- 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
If you're playing on XBox then perhaps your options are limited. In the on-line PC environement things are very different, as many 14 year olds will tell you. Many PC multiplayer games - particularly FPS ones - now have editing software available for building maps and different environments to share with friends. Like social networking systems, it's the basic tools for interaction that are important, then you surrender the content to user. Museums who are interested in dabbling in this environment need to change their thinking - yet again - don't consider delivering fully formed games with predetemined outcomes. Develop the tools and see where you users take them!
I wonder how many museums sent representatives to London's Games Conference last week. According to the National Gamers Survey UK, "55 per cent of the UK population plays games on consoles and 35 per cent state they play PC games. 27 per cent of UK console players state they download levels or complete games via their console, almost all have experienced paying for this ... 19 per cent of the UK population plays games on their mobile phone. 44 per cent actually downloads new games and pays directly via their handset. The enormous reach of casual game portals – used by 32 per cent of the total UK population – is due to the fact most games are free, but 20 per cent of UK game portal players state they spend money on the portal. In the US this is even higher, at 33 per cent. Paid subscriptions are the most popular in both countries but already six per cent of all UK and US game portal players frequently buy premium games online".
If museums want to see where the trends are being set then perhaps it's time to step outside the hallowed halls.