It's a tiny island just three miles long and permanent home to only 120 or so, but it holds an iconic place in Scotland's history now to be conveyed through the medium of a video game.

The story of Iona, 'the cradle of Christianity in Scotland', will be brought to life for school children around the world through an interactive free video game, complete with a ‘spooky’ monk figure. It has been developed by Aberdeen University in collaboration with a commercial offshoot of Abertay University.

Although Iona was already populated, its fame began in 563 AD when Columba, a prince with 13 followers from Ireland, landed at the south end of the island. They were to establish a monastery, a Celtic church and the island's historical significance worldwide. Some 48 Scottish, eight Norwegian and four Irish kings are buried there.

It continues to this day to be revered as a holy place with a special atmosphere, a centre for pilgrimage.

Not somewhere one would immediately associate with the gaming world of 'Grand Theft Auto' and 'Call of Duty Black Ops'.

But Aberdeen University's School of Education was given the task by the Iona Cathedral Trust, of conveying the island’s sense of "mystery, wonder and richness’" to audiences and new generations around the world.

Project leader Dr David Smith, a Lecturer in Education at the university, explained "The Scottish Curriculum for Excellence places a particular emphasis on Scotland’s cultural heritage and identity, something which makes Iona a rich focus area.

“But part of what makes Iona special is its unique atmosphere and we wanted pupils to be able to really experience this and interact with what they were seeing. We concluded that the best way to immerse them in the ‘Iona experience’ was to create a video game, built on sound educational principles, so we collaborated with a spin-out company from Abertay University, Hyper Luminal Games Ltd.The result is an innovative and free game-based learning experience for upper Primary and lower Secondary learners.”

The game 'Tales of Iona', is led by the ‘spooky’ monk who guides gamers through learning challenges set against a backdrop featuring many of Iona’s landmarks, such as Iona Abbey and its library. It was one of the most important libraries in Western Europe, but was largely abandoned after a series of Viking raids. This was where monks are thought to have begun to write and illustrate the Book of Kells, now on permanent display in Trinity College Dublin.

Dr Smith continued: “Tales of Iona incorporates both puzzles to improve players’ thinking skills and key information about the history and heritage of Iona, which is embedded in the game’s narrative.

“We realised at an early stage of the project that Iona’s story could not be placed in pigeon holes or neat curriculum areas, or restricted to Religious and Moral Education alone. Rather, there were meaningful connections that could be made across the curriculum, for example in Expressive Arts, through illuminated manuscripts, through to Modern Studies, which could be seen in Iona’s stories of nuclear disarmament and community-based explorations of social justice.”

It was launched today as part of Aberdeen University's 2016 May Festival on Thursday May 26 in the schools and children’s programme.

The response from pupils at Aberdeen Grammar School who tested the game proved positive. Blair McGinigal, a second year pupil said: “I learnt a lot from the puzzles and the story. The game became more enjoyable and believable as it was slightly eery and creepy at points. I feel that the game is exceptionally good and I enjoyed it very much.”