Tag Archives: play

Playing with the Past, Part One: How Play Relates to Cultural Heritage

So, in trying to peel the onion of gamification, I’ve rattled on at great length about research on gamesgamification, games, play, and fun. But how is this applicable to the work of cultural heritage interpretation?  Firstly, I’d say that, if nothing else, laying to rest the idea that gamification is, in and of itself, worthwhile strategy is doing us all a favor. Gameful design, game theory, and game development processes? All worthwhile to explore and learn from. And, I think, an as-yet-untapped avenue for really fruitful collaboration. But in order to be fruitful, it has to start for an acknowledgement and honoring of the intrinsic motivation that visitors and players share. As Edward Deci wrote in “Why We Do What We Do”, “Self-motivation, rather than external motivation, is at the heart of creativity, responsibility, healthy behavior, and lasting change.” Intrinsic motivation drives the vast majority of our visitors, not external rewards. There’s a reason it’s called “free choice” learning. This point is lost on many in the field who seem determined to turn a visit into a competition, a frequent flyer program, or FarmVille.

Before we go further into what those avenues of collaboration might look like, I want to spend a little time looking at some of the qualities of heritage experiences that I have experienced to be particularly germane to this discussion.

A good cultural heritage experience is rooted in its physicality

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The Roman fort at Vindolanda by Flickr user Edmund Gall. CC BY-SA 2.0

I’m going to go out on a limb and state that the vast majority of cultural heritage sites are physical spaces in a built environment. Everything we do, even digital projects around heritage, are rooted in that physicality, whether we acknowledge it or not.  As I’ve said before, our physical spaces themselves are powerful affective tools.  Just the fact that there is a huge building dedicated to (art, history, science and technology, etc…) makes a powerful statement. And for heritage sites, that specific connection between past and present; “Something happened HERE” is paramount. Even the absence of something is a presence in heritage sites “Once, this empty field was a Roman fortress!”

A good cultural heritage experience is rooted in its physicality (but not entirely contained within it)

Often, this physicality can be overplayed to the point that the objects become the focus, and not how they can be tools for people to better themselves.

Let’s play another game.

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Priceless historic artifact! by Flickr user Vincenzo De Geronimo CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Let’s pretend this unmarked, Viking sword is the prize object of an Icelandic museum because it is the sword that Erik the Red used to kill Thorgest’s sons, setting into motion the train of events that led to his banishment from Iceland and the discovery of Greenland. Having been passed down through generations and centuries, it is a concrete link to the sagas, to the story of both Iceland and Greenland and so much more. What kind of experiences could you design to “bring the object to life”?

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Just another object. by Flickr user Vincenzo De Geronimo. CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Now let’s imagine I’m a comic book super villain (Mwahahaha!) of the Lex Luthor type, prone to incredibly devious and over-the-top plots. I take it into my head to rob this object of it’s value for reasons known only to me. In great secrecy, I destroy every record of this sword and its story. I kill every person who knew the story of the sword until it is completely robbed of it’s metadata/provenance/whatever-you-want-to-call-it. It is still the exact same sword. Without ever touching it, or even seeing it, I can transform it from a powerful, meaning-laden object, to a thing. Granted, it is a thing that would be amenable to physical study. It could be dated both stylistically and absolutely, it’s composition could provide hints as to where it was forged. The fact that it is in Iceland could also hint at its history. But it’s power to be a focus for storytelling and emotion would largely be gone. Because the narrative and all the facts and associations around the object, do not in fact have any physical connection to the object. They exist in another dimension, and focusing too much on the object can make it hard to see them.

A good cultural heritage experience is visitor-focused

Hopefully this isn’t news to anybody. The museum field certainly still has a long way to go to live up to this statement, but I think we at least all give the idea name service at the very least. My all time favorite story of the power of this involved a trip long ago to Plimoth Plantation with a group of Soviet rocket scientists. Trying to explain the whole concept of first person historical interpretation was an uphill battle, but we gamely trudged around the village, talking to the English settlers through their interpreter. The whole idea that the interpreters were living in 1627 and wouldn’t break character was completely foreign to our guests, and the field trip was starting to feel like a forced march, until we ran into one of the more educated colonists. When he asked where the Soviets came from (after failing to comprehend what they meant when they said they were from the Soviet Union) someone said they were from Moscow. “Ah, Muscovy! You are far from home!” he exclaimed, and then proceeded to grill them on the political situation in early-seventeenth century Russia, whether the False Demetrius was still tsar (he wasn’t), and how the war against the Poles was going. Watching a bunch of college-educated Soviet scientists and engineers trying to dredge up their Russian history from grade school was a sight. But once they connected the dots and jointly remembered who False Dmitry was, their interest level went way up. This interpreter had managed to engage the seemingly unengagable and transformed their visit into something they could relate to. It’s what cultural heritage professionals do all the time.

More recently, the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia has ditched their audioguides in favor of highly-trained human facilitators armed with iPads. Their Art Team aims to deepen visitors’ interaction with the art. Human guides, who can read body language and tone, atre much better at tailoring their interpretation to their audience than any device. Says, Shelley Bernstein, the Barnes’ CXO,

“You begin with the most meaningful thing first,” Bernstein said, alluding to engagement efforts. “So this is what we call the human-interaction layer. It’s not about technology. It’s not about providing people with a thing or device. It’s thinking about what human interaction should be in the galleries and what we want that to be and trying to get that right before layering in other things.”

A good cultural heritage experience is emotional

I am a great fan of the word “visitor”, because it acknowledges that people who come to heritage sites are on a journey and they will enter our sphere of influence and leave it again. Since beginning this exploration of games and play and heritage, I’ve come to recognize how analogous the heritage visit is the idea of entering the magic circle of a game. People come, and they take on a new role; they become “visitors” (or whatever you call them) while they are there, and they leave, hopefully changed by the experience. My experience is that the role of “visitor” often entails an increased openness to emotion. Visitors might not know what they’re going to feel during their visit, but the hope that they’ll feel something is there in the background. Awe, wonder, delight, surprise, sorrow, pride are potential outcomes of a successful heritage that are no less valuable than increased knowledge.

When I think back on museum experiences that have really stayed with me, their common thread was emotion; they made me feel something I didn’t feel when I entered. Informal education is a great forum for affective learning; formal education can do a much better job at cognitive learning. If you want “just the facts”, then go to Wikipedia, or a textbook. Nobody ever got a degree from going to a museum or cultural heritage site, nor should they.  A visit to a heritage site will never cover as much history as even an intro history textbook, but that book will never provide a visceral, affective experience with the past to a broad audience.

A good cultural heritage experience is scaffolded

I’ve previously mentioned the Tenement Museum’s “How to visit the Museum” guide. The fact that they are only open for tours, and not the kind of drop visiting that the name “museum” implies, makes them a good example of how to address head on a common headache for visitors; namely how to make use of the site in an appropriate manner, and know they’re doing it. For most museums and sites, this begins and ends with a map that will describe spaces in some level of detail. The good people at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C. Have been wrestling with orientation and accessibility issues and blogging about their investigations in a particularly fearless way that I hope others will adopt. I would also add the Cooper Hewitt’s primer on how to parse a tombstone label.

Since coming to work in an art museum, I have been struck with how passionate people can be about how to do it “correctly.” I’ve written about my own evolution as a viewer of art objects, and it’s been transformative to learn that “visiting” is a skill that can be exercised and improved. Providing that same kind of scaffold for visitors who haven’t had twenty-plus years of museum work to help them is something I long to explore more. I have dreamed of making an orientation space that would explicitly instruct visitors how to approach works of art, what is encouraged and what isn’t, and what the staff do when they interact with the stuff they steward.

A good cultural heritage experience is playful

The other answer to the question I posed at the beginning of this post “How is this applicable to the work of cultural heritage interpretation?” is that I believe our efforts are best focused on be better better at letting visitors play with our creations. Games get a lot of attention in the media, and have become a gigantic industry, but the part of “game playing” that is most relevant to us is the “playing” not the “game”. Play is an important entry point for folks of all ages into any subject matter. It is a crucial element to engage the interest of the non-specialist public in heritage (and most other subjects).  While we may know this intellectually, it’s still hard to get past the received understanding that play is non-productive and unserious. But we are getting there, and pursuing that further will be really interesting work!

Peeling the Onion, Part Three: Play

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LEGO Minecraft by Flickr user Lego Photo mureut. CC BY-ND 2.0

“Play” is a very big idea.

Game playing is a very engaging activity, one that evokes a level of commitment and concentration in players that is not seen in most visitors to museums. So a lot of attention has been given to looking at ways to make heritage experiences more gemlike or gamified. I’ve already talked about gamification and the characteristics of games, [link] and now want to get underneath the surface of both to talk about what people do in games; namely they play. There is an important distinction between playing and gaming as activities and then toys and games as objects that support these activities.

So what is play? Coincidentally, it’s question we’ve been asking at PEM for the past couple of years, as we’ve developed the PlayTime exhibition.

Playing is an activity and a mindset that for it’s own reasons experiments with recombinations of actions, meanings, and objects in ways that the psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi calls autotelic. Autotelic people are intrinsically motivated, and exhibit a sense of purpose and curiosity. Autotelic is the opposite of being extrinsically motivated, by things like money, power, fame, etc… When we try out new combinations of thoughts or words, or new combinations of Lego bricks, we are playing. Done properly, play can be a powerful affective teacher, and an integral part of that are what Csikszentmihályi calls “flow experiences”; a feeling of complete absorption in the task at hand, when one loses all sense of time and place, and feels that their ability and the challenge in front of them are well-matched. Flow can be a result of play or gameplay, though Csikszentmihalyi later warns that “Playfulness, or flow, is not limited by the form of the activity, although it is affected by it.“

Playing does not require games

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“Playing” by Flickr user mejuan. CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

For game designers like Eric Zimmerman, games are a more formalized subset of play. If two people are throwing a ball back and forth to each other, they’re playing with it; interacting with each other, and with the ball, and with their bodies, and gravity, hand-eye coordination. But, if one of them says, let’s make this a contest – who can throw the ball farther, or how many times can we throw it back and forth before we drop it?” they have formalized that play activity into a game.  Salen and Zimmerman write about this disconnect between games and play in their seminal book “The Rules of Play” “The goal of successful game design is meaningful play, but play is something that emerges from the functioning of the rules. As a game designer, you can never directly design play. You can only design the rules that give rise to it. Game designers create experience, but only indirectly.” To me, this sounds very much like constructivist experience design. You can make the place and the space in which visitors can experience culture, but always at a distance, because the learning and appreciation and interaction happens only when people are there.

Games can involve play

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Playing a game of bowling by Flickr user Oscar D Salazar V. CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

But games ≠ play

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Not playing. Developers at work testing Team Fortress 2 Goldrush by Flickr user Tim Dorr CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Play has larger meanings, too. There’s the idea of playing a musical instrument. You can play a part or a role.  There’s the play of a set of gears, or the play in a steering wheel. All these have in common the feature that within a system there’s some give, some sloppiness that doesn’t break the system. These interstitial moments of freedom within the system when you’re not doing what the system is meant to do in a utilitarian sense, is the essence of play. It’s not productive, it’s completely autotelic to wiggle the steering wheel for the heck of it and enjoy it.  This is the kind of play that opens up new spaces for creativity and innovation. This play can describe everything from stylistic innovation to political protest. As Trevor Smith, the curator of the PlayTime exhibition writes in his manifesto for the project:

PLAY spurs productivity.
PLAY is a catalyst for creativity.
PLAY is an escape from conformity.
PLAY reinvents the rules.
PLAY empowers the players.
PLAY stimulates innovation.
PLAY enables exploration.
PLAY is a response to uncertainty.
PLAY rewards misbehavior.
PLAY negotiates conflict.
PLAY resists productivity.

Perhaps the best exploration of play, playfulness, games and gamification I’ve come across is Jaakko Stenros’ 2015 PhD dissertation “Playfulness, Play, and Games: A Constructionist Ludology Approach”.  If you’ve any interest in any of these subjects, I recommend this work wholeheartedly. It’s masterful and complete. In his chapter on Play, he concludes that,

“The core of play, the part that most conceptualisations agree upon, can be called playful play. It is voluntary and positive for all participants, and there is a relative uniform understanding amongst participants as to what they are doing together. It does not overly challenge contextual social or cultural norms, at least not in a way that makes anyone uncomfortable. Such play is engaged in by children and particularly playful adults (like artists).”

– Stenros 2015

What we know about play, fun, and learning

So the voluntary and positive experience of play is what underlies the commitment and passion we see players brings to games, and those elements of game mechanics that might foster that experience are what get offered up as gamification. The activity people in engage in; play, is enjoyable, positive, fulfilling. But “fun” in cultural heritage is the great unspoken term, not unlike the way Karl Marx’s work was foundational to so much of 20th century Western social science, yet rarely cited during any research published during the Cold War.

Behind all the talk of engagement, positive experience, enjoyment, and a host of other serious sounding terms is the idea of fun. And that’s really what we’re after, isn’t it? We want to create experiences that people will enjoy, that will grab their attention and hold it, while challenging them sufficiently to allow them to feel a sense of accomplishment when they’re done, and to have exercised and improved an ability of theirs. The essence of informal learning for me is this intersection between play, fun, and learning. It draws on all the things we’ve looked at in gaming and gamification. It requires the attention of the persons involved in a way that can promote flow, though Csikszentmihalyi distinguishes between flow and playfulness.

“Flow describes a process of involvement in a given reality, while playfulness refers to one’s attitude towards the reality in which one is involved. One can experience flow in a routine activity whose goals and rules are consistent with the paramount reality; in such a case there would be flow without playfulness. Or one could shift one’s perspective on what goals and rules applied in a situation, without experiencing the intense involvement that characterizes flow.”

It is not too easy. Mitch Resnick from MIT further stresses the requirement that fun needs to be challenging in his essay “Computer as Paintbrush: Technology, play, and the creative society.

“…Too often, designers and educators try to make things “easy” for learners, thinking that people are attracted to things that are easy to do. But that is not the case. Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihályi has found that people become most deeply engaged in activities that are challenging, but not overwhelming.  Similarly, Seymour Papert has found that learners become deeply engaged by “hard fun”—in other words, learners don’t mind activities that are hard as long as the activities connect deeply with their interests and passions.”

This is most fully developed in Papert’s notion of “hard fun”. Seymour Papert is one of those polymaths who make me feel like the human race might actually evolve into something better. After two PhDs in Mathematics, studying education under Piaget, and directing the study of artificial intelligence at MIT with Marvin Minsky, he became one of the great scholars of education. The way his interests combined and recombined over and over throughout his life is supremely inspirational. The impact Papert and his students like Resnick have had on education is hard to overstate. As Papert wrote in a newspaper article called “Hard Fun”,

“…everyone likes hard challenging things to do. But they have to be the right things matched to the individual and to the culture of the times. These rapidly changing times challenge educators to find areas of work that are hard in the right way: they must connect with the kids and also with the areas of knowledge, skills and (don’t let us forget) ethic adults will need for the future world.”

And just because I can’t help it, I’ll point out that all ideas relate very closely to Nietzsche’s definition of happiness as, “The feeling that power is growing, that resistance is overcome.” This idea of hard fun is well understood by the game industry, and one of the keys behind all great games is hard fun, or what Nicole Lazarro defines with the Italian word “Fiero”, the feeling of personal triumph over adversity.  Her “4 Keys 2 Fun diagram shows how deeply one can try to disambiguate the elements of fun.

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Lazzaro’s “4Keys2Fun” from XEODesign, Inc.

Next, we’ll look at what, if anything, this can mean for designers of cultural heritage experiences.

Peeling the Onion, Part Two: Games

What is a game?

A theme of this current research has been the continuing revelation that things I thought were simple, like “game” and “play” are really not. So, if gamification is not the way to successfully engage audiences, then what is it about games that makes us interested in them? I would argue that the appeal for the cultural heritage sector is the way that games capture the attention of their players; the effort that game players invest in playing.

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Players concentrating by Flickr user sharyn morrow. CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0

The Latin word for game is ludus, which means two things, as readers of Ready Player One will have already discovered. It can mean “game” and it can also mean “school.” So this notion of playing games and learning being somehow connected is an old one.

Looking at the definitions scholars have tried to wrap around games is instructive. Here are four of my favorites;

“… a free activity standing quite consciously outside ”ordinary” life as being ”not serious”, but at the same time absorbing the player intensely and utterly. It is an activity connected with no material interest, and no profit can be gained by it. It proceeds within its own proper boundaries of time and space according to fixed rules and in an orderly manner. It promotes the formation of social groupings which tend to surround themselves with secrecy and to stress their difference from the common world by disguise or other means.”

– Johan Huizinga 1950

“… an activity which is essentially: Free (voluntary), separate [in time and space], uncertain, unproductive, governed by rules, make-believe.”

– Roger Caillois 1961

“A game is a rule-based formal system with a variable and quantifiable outcome, where different outcomes are assigned different values, the player exerts effort in order to influence the outcome, the player feels attached to the outcome, and the consequences of the activity are optional and negotiable.”

– Jesper Juul 2003

“A game is a system in which players engage in an artificial conflict, defined by rules, that results in a quantifiable outcome.”

– Katie Salen & Eric Zimmerman 2004

Juul’s six characteristics of games

Jesper Juul is one of the most influential game theorists active today. His latest work, The Art of Failure: An Essay on the Pain of Playing Video Games is pretty wild stuff. In his 2003 essay, The Game, The Player, The World, he took all the definitions of games out there and tried to distill their common elements. What he came up was the following six characteristics of games.

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Rulebooks by Flickr user Ben Ward CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

  1. Rules: Games are rule-based.
    There is a set of guidelines that tell you when you’re doing it right, and there’s an external way of adjudicating disputes.
  2. There are variable, quantifiable outcomes:
    It’s not a sure thing and there is not only one way to play.
  3. There are values assigned to possible outcomes:
    You can win, lose, or come somewhere in the middle, and it’s clear which one you’re striving to achieve.
  4. Player effort is required:
    Games that aren’t challenging, aren’t fun. Try Progress Wars or Universal Paperclip for examples. Games that are challenging can be very powerful. Iyadurai et al’s 2017 study of emergency room patients who’d recently suffered trauma found that playing Tetris in the emergency room significantly reduced the occurrence of disturbing flashbacks of their recent trauma, because of the demands the game placed on the player.
  5. Player is attached to the outcome:
    It’s no fun to play a game with someone who doesn’t care whether they win or lose. We decide as players to value some outcomes over others.
  6. There are negotiable consequences:
    After the game is over, the players go back to their previous states without any repercussions for their performance during the game.

To this list, I’d add a seventh:

7. There are positive and/or negative feedback systems built into the rules

One big difference between American style board games like Monopoly, and the newer German style games like Settlers of Catan, is their feedback systems. Monopoly has a very positive feedback system; make money, and it gets easier to make even more money. In Settlers, features like the robber serve to inhibit the power of the leading player and level the playing field. Positive feedback systems increase instability, where negative feedback systems increase stability.

Do the rules apply to heritage?

So let’s play a game. If we change the word “player” to visitor and “game to “heritage experience”, what do we get?

1) Rules: Games Heritage experiences are rule-based.

There is a set of guidelines that tell you when you’re doing it right, and there’s an external way of adjudicating disputes.

Aside from telling you what not to do, certainly most museum experiences give you very little guidance about whether you’re doing it right. Maybe there’s a map with names of spaces on it. Maybe there’s a tour you can follow. But by and large there’s nothing to tell you how to “do” it right. The Tenement Museum is a noteworthy exception. For museums that display contemporary art, this is a perennial concern, where there is abundant research to show that visitors feel ill-equipped to experience the art, and are certain “they’re doing it wrong.” When you’re having trouble in a game, you can look at the rules. What can you do if you feel lost in the middle of a visit?

What would the “rules” for your museum or heritage site look like?

2) There are variable, quantifiable outcomes:

It’s not a sure thing and there is not only one way to play.

One of the hardest things to get across to non-museum creatives is how different the expectations aer for a “successful” visit, than for other kinds of experiences. If you opened a book in the middle, read a few pages, flipped around to look at all the pictures, read the title, and then the final paragraph, that probably wouldn’t count as having “read the book” for most people. But two people can enter a museum exhibition, follow completely non-intersecting paths, look at different objects, and still come out the back end feeling like they “saw the show”.

3) There are values assigned to possible outcomes:

You can win, lose, or come somewhere in the middle, and it’s clear which one you’re striving to achieve.

Frank Oppenheimer’s quote that “Nobody ever flunked a science museum.” is relevant here. If nobody ever flunks, though, does that mean nobody ever gets an “A” at museum?

Are there multiple ways to visit your site? If so, is one better than the others?

4) Player Visitor effort is required:

Games Experiences that aren’t challenging, aren’t fun.

Papert’s idea of “hard fun”, which corresponds neatly to Lazarro’s definition of “fiero” in game theory, is a linchpin of informal education. Making experiences challenging enough without being too hard is the holy grail of exhibition development.

5) Player Visitor is attached to the outcome:

It’s no fun to play a game heritage experience with someone who doesn’t care whether they win or lose. We decide as players visitors to value some outcomes over others.

Now there’s an interesting one. Do you attach value to a particular outcome, or go hoping to experience something meaningful?

6) There are negotiable consequences:

After the game heritage experience is over, the players go back to their previous states without any repercussions for their performance during the game.

In my experience in museums, “transformation” was the desired outcome, that visitors leave change by the experience.

7) There are positive and/or negative feedback systems built into the rules

Positive feedback systems increase instability, where negative feedback systems increase stability.

Are there feedback systems that attempt to regulate the heritage experience? I’ve certainly encountered exhibitions and websites that attempt to provide positive feedback systems like “You’re interested in _______? Here are more examples of ________!”

What does this mean for heritage professionals?

A lot of these characteristics can be applied to cultural heritage experiences. For most cultural heritage professionals who look at games and gamification for help, I think the thing they covet most are Rules 4 and 5; Players who want to play and win, and who will devote remarkable amounts of time, energy, and effort to the game.

As an example, here are the stats on the costliest war in computer game history. The Massively Multiplayer Online Game EVE Online, boasts around 500,000 players who populate a science fiction galaxy called New Eden. In New Eden, players can explore, build, and come together in communities for mutual aid and protection. This had led to factions fighting over control of swaths of space, sometimes at huge scales. In the 2014 Battle of B-R5RB, two alliances with ~7,000 players fought for control of a strategic system in a battle that lasted 22 hours. At the end of the battle, more than 20 million soldiers had been killed and over 600 warships worth a combined USD$300,000 had been destroyed. January 2018’s Battle of 9-4RP2 was predicted to be three times as costly, but server issues intervened, causing the battle to never escalate to the level predicted.

But why is it enjoyable? The fact is that the game itself is not; it is the act of playing the game that is. So our search has to go deeper and look into playing.

Playing with Cultural Heritage: references

Introduction

My interest in play, games, and cultural heritage is longstanding. Longtime readers of this blog will remember a series of posts I wrote about gamification and my discomfort with the way it is applied to museum experiences. More recently, Peabody Essex Museum has been developing the PlayTime exhibition, an exploration of the role of play in contemporary art.

Working on that has provided amazing opportunities to meet game developers, theorists, and experience designers of all stripes. I wrote an article for the UX Blog called Being Teachable that detailed some of the learnings I took away from attending Alibis for Interaction in Malmö and Clash of Realities 2016 in Köln. The companion digital publication for PlayTime contains dozens of essays, interviews, videos, and games that expand on the themes of the exhibition.

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Screenshot of the PlayTime publication landing page.

Gamification and Iceland

It is therefore really exciting to have been invited to give the keynote at a seminar next month in Reykjavik called “Let’s Play With Heritage – Seminar & Think Tank on Gamification and Heritage”. It is part of the Connected Culture and Natural Heritage in a Northern Environment (CINE) project, a collaborative digital heritage project between 9 partners and 10 associated partners from Norway, Iceland, Ireland, Northern Ireland and Scotland. CINE aims to transform people’s experiences of outdoor heritage sites through technology, building on the idea of “museums without walls”.

CINE map

CINE partner map

A really interesting project, and a whole new group of colleagues to meet!

My talk, “The Future of Playing with the Past: New Opportunities in Interpreting Cultural Heritage” will draw on examples from across the cultural heritage sector to explore what online games, live action role play, and immersive theater have to offer heritage professionals looking to engage 21st century audiences.

In the course of working on my slides, I’ve been re-reading older works, and reading everything new I can get my hands on that touches on the subjects. This post will be the repository for the raw materials for the talk. If you’re interested in gaming, play, and museums, you might some useful links. If you have any that I haven’t listed here, let me know! Ditto for examples of useful cultural heritage experiences that are play-based, gameful, or even…gamified.


My posts on games, play, and gamification

What can museums learn about immersive theater?

On immersion, theatre, and museums

Australia: Game Masters review and DAM: Melbourne

Reviews: museum game apps

Gaming the museum – separating fad from function – Part four of four!

Gaming the museum – separating fad from function – Part three of ?

Gaming the museum – separating fad from function – Part two of ?

Gaming the museum – separating fad from function – Part one of ?


Case studies

National Museum of Finland Offers Virtual Time Travel

Visitors can step into the world of Finland in 1863 with the power of virtual reality. With the opening of the new VR exhibit, visitors to the museum will be able to step back in time to the year 1863 by donning a VR headset and walking inside R. W. Ekman’s painting ‘The Opening of he Diet 1863 by Alexander II’.

Discovery Tour by Assassin’s Creed: Ancient Egypt Q&A

Discovery Tour by Assassin’s Creed: Ancient Egypt as a free title update for Assassin’s Creed Origins. The Discovery Tour is an educational experience that allows players to free-roam Ancient Egypt to learn more about its history. We sat down with the developers of this unique experience to answer frequently asked questions.

Gamifying the Museum with NYU Game Center Graduate Students

This Spring, the American Museum of Natural History and the NYU Game Center partnered to create a classroom-in-residence at the Museum for a course entitled “Designing for Museums.”

Kingdom Come: Deliverance review in progress: This realistic Skyrim rival is a true role-playing game

Kingdom Come: Deliverance is essentially an Elder Scrolls-style RPG made “realistic.” Abandoning the fantasy lands of most sword-and-board stories, Kingdom Come instead builds a tale around Bohemia, the region of modern-day Czech Republic and, as of the 1400s, the Kingdom within the Holy Roman Empire.

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Screenshot from Kingdom Come. You’ll get a healthy does of 15th century European history.

What am I missing…?


References

Bogost, I. (2011). Persuasive Games: Exploitationware. Retrieved from https://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/134735/persuasive_games_exploitationware.php

Brumann, C. (2014). Heritage agnosticism: A third path for the study of cultural heritage. Social Anthropology, 22(2), 173–188. 

Bujari, A., Ciman, M., Gaggi, O., & Palazzi, C. E. (2017). Using gamification to discover cultural heritage locations from geo-tagged photos. Personal and Ubiquitous Computing, 21(2), 235–252. 

Deterding, S. (2017). Outside the Box: Toward an Ecology of Gaming Enjoyment. Retrieved from https://www.slideshare.net/dings/outside-the-box-toward-an-ecology-of-gaming-enjoyment

Deterding, S. (2017). Alibis for Adult Play: A Goffmanian Account of Escaping Embarrassment in Adult Play. Games and Culture, 1–20. 

Deterding, S. (2010). Pawned. Gamification and its Discontents. In Playful 2010. Retrieved from http://www.slideshare.net/dings/pawned-gamification-and-its-discontents

Deterding, S. (2011). Meaningful Play. Getting “Gamification” Right. In Google Tech Talk, January 24, 2011. Retrieved from http://www.slideshare.net/dings/meaningful-play-getting-gamification-right

Deterding, S. (2011). Don’t Play Games With Me! Promises and Pitfalls of Gameful Design. In webdirections @media, London, May 27, 2011. Retrieved from http://www.slideshare.net/dings/dont-play-games-with-me-promises-and-pitfalls-of-gameful-design

Findlay, K., & Alberts, K. (2011). Gamification: What It Is and What It’s Not. In ESOMAR 2011, Amsterdam. Amsterdam.

Flagg, B. N., & Holland, I. (2013). Summative Evaluation of PlanetMania Mobile App in Maryland Science Center’ s Life Beyond Earth Exhibit

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Travels in November

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Contrails. CC BY-SA 3.0 image by Wikimedia Commons user Cp9asngf

November is going to be action packed! I’m not really ready for it, but c’est la vie. I’ll be doing a whirlwind tour of North America and Europe, going to three different conferences, and finally, finally, finally going to see the Louisiana Museum and learning more about how the amazing Louisiana Channel runs.

Oct 31-Nov 4,New Orleans
Museum Computer Network Conference 2016
http://conference.mcn.edu/2016/attend.cfm

This year, Bruce Wyman, Kate Haley Goldman, and I are repeating our “Experiencing the Visitor Experience” workshop on the 1st.  The inimitable Suse Cairns and I are also hosting an informal book club to discuss “Post-Critical Museology”. Time and place TBD, so check Twitter for updates. Other than that, I’m free as a bird and looking forward to attending sessions!

Nov 10, Copenhagen
Louisiana Museum
http://www.louisiana.dk/

I’m visiting the Louisiana Museum and talk to the folks at the Louisiana Channel before heading across the bridge to Malmö attend Alibis for Interaction.

Nov 11, Malmö
Alibis for Interaction 2016
http://www.alibisforinteraction.se/

Nordic LARPing anyone? Alibis for Interaction is a one-day masterclass on the craft of designing human interaction, participation and narrative experiences. Because participation can be hard. Talking to strangers is hard. Receiving attention is hard. Doing new things is hard, Even when whatever you’re being invited to do looks fun or really important issue. I’ll be doing research for a potential exhibition on play and contemporary art, and shooting some run-n-gun interviews.

Nov 12-13
Up in the air. There’s tons to see in Copenhagen. Suggestions?

Nov 13-16, Köln
Clash of Realities 2016
http://www.clashofrealities.com/2016/

At Clash of Realities, experts from the academy, science and research, economics, politics and the game industry will discuss pressing questions concerning the artistic design, technological development, and social perception of digital games, as well as the spreading of games literacy. I’ll be doing more research for a potential exhibition on play and contemporary art, and shooting more formal interviews with our intrepid videographer, Mr. Chip Van Dyke.

So if you’re in New Orleans, Copenhagen, Malmö, or Köln, hit me up and we’ll have coffee or a drink! DMing me on Twitter is probably the safest bet, email also works.