Weeknotes: 7.2016 – Offering a new games workshop, VR at NHM

On February 18th, 2016, posted in: weeknotes by

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Very pleased to announce this week that we will be running a games workshop for museums on the 15 March a little way outside of Amsterdam. If you’re a Dutch museum (or not, and looking for a reason to go visit Amsterdam!) and are wondering whether games are something you should be commissioning, and how to do this effectively, this workshop is for you. It will involve a lot of play, discussion, making and testing, so it should be fun and hands on. We are running this in conjunction with Fabrique, and you can find out more details along with booking information on their site here.

If you have any questions about it, feel free to drop us a line or ask me a question on twitter. I’d be very happy to tell you anything more you might need to know.

Last week we were all go on various different projects. Alyson was pulling together a proposal for a re-do of some previous research which is interesting in terms of thinking about baseline data. Are visitors using tech differently now during their visit than they were a few years ago? Have their expectations changed?

Lindsey and I were wrapping up the first phase of our work on the Citizen Maths project for the Museum of Science and Industry and wider Science Museum Group. Now it’s time to think about how to turn the ideas into something more concrete, so we’ve been working on the next steps for that.

And I went on a bit of a cultural binge at the end of the week. I visited the Tattoo London exhibition at Museum of London, which has some really fabulous photography, and the intriguing, troubling Bill Viola “Martyrs” video installation at St Pauls (free short viewings available every weekday). Both very much worth a look.

From a museum tech point of view, the most interesting visit of the week was to the Natural History Museum to check out their virtual reality production: the Great Barrier Reef Dive with David Attenborough. It uses the Samsung Gear VR headset to take you on a journey around the reef in a submersible, escorted by Attenborough and a marine expert.

It’s great to see the museum getting stuck into this new tech, with a really convincing use case. How else can many people see this stunning coral reef up close? Being able to do that is genuinely magical. And there is a serious educational point about the damage being done to the reef which comes across strongly.

If anyone else is even remotely thinking about using VR, I would definitely go and try this. It’s clear that audience experience requires a great deal of thought; people are not necessarily familiar with how to use the technology, so they have to do a fair bit of set up work before they can start the VR experience proper. I think the tech still has a little way to go, too. It works fine without glasses (which it hasn’t always done in the past), or it least, it did for me. But the resolution is still not quite fine enough at that short distance, I felt I was watching the pixels at some points. And maybe I should have spent more time adjusting it, but the headsets are heavy and a bit uncomfortable (I was left with attractive under eye goggle marks).

Still, those negatives were fairly minor, and feel like issues that will be resolvable in the near future. It was encouraging, to be honest, to see that VR might be a technology with genuine potential for museums.

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