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  • 1.  Gamification of the museum

    Posted 10-19-2022 10:32 AM
    Hi everyone,

    I was wondering if anyone has any experience with "gamifying" their museum?

    We recently had a conversation with a multimedia company to possibly implement some new technologies in our museum: VR or AR applications, a possible app, etc., but one of the things I'm mostly interested in right now is the "gamification" of our museum. By this I mean, using the techniques of a game to get visitors to visit our space more often, or to interact with us more. Many other industries already use these techniques; think Duolingo using the Daily Streak feature to get you to keep coming back, saving miles every time you buy something, collecting all stamps and collectables so people want to keep coming back to have them all, etc. They are basically techniques that appeal to our addictive or FOMO brain, where people just want to keep going to compete with others to have a better score, or get gratification out of having a complete scoreboard.

    Does anyone have any experience with this or any ideas museum could do to implement this?

    Thank you!

    Tine Rassalle PhD
    Museum of the Southern Jewish Experience
    New Orleans LA

  • 2.  RE: Gamification of the museum

    Posted 10-20-2022 09:45 AM
    Hi! We are trying this not within our museum, but outside.

    Project was developed in response to COVID. It's proving pretty popular, with thousands of hits. Folks are invited to scan on QR code on the label of artwork reproductions we've placed all through our downtown. Let me know if you want to know more? Cheers!

    Jennifer Matotek MBA
    Executive Director
    Art Gallery of Windsor
    Windsor ON

  • 3.  RE: Gamification of the museum

    Posted 10-21-2022 09:30 AM
    QR codes and outdoor discovery-I love this!

    Michael Combs
    Digital Experience Designer
    Riggs Ward Design, L.C.
    Richmond VA

  • 4.  RE: Gamification of the museum

    Posted 10-20-2022 04:00 PM
    Greetings Tine,

    The Museum that comes to mind that has used gamification is SPYSCAPE in NYC. The SPYSCAPE museum has many interactive that visitors can use. Some of the top ones are detector booths that allow visitors to take a lie detector test, a digital enigma machine that allows one to decode messages in a game style (timer and moved a story along the more you decoded), a control room that allowed you to follow a subject through the CCV TVs, and a room where one had to make it to the other side without crossing any laser beams. The was a score that every visitor would receive at the end, but you have a activate your online profile to get access to your score. This put you on SPYSCAPE's newsletter, and you could improve your score with a return visit.

    Brian Collupy
    Head of Security
    Middlebury College Museum of Art
    Middlebury VT

  • 5.  RE: Gamification of the museum

    Posted 10-20-2022 08:11 PM
    Dear Lisa & colleagues:

    I personally have no experience 'gamifying' exhibitions, but I believe we need to use some critical museology when we consider such in-gallery gambits using IT.

    I had bookmarked a recent recommendation in reply to a question about a conference topic for the American Alliance of Museums on the AAM's 17 October Museum Junction Open Forum Digest e-mail promoting an Art Processors' Awaken Exhibition system that provides AR, VR Apps, & Immersive tech (Art Processors 2022).
    I also had been stimulated to think about this issue 5 years ago having seen a promotion for an app from THINKPROXY Location Technology for in-gallery use that pinged visitor smartphones with object related information & images.  This was in the context of the following AAM journal Museum issue cover in 2016.

    I see exactly the same troubling capture of rapt attention by deliberate design of the device apps themselves paralleled in the screen shot below from the recently promoted Art Processors (2022) Awaken Exhibition app for in-gallery device use.  Note that the users attending to the in-gallery devices provided by the Melbourne Museum in Australia below have their backs to the exhibit of artifacts.

    Screen shot from Art Processors (2022) video on a highly commendable process resulting from detailed engagement with Aborigine communities in the development of the interpretive IT content at minute 1:49.

    QUESTION: Are the device-centred behaviours pictured above actually what we want to encourage in a space where much time, trouble, & treasure has been expended to present real objects to on-site visitors? 

    I believe those interested in this issue will benefit from attending to the full arguments presented in my 17 January 2018 Critical Museology Miscellanea blog post "Get Noses Pressed up to Vitrines, not Devices" at

    This post argues that device apps employed as interpretation strategies in museum galleries actually undermine the quality & extent of direct experience with museum collections on exhibit. Communication technology apps are designed to monopolise the user's attention. [Hand-held devices] are observably, experientially, & demonstrably through research behaviourally addictive. Experiencing an exhibition mediated by means of pointing one's nose at a device screen is-first & foremost-purely interaction with the addictive hand-held device, not engagement that effectively encourages face-to-object experience. . .

    Shouldn't museums really concentrate on our "core business" providing experiences aimed at interactive engagement with real objects on exhibit rather than encouraging more interaction with communication IT? . . .

    Being museum practitioners, is it too much to expect that we would analyse our interpretive machinery through a material culture lens? Technology-. . . digital camera, the modern automobile, or a smartphone-is what the respected experimental physics professor & Director of Museum Studies Ursula Franklin (1990), author of the Real World of Technology, terms "prescriptive." By definition, this means the imposition or enforcement of a rule or method. . .

     The above blog post includes a section analysing 'gamification'.

    Essentially therefore, in your blogger's view, AR, VR Apps, & Immersive tech that have been & continue to be recommended may have some utility for museums. 

    However, are pixelated device screen images not best served up under pandemic museum closures and/or other remote external circumstances-perhaps such as the above-pictured young lady's wi-fi equipped ice-cream parlour-rather than for use inside physical museum galleries aimed at presenting real objects to in-person visitors?

    Thanks for thinking about my 25 cents worth of 'gamification' & related kinds of IT-mediated in-gallery experiences-e.g. third party-imposed Pokémon Go capture opportunities-analysed in the above referenced blog post.

    Respectfully yours

    Paul C. Thistle

    Reference Cited:

    Art Processors. 2022. "Awakening First Nations Knowledge" at (accessed 20 October 2022).

  • 6.  RE: Gamification of the museum

    Posted 10-21-2022 09:27 AM
    > "By this I mean, using the techniques of a game to get visitors to visit our space more often, or to interact with us more."

    I think of gamification as things like the Duolingo streak, unlocking achievements, and other rewards for exploration. I haven't read any studies but it's clear that this really motivates some people, and they have a lot of fun with it. Personally, I love it in Duolingo, ignore it in my workout app. It certainly works to get people to sign up so that the system will remember them and their achievements from visit to visit.

    But I think AR and applications in general, without gamification, can increase the discovery aspect of museums. The space for text or duration of audio and video is smaller and smaller, and so much of the story is untold and nowhere to be found. With software we can allow the visitor to explore in the direction of their choosing. AR is nice because it doesn't "clutter" up a physical display with a screen next to it, but it has its own challenges.

    When you view an artifact, software can allow you to find out more about the creator, or similar items, similar techniques, what else was happening in that period, perhaps an oral history, or the story of how it came to be in the museum. All that would be too much to put on a sign, and the directions the user was interested in would be buried in all the other options. Software lets the user take a guided tour or choose their own.

    If you're using a mobile app, or museum-provided device, it can take note of the visitor's interest and lead with that as they move throughout.

    I think this begins with a look at who your visitors are and what you think they will be interested in exploring, not as an average visitor, but for each sub-group. If you were going to build the museum and a guided tour for children, what would you do? Now for their grandparents? Now for people doing family research? Software (and AR) can enable that.

    My 2 cents worth. 

    Michael Combs
    Digital Experience Designer
    Riggs Ward Design, L.C.
    Richmond VA

  • 7.  RE: Gamification of the museum

    Posted 10-24-2022 10:27 AM
    Some maybe-simple answers that popped into my head are: 
    • Stamps in a passport.  Have a new stamp for each new exhibit or event (Collect them all!).  Maybe different passports for different membership levels.
    • Museum Bingo.  Cards with changing themes depending on museum events, holidays, historical events, etc.
    • Clues at the end of tours.  At the end of a tour, a clue is given.  All the clues spell something, or the sleuther solves the mystery and gets a limited edition mug or other collectible.  (They have to come back for different tours/events for a new clue).
    People love free stuff, especially if it's limited-edition and/or a prize.

    Matthew Perelli
    King Manor Museum
    Jamaica NY

  • 8.  RE: Gamification of the museum

    Posted 10-25-2022 10:00 AM
    Using gaming principles to engage visitors should be considered part of your arsenal, just don't conflate "gamification" with creating games. It's important to treat game theory like any other aspect of visitor pyschology. You want to integrate these principles into your mission productively, just like you might incorporate color theory or the golden ratio, or HVAC for that matter.

    I like the concept because it is directed at addressing a mission goal and it expands the experience without distracting from it. I don't play it simply because it's a game, but because it draws me to the content the museum offers. Arcade games on your phone are great examples of basic gamification, but terrible models for museums. They can be interchanged one for another and have nothing to offer. They are meant to be distractions. This is gamification, but not what any museum wants. Instead think of models like World of Warcraft or good reality television for that matter. These use game principles to engage their audience and hold them, but the "game" is not the experience. It's not what the "visitor" remembers. Instead, the principles serve the experience. A Warcraft player may have no interest in Call of Duty even though both are excellent examples of gamification. Duolingo (as cited by Michael) is also good example. It is not a game, but it uses gaming principles effectively to directly support the primary goals. Game theory has always be used in teaching. It just didn't have a name until modern times.

    Tod Hopkins
    Technical Director
    Hillmann & Carr Inc.
    Washington DC

  • 9.  RE: Gamification of the museum

    Posted 10-25-2022 10:11 AM
    Thanks! What we like about the is:
    -it's outside of the gallery, reaching a broad audience
    -it uses reproductions, not originals, reducing the feeling that we are doing something heretical with the art
    -it is designed in a way to drive people into the gallery (not just wander around outside, although that's fine too, obviously)
    -the puzzles are designed so that you need to look at the artwork reproduction in front of you to solve the puzzles
    -it encourages people to wander through our downtown

    While it isn't driving quite as much traffic into the gallery as we'd hoped, it is getting accessed thousands of times. So we are touching a really broad audience with the project. I like knowing that we are inching people towards feeling more comfortable engaging with art. It's not an immersive experience at a convention centre...but it is a digital experience that offers something else. We are looking forward to continuing offering innovative experiences with digital for our audiences. (It's also definitely helping to build a positive association with our brand!)

    Jennifer Matotek MBA
    Executive Director
    Art Gallery of Windsor
    Windsor ON