Friday, January 30, 2009
Many of you participated in the Center for the Future of Museums "Gaming the Future of Museums" webinar this week. It was one of the best I've seen- clear meeting prep, use of technology, one speaker, and she spoke to the slides so you could keep up with the chat, etc. Note: Nina Simon had a good follow-up to the ideas about happiness motivators in gaming with her post: "Should Museums be Happiness Engines?". Take a look.
This webinar was a video of Dr. Jane McGonigal, a gaming and futurist aficionado, talking about the social framework of gaming as applicable to the museum experience. She is convinced, as are others, that museums stand to benefit by applying the philosophies, social structures, and rewards embedded in multiple player ARG games, such as World of Warcraft, World Without Oil, Superstruct, to their museum experiences.
The conversation was a bit hard for some folks (myself included at times) to understand what we were be asked to try on for size. This is not a reflection of the webinar itself, but rather, my own confusion over whether we were trying to make a game on our museum floor, or were we trying to impose a different paradigm about how we think about developing exhibits and experiences?
That's the crux of it for me. It's a great idea, but it's also part of a cultural mindset. Ok, gaming provides a ready-made architecture to hang a social experience off of. That said, when I "played" Superstruct last fall, I had a hard time understanding things like: Where were the edges of the game? What was game and what was a web site describing the game? I was confused, felt kinda dumb, and in the end, decided to focus on contributing to the Wiki. Which was, btw, very rewarding.
I love the similarities I see in the cultures of the game developer and the exhibit developer worlds. I think that museums have a free 'exhibit as social experience' model there for the picking. It's just not a simple thing to put it into... play.
I'm curious to hear from others who are trying to wrap their heads around what an application might look like in their museum. Are you thinking you'd literally have a game? Are you thinking of framing part of your exhibit experience as a social experience with built-in rewards? From the chats during and post-session, I know I wasn't the only one mulling this over. Let me know your thoughts or experiences- it would be great to embrace these ideas... but perhaps we need to do it in a shared way.