Making It Relevant: History Museums for Kids
This particular history game is part of a suite of games created by Tronvig Group for the DiMenna Children’s History Museum at the New-York Historical Society. Chasing Liberty refers to “Liberty the Dog” and the game’s chase sequence that takes place in Dutch New York (1660).
Liberty is a character based on the dog seen in a depiction of the 1776 event, Pulling Down the Statue Of King George III, New York City. This 1852 painting by Johannes Adam Simon Oertel is part of the New-York Historical Society Collection.
Chasing Liberty history game backstory
Adding to the anachronism, the game is accessed from Anna and Chance’s Upper West Side townhouse basement (also known as “the kid’s clubhouse“). Anna and Chance are pre-teen detectives, and they have two uncles. One is Finnias the Forger A.K.A. “the Sloppy Copier.” He’s the dark sheep uncle (seemingly from Brooklyn), and anyone who cares to join up with Chance and Anna can try and catch him by playing Sloppy Copy. Their other uncle is the inventor of the time machine that rather gaudily occupies one corner of their club house (the time machine was actually invented and designed by my then 8-year-old son Emerson). No one knows how it is supposed to work, or if it will work at all until Anna tries putting the red magnifying glass that’s hanging on the wall into the key shaped slot on the mantle. As soon as she does this the whole machine comes to life.
As luck would have it, just at that moment Liberty—their canine sidekick—barks, jumps up from his bed and runs right into Uncle Pete’s time machine and ZAP! he disappears. Anna decides to go in after him, and they are both transported back to New York in 1660 when the city was known not as New York but as New Amsterdam, and by today’s standards, it was not much of a city at all.
The game is a chase game in which Anna chases Liberty around Dutch New York on her skateboard, and the player gets a kind of running (or skateboarding) tour of Dutch New York. The observant will notice that as soon as you leave the city gates these is nothing but farm land (and this is only just north of Wall Street!). Skateboarding along Broadway and then a trail outside the city gates and finally back down the shoreline along the East River, Anne—with Liberty’s help—uncovers clues that when assembled together get the player free admission to the DiMenna Children’s History Museum and a prize in the New-York Historical Society Store.
Anna is just leaping over a stump in the road as she gets to the fort at the terminus of Broadway.
Now outside the New Amsterdam city gates, Anna jumps high over a wallowing pig.
Play the Chasing Liberty history game, and tell us what you think.
Immense thanks to Sage, Hideko, Nick Balaban, and especially Cosmin for your incredibly hard work on this project.