Mia Ridge, a culture heritage technologist at Monyo, is an advocate for crowd-sourced museum gaming. Mia has worked as a developer for several world-class museums and is now doing her PhD in cultural heritage through crowdsourcing. In a highly competitive market, it is crucial for your project to stand out from the crowd. Games are said to be the “participation engine” of crowdsourcing.
During a break from her hectic speaking schedule, Mia talked to us about how and why museums should be doing more:
How did you first become interested in crowdsourced gaming?
I used to be fascinated by museums as a youngster, and I also enjoyed playing early computer games and creating my own make-believe adventures. I first heard about “games with a purpose” several years ago, and while I was studying for my doctorate in Human-Computer Interaction, I became interested in applying crowdsourcing games to museum problems on the internet.
Museums have amazing, unrivalled collections, and they may make them more accessible by uploading them online. However, because museums never have enough resources to properly describe every item in sufficient depth, crowdsourcing is an excellent method to resolve the issue. Crowdsourcing, especially through games, is a wonderful way to address this void.
What are the best-crowdsourced games in the museum sector?
I wish there were more crowd-sourcing games available in the museum industry! The majority of them appear to be housed in art galleries: the best I’ve found is Tag! You’re it, Tag! That’s what I know about. The Powerhouse Museum and the Brooklyn Museum both offer APIs, making it simple to build games around their exhibits. Digitalkoot also appears to be entertaining, and GalaxyZoo and FoldIt have a large following.
Do you have any advice for museums considering “gamification”?
More museums should develop crowdsourcing games since they are a fantastic method to engage visitors. When it comes to crowdsourcing, the most important thing is to find things that you need and satisfy your target audience’s needs and skills. The concept of the magic circle and the idea of flow developed by Csikszentmihalyi are both beneficial when considering crowdsourced game design in intimidating places such as museums. In my study, I discovered that calling on the magic circle and offering easy activities with prompt feedback helps “reluctant gamers” get started. People are also interested in learning how playing a game will assist a museum.
There’s a lot of discussion about “gamification” at the moment, and I’m personally uncomfortable with the phrase. Museums have a lot of interesting things to show the public that I hope they don’t resort to gimmicks. One reason I started the website Lift Your Museum Game was to assist museums in finding the best game research and developing compelling games with important results.
And what advice would you give game designers interested in working with museums?
Gosh, what a coincidence! Museums are rather slow in my opinion – they think in years instead of months or weeks. Patience and tolerance are required, but working with museums is a gratifying experience when it goes well. You can alter a kid’s life or start someone on the road to discovering a new interest. Most importantly, you’ll be working with individuals who are enthusiastic about their work and enjoy sharing their amazing breadth of understanding about history and collections.
Finally, if you could work with any museum in the world, which would it be? (of course, you have an unlimited budget and endless air miles)
There are so many options! I’d love to collaborate with one of the amazing art galleries and create really innovative games. But I also enjoy the thrill of stimulating people about seemingly “boring” history and science relics. I’d also want to learn more about social game mechanics. We may expect many innovative games in the future as museums open up their collections.