive similar games using historical material and the online authoring tool. For the initial game also a handbook explaining the concept and available content has been provided.

The project webpage is available in Dutch, French and English; the authoring tool and the Odiel’s Wheel handbook only in Dutch. The copyrights in the digitized historical photographs and other material remain with the content providers. Games developed by groups of students and teachers can be freely accessed on the project webpage for educational purposes; the Odiel’s Wheel game is also available as an app on the Google Play Store.

Technologies used / innovative features

The project website provides access to the authoring tool to create a new or further develop an existing game. Download of the Web-authoring tool requires that the students, teachers or guests register. The tool provides a variety of templates for defining different types of tasks and game-like challenges as well as integrating different kinds of media. The project website also features an “Online Tour Collection”. Taking these tours requires having installed a Web browser such as Firefox or Chrome in a current version.

Target users

The “do-it-yourself” approach aims at groups of young people, teachers, museum curators and educational programme managers. Game-like stories such as Odiel’s Wheel allow for using local museum and archive content for highlighting ordinary people, everyday objects, how they were produced and used. Hence topics of social history, handicraft and industry, work and leisure can be brought to the fore. Such topics might be more appealing to many people than stories of “great men”, “great moments of history”, “masterpieces” etc. typically featured by national museums and “blockbuster” travelling exhibitions.

Lessons learned

Collaboration: The project mobilized small museums, educators and media developers to make content and knowledge about the local cultural heritage accessible in a novel way. The wider circle of organisations involved in the project includes municipalities, tourism agencies and social communities like the Friends of Odiel Defraeye (bicyclers who enjoy meeting like-minded people).

Content: Museums are often focused on their collections and themes while a story or game can allow for linking objects of different museum collections through a historical narrative. Mobilizing young people to create game-like narratives, characters and interactions based on cultural heritage content can promote learning about and appreciation of local history and heritage.

Technologies used / innovative features: The content and tools used in the project (e.g. digitized photographs, templates for Web content editing, standard browsers, etc.) are not high-tech. The innovative part is the “do-it-yourself” approach. It also offers a rather cheap way of making content of museums and archives accessible in an engaging way.

Sources and links