Title:Gaming the Museum
Authors:Martha Henson, Danny Birchall
Publication:MW2011: Museums and the Web 2011

Why, with the vast resources, and fundamental human subjects at our disposal, have museums failed to make more than a handful of really compelling games? Are we too wedded to the idea that games must be educational? Do we lack the in-house skills to make subject matter and game engines gel, or are we simply trying to enter an overcrowded marketplace with too few resources? Should we leave making games to the professionals?

At Wellcome Collection, we are beginning the process of making games for our website that put compelling gameplay at the centre of the experience, building our subject matter and resources around that experience. Games have their own logics and structure, and there's no reason these should be subjugated to narrow educational aims any more than the physical layout of the museum should determine the information architecture of our websites. The playful and exploratory impulses that draw gamers towards great games are still largely untapped as a means of engagement.

Using the mini-workshop format, we will present our progress to date and open up a discussion of other museums' experience, sharing our ideas and understanding of games. We will use simple exercises to look at matching our available resources (narratives, photography, object databases) to modes of gameplay, as well as investigating reusable game engines, game syndication, and building enthusiasm for games inside the organisation.