My colleague Martha Henson and I ran a mini-workshop at this year’s Museums and the Web conference in Philadelphia. The workshop consisted partly of a summary presentation of some of our experimentation and evaluation with games at Wellcome Collection, but mostly of a workshop in which we asked people to brainstorm ideas for new museum games.
The aim was to share ideas, experience and knowledge with the (very knowledgeable and experienced) people in the room, and also to validate one of the principles on which we’ve been working: that bringing a museum theme directly together with an established method of gameplay, rather than working backwards from educational or narrative objectives, generates good ideas for engaging games.
The workshop seemed to be a success to us: A room of 60-70 people spent an hour taking and thinking, and came up with some great ideas for games. So we thought it might be worth publishing the format and materials, in case anyone else finds them useful.
The format of the brainstorming session was this:
- We asked people to cluster into groups of three to six (smaller is generally better; there were a lot of people in the room)
- We assigned them two or three ‘game type’ cards, with the name and image of a type of game (First Person Shooter, Beat ’em up, etc) one side and a brief Wikipedia definition of the game on the other.
- We asked each group to think of a collection, aspect of mission of their cultural heritage institution, and then to bring that together as the basis for a game, then to spend 15 minutes brainstorming and fleshing out that game.
- Each group then briefly presented that idea, and the rest of the workshop joined in with questions on their idea (we particularly wanted to hear from anyone who had built a game something like this themselves)
The cards we used can be downloaded here as a PDF. They’re A6, printed on A4, so each sheet contains four cards and need to be chopped. They’re two-sided, so if you print the PDF back-to-back, the image and description will come out on opposite sides of the same card.
We’d be very interested in feedback if anyone uses them for a similar exercise.
(You might also find this useful: Lift your (museum) game, a museum games wiki set up as a result of another games session at the Museums and the web conference)