Peeling the Onion, Part One: Gamification

Thinking about Museums

10905871104_848f7a074e_b Red onions. image by Flickr user Gwendolyn Stansbury CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0

The kinds of leisure activities available to potential museum-going audiences have multiplied exponentially over the past twenty years. Games and gaming have moved from being the domain of children to becoming a multibillion dollar global industry. Alongside this, visitation at cultural heritage organizations in Europe and North America continues to decline at a steady, alarming pace. Gaming clearly has something to offer heritage professionals, but what? And how to separate hyperbole and sales pitches from substance?

In trying to pick apart the pros and cons of gamification, I wound up exploring game theory. That led quickly into examining the relationship between games and play, and underneath all that, the concept of fun and how it relates to learning. So, let’s start peeling the onion. Hopefully without too many tears!

Apologia

I first want to briefly go over where I come…

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