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Museums, Games & PlaySummit


Crack the fun code of the Museum

In Louvre Abu Dhabi Children’s Museum, we designed our last exhibition “Emotions!” as an Art Adventure Game, to generate active engagement and create an optimal museum experience for the whole family. In this presentation, we will tell you how we are using gamification and play to generate active engagement and make the museum a fun place to be. With concrete examples, we will demonstrate how smart storytelling and game design principles can guide children in their discovery of original artworks and help keep the audience connected with the content.

What museums can learn from children

From consultation visits to American children’s museums, to designing an interactive gallery space with children, through a training course with Playful Partners and Kids in Museums, culminating in zestful play delivery with the Royal Academy of Arts in 2021, we have been exploring just how much children have to offer the world of galleries and museums. PennyWilson and Lily McGuire will share the stories of their experiences of children enriching and transforming the use and content of museum spaces and the people who work in them.

Becoming a playing museum – for both audience and staff

Since 2018 the National Museum of Denmark has been experimenting with new ways to engage audiences through play experiences to stimulate curiosity and reflectivity towards the cultural history unfolding when engaging with the objects of the museum. In this process a need for internally developing new methods for play experience design has become clear In this talk, we will present our newly established PlayLab and the iterative process of attempting to design experiences where play is the leading principle for both audience experiences and design processes. We will present our learnings – wins as well as failures and invite for dialogue.

Embracing play(fulness) for successful family engagement

Imagine: tyres, carpet tubes, sledges, balls, crates, hoops, bells, headlights, pumps, tape, rope, tins, blocks, fabrics, steering wheels, and many more loose parts played with, explored by, learned from by people of all ages. Now imagine this: all of the above inside museum galleries transformed into an inviting playground where families play, take over, explore, and learn with and next to your collections. Coventry Transport Museum does exactly that and we want to share our experiences of delivering and observing five years of play in our museum, including the practicalities to be considered when introducing playhem to museum galleries.

Building a Country House for Children

Imagine you’re seven. Now imagine a day out at a country house. The spaces are pretty cool – the ceiling is so far away and just look at the size of that dining table! But it doesn’t take long for the novelty to wear off. There are ropes and thistles on chairs and it’s all a bit… boring. At the Children’s Country House we’re exploring how play and games can help children engage with heritage; how working with children to design experiences can deliver great results and why it is important to put children first without exception.

Gaming Climate

How do you get people – namely college-aged people – aware of, and invested in, an ever changing climate? Easy. Make it a game. Quick note: there should be beer.

Difficult history and using games design in learning programmes

In November 2021, IWM launched a new Holocaust Learning programme developed with a leading games designer and an Oliver award winning dramaturg. At the heart of this work were philosophical questions about how the mechanics of gaming can enhance agency and empathy in museums. We asked ourselves how they can act as a platform to critically discuss some of the most difficult subjects in human history in a sensitive and accurate way, supported by a national collection. This involved challenging our own pre-conceptions about learning approaches and trying new ones that pushed boundaries and created new possibilities for audiences to connect with difficult history.

What can games teach us about museums beyond gamification?

When games are talked about in the museum space, it is often through the frame of gamification – that a museum should be like a game and the museum experience itself should be more entertaining. Games, particularly video games, have much more to teach museum professionals and visitors than just entertainment or a new design praxis for exhibitions. Games themselves are art, yes, but game practices like speedrunning are also stellar examples of community practices and engagement. Games are incredible at onboarding, while museums are often not – what can games teach us about tutorialization?

Twelve (or so) Ways of Looking at Gaming in Museums

This presentation will explore the horizons of games in museums to encourage their adoption into regular programs, products, and operations. It will solve for the equation Museums + Games = ? across a variety of lenses: accessibility; diversity, equity, and inclusion; digitization; intellectual property and licensing; the metaverse; partnerships; youth making games, staff making games; visitors playing games; producing games for the general public; eSports; educational games; games in exhibits, and more. This pair of presenters have together over a quarter-century of experience bringing digital experience design, including games, to two of the largest museums in the world: NYC’s Metropolitan Museum of Art and The American Museum of History Museum.

Playing for time: games to bring us closer to the future we want to see

Games aren’t just about engaging visitors with short attention spans or transforming galleries. They’re a way of embodying your organisation’s vision and culture – and starting to create a future in line with that. And because games necessarily require people, they’re a way of co-creating that future with visitors. This talk is a 100% biased account of how games can help us take collective action, approach the scary stuff, and pilot new approaches within safe structures. Taking in alternative Jenga, mini-golf, pervasive games and digital scenario activities, this is a whistle-stop tour of award-winning studio Fast Familiar’s playful work with museums.

Play Days

Can opportunities for play increase museum audiences engagement, drive repeat visits and improve secondary spend? Is play time in museums a nice to have add-on or can it dramatically affect your museum’s bottom line? Does play diminish the educational role museums have in our society or does play in fact result in quite the opposite, leading to retained audiences and pleasurable learning though enjoyment? We believe in the power of fun and play to draw visitors into our museum so strongly we have programmed our busiest period around it. In this presentation we will share the ideas behind our upcoming Play Days interactive exhibition and explore how a spirit of fun and play can benefit all areas of your museum from learning to retail, staff costume to catering.

Pirates, Passengers and Planet Protectors

Join the Australian National Maritime Museum to explore the role of play in creating memorable museum experiences for diverse audiences. We will examine both old and new education programs with an emphasise the importance of play, such as our award winning online games and our Pirate School experience that was described by one student as “the best day of my life besides Christmas!” We will also touch on how we utilise play with other audiences; from our youngest Mini Mariners to adults solving interactive mysteries, proving that play helps create engaging experience for anyone both onsite and online.

All Hands to Play

Explore how play prompts can open up new and exciting ways of engaging with visitors and interpreting your collections and sites. This presentation will contain real life examples, practical (and budget friendly) ideas for creating prompts and an insight into the next stage of our play journey.

Playfinding - Child-Led Wayfinding

A technology museum that spans 40 acres across two sites requires some creative wayfinding solutions. Playfinding encourages children to discover and explore the museum and exhibitions through games and play.

Telling Stories Through Roleplaying Games

Tabletop roleplaying games (TTRPGs) are a modern form of collaborative storytelling, with the most well-known example being Dungeons & Dragons. Players of these games come together under a shared set of rules to explore new worlds, problem-solve through improvised scenes, and create memorable adventures.    How can this deeply social, personal, and entertaining form of media be used by the heritage sector to better tell our stories?    Join us as we explore this question by reflecting on our project – Carved in Stone – which combines the latest archaeological research with contemporary perspectives to allow players to explore Scotland over 1,300 years ago.

Making the Past Present

EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum is a digital museum that tells the stories of people who left Ireland – from pioneers of science to those looking to escape famine. We use technology to bring history to life for our visitors and students, and one of our most popular ways of doing this is through gamification – both in our galleries and in our workshops. But is it really just all fun and games, or does getting visitors and students to interact with and build their own gaming experiences actually help to foster more engagement, understanding and empathy in regards to the stories we tell? And how can using games benefit museum visitors beyond this?

Fun for the under 5’s!

Playful Museums is a programme designed in 2016 for children under 5 years across Northern Ireland. Part of the Northern Ireland Museums Council and funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, Playful Museums is focused on the little ones in all our lives. Join in to hear about the importance of play in early development and how we can engage young children through our collections.

Is a Play Consultant the best museum job in the world?

In a recent training session about developing playful prompts with UAE museum professionals, I was told I probably had the best job in the world. I help museums to learn about play and improve how they can support children and adults to improve their social spaces to support play and playing. This presentation will be about my work with museums and cultural settings and some of the inspiring courageous professionals I’ve worked with who were prepared to try new things. I’ll talk about the highs lows, challenges, successes and failures of supporting playful change, and I will share what I’ve learned over the past 12 years and hopefully inspire viewers to accommodate and grow their capacity for supporting play in their museum, and within their future career. And then people can vote – do I have the best job in the world?!

Location-based play and the cultural sector

Immersive technologies are transforming how we interact with our world. Devices now understand where they are and what they are looking at, opening up a rich variety of new digitally-enabled experiences. Empowered by planet-scale AR platforms like Niantic Lightship, this is unlocking untold audience possibilities to enrich, entertain, and educate cultural audiences in new and enthralling ways, both on and off site. This panel discussion brings together Historic Royal Palaces, Science Museum, PRELOADED and Niantic to discuss the potential of their Lightship projects and opportunities for arts and cultural organisations created by AR and location-based play.

Serious about play: Videogames at ACMI

ACMI is Australia’s museum of screen culture, and the only cultural institution in the Australia with a curatorial and collecting focus on videogames as an artistic medium and social phenomenom. Hear from our experts as we take you through some of ACMI’s strategies in building diverse, curious and critically engaged communities through programs like Women and Non-Binary Gamers Club. We will explore approaches for creating connections between industry, the education sector and visitors through our Audience Lab program, and our learnings about the processes of curating, collecting and preserving videogames for future generations. What might a museum engaging deeply with videogames have to teach other institutions about diversity, preservation, and working directly with creators and their communities?

A Mine of Opportunities

My presentation will look at how museums have used the popular open-world video game Minecraft as a tool for outreach and education, and how they can use it for community building and engagement. Minecraft is the best-selling video game of all time, with over 238 million copies sold and nearly 140 million monthly active users as of 2021. I’ll look at early success stories and ambitious projects, such as those from the Tate Modern, the Museum of London, and even my own projects: FAMSF’s Minecraft Teotihuacan and in-progress Legion of Honor Minecraft build, and examine the challenges and successes of these projects. We’ll learn what it takes to keep these projects alive, relevant, and usable (using the Teotihuacan project as a case study, among other examples) and how museums can use them to engage visitors, reach a wider and more diverse audience, and create and nurture virtual communities.

Color Crush! Digital-physical gaming in a science museum

The Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago—the largest science center in the Western Hemisphere, was strategically pivoting to a more digital and experiential future. Alighed with that vision, its exhibit development team was envisioning a digital playground that featured games with unconventional interfaces and communal and inclusive play experiences. This talk walks through the behind-the-science stories of developing a digital-meets-physical installation, and shares valuble lessons learned from designing, prototyping, and iterating a game from scratch to buildout from the perspective of an in-house creative technologist.

Playing the Museum

Art museums are full of games. Some are hiding in plain sight waiting to be discovered. Some are waiting to be invented. We’ll explore ways of using museum data and a little bit of code to build new paths of adventure through artworks and museums.

Press Start To Continue

Videogames: For many they may bring to mind time wasting, images of teenagers staring at screens and a sad detachment from reality. As a gamer, a historian and a museum worker I want to explore how this thinking is… just wrong! Videogames are an art form, and I want to explore how museums, arts and heritage sites can use videogames to explore the collections, diversify their audiences and become more playful.

Crafthunter – The game as an interface for a permanent exhibition

Crafthunter is a brand-new playful hybrid learning experience encouraging children to explore life in the prehistoric times of Västernorrland through craftsmanship. It is situated at the heart of a newly re constructed permanent exhibition, connecting the game experience with the displayed archaeological objects, and bringing the ancient tools to life through challenges. In nine mini games the player gets to make fire, discover raw material, produce tools, weave and sow. The game is based on the assumptions of interaction and digital technology as potential tools for learning.

Failing Forward: 10 favorite Museum game Fails and what we learned from them

Four different Game Designers from the Museums and Culture space talk about games that failed to do what they intended to– and taught us all a lot about games in the process! We’ll choose ten of our favorite “unsuccessful” games and how the lessons from those games made museum game design better for all of us.