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Gaming and museum visitors

By: Dr Lynda Kelly, Category: Museullaneous, Date: 11 Nov 2009

Can the principles of gaming be applied to museum program development?

Here's an interesting post about the future of gaming from Mashable. I've long been interested in the how gaming may affect the visitor experience, both in the ways that games encourage social behaviour and develops a range of skills, as well as inculcating a new generation of kids into paying small amounts for downloadable content (micropayments).

Demos (UK) did a study called Their Space: Education for a digital generation that has a chapter on gaming and Pew Internet also did a report on Teens, video games and civics.

I'm curious to see if anyone has done some work in this area about how the principles behind gaming can be (or have been) used in developing online or physical programs? I found this on Nina Simon's Museum 2.0 blog: Should museums be happiness engines? which is also a good read.

So, any thoughts?

8 comments

Lynda Kelly - 12.05 PM, 26 May 2010

Here's an interesting page (via @nancyproctor) that categorises gamers: The Bartle Test

Lynda Kelly - 10.04 AM, 25 April 2010

Thanks Jonathan for your comment and interest in this topic. Thanks also for clarifying the stats. My whole premise about gaming is that I do think you can compare the frenetic pace of multiplayer games like WoW and even Guitar Hero/Rockband to the more sedate activities like Solitaire and Tetris as they are accessing the same types of skill and strategy, as well as being inherently social. My 17 year old daughter spends lots of time playing these on Facebook rather than her laptop (or doing her homework I should add!) as Facebook  provides the vehicle for a shared, social experience as she plays against her friends in real time.

I’m seriously thinking about investigating these principles further and am meeting some interesting folks next week to move this along so will keep you posted...
jod999 - 5.04 PM, 21 April 2010
@Linda (18 Feb 2010): Thanks for the pointers. I am familiar with the Pew Internet work, but not the others. I'm surprised that anyone is saying that "...the average American kid spends 10,000 hours on games like World Of Warcraft..." 'Teens, video games and civics' pointed out that most American kids are not playing massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs) like World of Warcraft. Only one in five, in fact. Those that do are "...more likely to play games on a daily basis and more likely to play for longer periods of time", but they are not the average American kid. Virtually all American teens are playing some sort of computer or video game, but not games like WoW. It turns out that most of the bell-curve is playing racing and puzzle games. And the diversity of games that they play is enormous. The top ten games mentioned in the Pew Internet work are Guitar Hero, Halo (two versions), Madden NFL (two versions), Solitaire, Dance Dance Revolution, Tetris, Grand Theft Auto and The Sims. There is no common link between those games except that they are computer games. I can't imagine anything more different than the quiet, traditional problem solving of Solitaire or Tetris versus the speed, colour and mayhem of Grand Theft Auto or Halo, for example. They do play a lot of games and they spend a lot of time doing it. Just not on WoW and probably not the same amount of time that they spend in secondary school. In the Pew Internet survey, fifty percent said that they hadn't played a game 'yesterday'. Only three in ten said that they played a game every day. If seven out of ten aren't playing every day, I don't see how they can possibly rack up 35 hours a week of gaming. I suppose 12 - 15 hours a day on the weekend and 2 - 3 hours every day or two during the week would get you there. I'm sure that there are kids in America doing that. My nephews in Sydney might even fit that profile. But it doesn't seem to fit the profile of the _average_ American kid as described by the Pew Internet work.
Lynda Kelly - 10.02 AM, 18 February 2010

Just heard these amazing stats about US gamers at an innovation lecture: the average American kid spends 10,000 hours on games like World Of Warcraft which equals the total hours spent in school from Grades 5-12. The majority are also content creators, bloggers, develop game elements nd are publishers of media.

Lynda Kelly - 2.11 PM, 20 November 2009

Thanks Michael - I'm very interested in your work there. I do think embedding games is not only a god visitor experience but efficient too as they could be used across platforms. I think we have to be more clever about repurposing content. Museum Victoria also used game designers to make their 3D animation for their Pompeii exhibition as I understand it. Will chase up those links you posted and see you next Monday!

vaguelym - 9.11 AM, 20 November 2009
A few years back we experimented with some game based activities linked to mobiles/SMS in the form of treasure hunting: the work is Deb Polson's @ QUT. More here: http://scootgame.com/history/scoot-melbourne. Beyond that we're embedding games into our programs - but that's because it's part of our remit. A lot more of what work we have done it that field here: http://www.acmi.net.au/explore_games.htm - but it also crosses over into our education programs eg: http://www.acmi.net.au/learn_machinima_workshop.aspx
Lynda Kelly - 8.11 AM, 20 November 2009

Thanks Glenn. McLuhan also said that "Obsolescence neer meant the end of anything, it's just the beginning".  I think he was on to something!

Glenn - 1.11 PM, 18 November 2009
I'm not entirely sure that the appropriation of Maslow's hierarchy of needs motivational model into Jane's "happiness argument" offers much in the way of genuine insight into media, messages and personal learning preferences. Knowing that there is danger in cross valuing medium with message predates McLuhan. PC and console gaming sales are currently in decline (console sales for the first time in 10 years), but that might relate more to the growth in the power and diversity of alternative game and information delivery platforms e.g., cell phones and their like. Broadcast TV has been in decline for some time, thanks in part to the rise of internet and its related displacements. I think a more interesting question for museums and their ilk might be; if the specific digital delivery platform and content sources continue to matter less, how will museums be able distinguish their messages and their "brand" in a less brand-loyal, digitally promiscuous world? In this I agree with Jane; museums really shouldn't be thinking that "their" audiences are any more distinguishable from the other. Notions of a definable digital "generation" are passé; because of the cross generational take up of that technology. Digital diversity, power and its ubiquity may well contribute to an increasing public indifference to its source, perhaps in the same way earlier generations thought little of what it meant to turn on a light switch. It’s vital that museums innovate and borrow eclectically from best examples, but in doing so museums need to do this in a way that distinguishes them from the alternative providers; by better and more uniquely positioning their museum achievements. “The ignorance of how to use new knowledge stockpiles exponentially”. Marshall McLuhan

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