Misadventure in Little Lon is recommended to secondary school teachers. First, playing the game will provide a great insight into the potential for using augmented reality to enhance learning. Second, it provides a unique resource that could inspire further student inquiry in a range of learning areas, including History, Legal Studies, English and Geography.

The app offers an immersive, place-based experience in which students can explore the streets and laneways of this notorious part of the city. History teachers in particular will appreciate its potential, especially in the later years. By engaging with historical characters on location, students can develop a picture of the social realities of life in Melbourne’s underbelly over a century ago, giving them insights into the complex class, gender and power structures that shaped people’s lives. It also offers a soundscape that immerses the listener in the language and colloquialisms of the time.

Historical actors, places, events and concepts are introduced in context: Who were the Bourke St Rats and Squizzy Taylor? What are sly grog shops? How did larrikinism evolve? Why were brothels run by women? What role did religion play in shaping social norms? How did industrialisation give rise to these so called ‘slum’ areas? What characterised law and order? Students are challenged to listen carefully and evaluate competing evidence in order to develop their own interpretation. As a historical representation of the past, the app can also stimulate inquiry around the use and interpretation of sources and perspectives. If you haven’t experimented with augmented reality yet, the formidable brothel Madam – Maud Gunter, Constable Barclay, John Evans, Reverend Edgar and co are excellent guides and will inspire further investigation into the potential of this sort of digital tool for historical thinking and other learning.

Dr Rebecca Cairns, History Educator