Virtual Buffalo Bill’s Wild West

My colleague James Connolly and I, working with staff from the Buffalo Bill Center of the West, and artists and designers from Ball State’s Institute for Digital Intermedia Arts (IDIA), have crafted a computer-generated world that authentically simulates the Wild West show dramatizing frontier life. Virtual Buffalo Bill’s Wild West is a multiplayer virtual world that simulates Buffalo Bill Wild West Show circa 1899. The project serves as a prototype for developing and testing various designs and configurations that integrate a 3D environment and a web-based digital archive. This digital history project is built in Unity 3D using custom software created by IDIA Lab. The archive employs the Collective Access content management system, using VRA Core standards.

This collection contains source materials for the three-dimensional recreation of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West and Congress of Rough Riders of the World, a traveling exhibition that toured North America and Europe between 1883 and 1908. This enormously popular show presented to its audiences a recreation of life in the Old West, complete with spectacular displays of riding and shooting, as well as performances by “rough riders” from around the world. In addition to materials used as the basis for the design of the virtual world, this archive contains primary sources that provide historical context for understanding the Wild West show, its role in creating popular images of the Old West, the social history of the era.

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