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Hacking the Good Life

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This project is centred on a Portuguese book-game hybrid from 1540. The purpose of the original book-game is to teach adolescents how to live a good life through being virtuous. The book and the game’s theoretical foundation is largely based on Aristotle’s moral theory, but the author adds Christian elements as well. In our project, which we call “Hacking the Good Life,” we study, take apart, and re-work João de Barros’ creation, starting from the original material, extending it and playing with it to see where the process leads us. The project is still in progress, and in this edition of The Digital Review, we share the results of our process to date. Click "BEGIN" to try out some of our digital approaches to the game of Moral Virtues!

is responsible for implementing (programming) the digital hack of Barros. Terhi Marttila is an artist-researcher and a postdoctoral fellow at the eGames Lab (ITI/LARSyS). Terhi creates playful interactive works that orbit notions of digital literature, often working with recordings of her own voice or with the voices of others, including machines. In her practice-based research, she explores topics such as attitudes towards refugees, migration inequality, her own relationship to place and migration, gendered beauty ideals, our relationship to technology, and lately, our relationship with the natural environment and speculations on the effects of climate change. Her works have been published in The New River Journal,,, in Electronic Literature Collection 4 and shared at various conferences, including ELO, ACM SIGGRAPH SPARKS, Consciousness Reframed, Videojogos, and Art of Research, among others.

is an expert on Barros’ book and game. Celeste Pedro is a communication designer graduated from the Fine Arts Faculty in Porto, Portugal. Her main focuses have since been typography and editorial design. She holds a master’s in Design and Intermedia from the University of Barcelona. In recent years, she has specialised in early printed books and palaeography while conducting her PhD research on the History of Portuguese Print Culture in the Sixteenth Century, funded by FCT. Recently she was a post-doc researcher for the project “From Data to Wisdom - Philosophizing Data Visualizations in the Middle Ages and Early Modernity (13th-17th c.)” at the Institute of Philosophy of the University of Porto, where she now continues her work on medieval and early modern diagrams.

is responsible for translating Barros’ work into English. Sandra Simões is a Portuguese translator and language consultant with over 20 years of experience working both with businesses and academic institutions. She is certified by the Chartered Institute of Linguists and holds a Master’s Degree in Medieval Portuguese.

“This research was funded by the Portuguese Recovery and Resilience Program(PRR), IAPMEI/ANI/FCT under Agenda no.26, C645022399-00000057 (eGamesLab).”