Title:Discover Babylon: Creating a Vivid User Experience by Exploiting Features of Video Games and Uniting Museum and Library Collections
Authors:Michelle Lucey-Roper
Publication:MW2006: Museums and the Web 2006

Discover Babylon is a research and development project involving UCLA's Cuneiform Digital Library Initiative (CDLI), the Federation of American Scientists (FAS) and the Walters Art Museum (WAM). It focuses on how new information technologies (and game technology in particular) can enable key recommendations of modern learning science and bring new life, meaning, and excitement to museum and library collections. Synthetic learning environments allow visitors to see the objects used in context, manipulate them, and ask questions about them from characters in the game. Games offer an exploratory environment in which learners can engage in experiential, active, problem-based learning, receive immediate feedback, and create their own pathways to knowledge. Collections can be virtually reassembled to create a richer appreciation of a single artifact or a deeper understanding of a whole culture.

The project emphasizes technology-enhanced learning experiences that encourage intergenerational dialogues by groups of museum audiences and that reach non-traditional museum visitors. It does this with a process that carefully integrates development and evaluation of new leaning system. The project is creating an immersive learning game that is designed to teach players about the cultural legacy of ancient Mesopotamia. The game features historically accurate virtual worlds; digital representations of museum and library objects, challenges to keep learners motivated and engaged, a question and answer tool that allows players to receive timely and relevant answers, and immediate assessments that let learners know they have mastered skills and content. The project's long term research goal is to develop a scalable, replicable tool useful for other types of collections and museums. This paper will outline the process and challenges of undertaking such a project and touch on some of the more promising directions for future research in the area of learning games for museums and library resources.