Focus on museums and games


Ed Rodley is an exhibit developer with over twenty years experience in all aspects of exhibition developments. He is currently working at Museum of Science in Boston and he is one of the lucky persons who transformed a passion into a profession. He publishes an extremely interesting blog: Thinking about Museums: thoughts on museums, content, design, and why they matter.

We wish to highlight his posts about gaming and museums.

First, he speaks about interactivity: when done well, interactive exhibits can engage visitors in active and prolonged learning experiences of astonishing depth and duration.

He also discusses about the qualities of a good interactive exhibit, keeping in mind that the interactivity needs to be linked both to the exhibition’s content and physical environment. Moreover, the interactive exhibit shall provoke emotional responses, encourage to play, reward visitors and respond to visitors’ actions. last but not least, it has to be visitor focused and easy to understand and use.

Then he goes on deeply into the matter of games, describing the successful characteristics for games to work  in a museum context: easy and friendly rules that players can accept to be submitted to; variable outcomes; players’ engagement; flexible outcomes and consequances.

Further, we learn about “gamification”: the process of applying game principles to non-game activities.

Finally, please enjoy a very nice overview of the most interesting (and fun) museum game apps: Race against Time by Tate Gallery, Meanderthal by Smithsonian, Eduweb’s augmented reality app MoonWalking, LaunchBall by Museum of Science in Boston.

Ed Rodley

And he closes such a wide journey by replying to a big question:

So what can these games teach us?

As I said in my previous app review, trying to synthesize learning from such disparate experiences is a challenge, but there are some things that rise up when I look at these games.

Good games are fun.
Seems like a no-brainer, but as you know, so many “educational” games are educational first and games second (if at all). They’re really gamified (ack) interactives, and they usually suck. If it’s going to be a game, it has to be a game first.

Be in for the long haul
Tate Trumps is on version 5, and has not only fixed bugs, but added major new functionalities as time has gone on. That means the business model has to be a software development model with new version releases and point releases, not a museum exhibition, “Build it and it’s done” model.

Success has costs
I doubt anyone at Science Museum could’ve predicted that Launchball would have such a long life, and morph from being a website to being a mobile app. And whatever agreement they originally had with the developers, I bet it didn’t include this contingency.

Things you can only do with a phone make more appealing apps
Almost all of these apps use the mobile platform to do things you couldn’t do any other way. Using the camera, communication functions, GPS, etc… all make the experience more compelling because it’s obvious that you could only do this with a mobile.

Learn more about Ed Rodley in his blog:


Leave a Reply

Related Articles

Murder Goes Mobile at the Met!
Through the smartphone app, Met visitors are transported back in time to 1899, where they are attending an evening gala and are shocked to learn of the murder of Virginie Gautreau–who has since been immortalized in the painting Madame X by John Singer Sargent. Thanks to the app, every visitor becomes a detective!
Tech and Art meet in Scenocosme
Presentation of two France-based artist, Gregory Lasserre and Anaïs met den Ancxt, working together under the name Scenocosme. In their works, Gregory and Anais develop the concept of interactivity by using multiple kind of expression: art, technology, sounds and architecture. They so design interactive artworks and choreographic collective performances where spectators share extraordinary sensory experiences.
Holographic projection at the Citroën flagship store
the visitors will be engaged by digital technology, with an all-new dynamic and sensory 4D cinema experience created in the Racing area, and the Citroën Social Club, a new area dedicated to social network platforms where customers and fans can virtually stay in touch. Visitors are also encouraged to express their creativity at touch kiosk where they can virtually customize the new cars, while 3D printers are on show modeling the lines of the most recent models.
Japan Media Art Festival: Dortmund 2011
A very reach program for the seventh edition of the Festival.