As professors in the Department of Linguistics and Modern and Classical Languages, Literatures and Cultures at the University of Kentucky, Andrew and Brenna Byrd are dedicated to understanding how languages work, as well as the interaction between languages and the cultures of the people who speak them. Throughout their successful careers in academia, they have also strived to share their knowledge outside of the university.
Outreach is important due to the obscurity of Indo-European Studies. "Not many people know about this field, and folks only learn about it when they study multiple ancient languages, such as Latin and Greek. As you can imagine, there aren’t many people who do that," Andrew Byrd said.
Most recently, the Byrd's have developed a plan to educate others about the roots of these historic languages through the use of modern technology.
With the help of Professor George Landon, the head of the Eastern Kentucky University (EKU) Gaming Institute, along with a whole host of scholars from around the globe — together, they are creating The Anatolian Trail: An Indo-European Adventure, a video game designed to transport players back in time to the age of the Proto-Indo-Europeans.
"By following the adventures of two twins, Gwen and Lucas, players will interact with the locals in their native tongue, perform epic quests and battle monsters from the folklore of the rich Indo-European tradition," Andrew Byrd explained.
For their intricate plan, the Byrd's and Landon have been awarded an National Endowment for the Humanities Digital Projects for the Public Discovery Grant. The $30,000 will be used to turn the concept into reality. "We intend to use this money to develop a prototype of the game," Brenna Byrd explained. "We will then have our target audience play the prototype for feedback.”