Philly orgs get $100K grant to make video game about… alchemy

The Chemical Heritage Foundation is teaming up with Drexel and Gossamer Games to explore chemistry's predecessor.

Early renderings from the upcoming game, which is set in the mid 17th century.

(Courtesy photo)

In Age of Alchemy: The Goldsmith’s Daughter, you’re immersed in mid-17th-century London, where alchemy is all the rage, to explore the intersection of science, culture and history.

To help the video game we just described come to life, the National Endowment for the Humanities has awarded Old City’s Chemical Heritage Foundation a $100,000 grant to build a prototype in partnership with Drexel University’s Entrepreneurial Game Studio and Gossamer Games.

Thomas Sharpe, founder of Gossamer Games, describes the upcoming project as a first-person, puzzle adventure game set in the golden age of alchemy. The company will have access to CHF’s art repository to put together the game, slated for completion in 2018.

Gossamer Games is a core team of three based out of Drexel’s Baiada Institute for Entrepreneurship. After a fully-funded Kickstarter campaign in August, the startup added a composer to its roster.

So, uh, why alchemy? The predecessor to chemistry actually has ample ties to the video game world, particularly in role-playing titles like Final Fantasy and World of Warcraft.


“Alchemy in the early modern period was not a fool’s quest for riches and eternal life: it provided economic opportunity, invited curiosity, and examined relationships between humankind and the natural world,” said Erin McLeary, museum director at CHF. “Alchemy shaped ideas about experimental scientific practices and paved the way for modern chemistry. We are thrilled by this opportunity to use our painting and manuscript collections to bring this dynamic and exciting history of alchemical practice to a wider audience.”

In 2014, the Old City museum released an app called ChemCrafter (which mysterious did numbers in Russia) built by Fishtown creative firm Bluecadet.

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