Weeknotes: 24.2016 – We Are Museums #wam16 and making better museum games
Last week was a bit of a repeat of the week before for my colleagues, as National Gallery, Science Museum, AMNH etc projects all continued. It’s a busy month for us! Which made it not a great time for me to be heading off to Bucharest for We Are Museums, but I’m glad I did.
Our venue for the first two days was the National Museum of Contemporary Art, housed in the staggeringly enormous Palace of the Parliament in the Romanian capital. Sadly I wasn’t able to get on one of the official tours, but the outside is impressive enough: it’s the 2nd largest administrative building in the world.
Over two days we heard from a variety of speakers, from many different countries. It was great to be at a conference with so many from France, Romania, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland and many other European countries, as it meant there were a lot of new people to meet. Most of the talks focussed on particular projects, such as Meet Vincent Van Gogh, or the upcoming Lost Palace from HRP. I’ll post more about the talks when the videos and slides are up online which should apparently be in the new few weeks.
On Tuesday afternoon, I gave a talk about making better games in museums. I’ll try to write it up fully at some point, but my basic point was this: games need to follow an iterative design process to work. You start with game mechanics, and you need to test them with people to see what happens in practice. And then revise and test, revise and test, until you have something that achieves the objectives you set out for it (to be fun, probably, but maybe also to educate, or engage on a particular subject).
The good news is that by following this process, anyone can do game design, really (I demonstrated this on the day with a round of Cat On Yer Head). However, you also need to allow time and resources to allow for this development period. Too often, this doesn’t happen, it isn’t tested properly, and the game doesn’t meet its objectives.
This is the basic outline of the workshop I ran for the British Council in Bucharest too, which was two hours of play and game design principles with folk from local museums and institutions.
So, thanks to We Are Museums for bringing me to Bucharest, and thanks for all the cake. If you go yourself, I highly recommend the Village Museum, the National Museum of Art and the stunning Caru Cu Bere.
And now, as has become traditional, a links round-up of what we’ve been reading:
- On Minimal Viable Products (MVPs) as processes and the imperative of testing your riskiest assumption http://www.themacro.com/articles/2016/01/minimum-viable-product-process/
- Harvard Business Review on design thinking at the San Francisco Opera https://hbr.org/2016/06/what-design-thinking-is-doing-for-the-san-francisco-opera
- Derby Museums sharing the results of usability testing on their website http://dmwebsite.ablewild.com/post/145299813241/usability-testing-we-tested-the-current-version (via Chris Unitt’s excellent newsletter)