Flashback: The Ruined

Flashback: The Ruined

Who are we? What is the secret of our identity? Does the answer lie in Scotland’s past?

We were delighted to partner with the National Galleries of Scotland and Impact Arts to realise this interactive narrative experience, Flashback: The Ruined game!

The following characters and stories were inspired by historical paintings by Scottish artists in the National Galleries of Scotland’s collection.

Flashback is part of the Ruined: Re-inventing Scottish History exhibition, at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery.

The young people who created these stories were attending a Creative Pathways course, led by Impact Arts.

The Exhibition

The RUINED exhibition at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery was created over the last four years by young Scots re-inventing Scottish history – imaginatively mashing-up works from the National Galleries of Scotland collection.

In the exhibition, visitors will witness shocking events and ghosts from Scotland’s past, as they enter a time machine in which multiple video projections flicker across a set of ruins. 

It’s anarchy! False heroes and heroines, wicked tyrants and bloodied martyrs, the angry mob, hard borders, sad religions and unwatchable violence – all alive and kicking in the ruins of this Scottish fantasy.

The young people on the Image Liberation Force project, who were attending employability training courses, have rediscovered themselves – cracked and creaky – in the ruins of the Scottish past. They have invested their imaginations in historic paintings depicting epic events and powerful personalities … and brought them to life.

Their story is told by their very own ‘bard’, Edinburgh music producer and rapper Mercurius MC, who spares none in his visceral address to reshaping Scotland’s story.


From Sat 26 Jun 2021 – Sun 14 Nov 2021

Open daily, 10am-5pm
(Thu-Sat from 1 July)

At the Scottish National Portrait Gallery 

Admission free | Advance booking required

To find out more and visit the exhibition, go to: nationalgalleries.org/exhibition/ruined-reinventing-scottish-history

The Game

We invite you to take this journey of discovery through seven ruins left over from Scottish history.

Each ruin is inhabited by a ghost whose story has to be told – before they can be released from their haunting. You must discover their identity and the riddle that was their life.

Find each character’s story depicted in their heraldic crest – and discover how we have got to where we are today.

Flashback has been created as a partnership between the National Galleries of Scotland, Tinderbox Collective and Impact Arts.

© National Galleries of Scotland, Impact Arts, Tinderbox Collective and the artists, 2021

Game Controls (play on PC with a keyboard)

WASD keys to move and jump

X to talk to characters and cycle through text

Z to exit text at end of dialogue

Play the game below, or go here to play on Itch.io


Please note – the game may take a little while to load, and works best on Chrome.

​You may also need to click the game screen below for the game to start/controls to work.

Game Artist/Creator Credits

Stories by:
Gemma Allan, Alice Simpson, Blake Ross, Stacie Dinning, Sarah Kessler, Shannon McLeish and Erin Jones 

Art by:
Gemma Allan, Alice Simpson, Blake Ross, Stacie Dinning, Sarah Kessler, Shannon McLeish and Erin Jones

Game design by:
Gemma Allan, Alice Simpson, Blake Ross, Stacie Dinning, Sarah Kessler, Shannon McLeish, Erin Jones, Amelie Anderson-Quigley and Dylan Stevens

Additional art, animation, sound design, music, game design and creative direction by Tinderbox Collective and associated artists:
Prolly Edible, Dominika Jackowska, Matthew Tulloch, and Luci Holland

Special thanks to our partners National Galleries of Scotland & Impact Arts, and the leaders of their Creative Futures CourseVal Cannon and Val Knox, attended by the young artists listed above. Thanks also to Rebecca Fitzgerald and Iona Cameron for supporting the young people to develop their work.

National Galleries

Impact Arts

Tinderbox Collective

Testing Game Embed/Widget