Art Museums and Games: Where are the games for grown-ups?

After looking at many examples of art museums’ games for children, I realized that I did not come across a single game for adults, neither digital or analog.  Why?  Museums are just as much for adults as they are for children.  Some adults find them just as boring as children do.  So why aren’t museums looking at creative ways for adult learning?  

I did find one example from the Luce Foundation Center for American Art.  In 2009, NPR produced a series on the Museums in the 21st Century.  On segment, entitled Interactive Games Makes Museums a Place to Play, looked at an alternate reality game (ARG) that the Luce Center produced.  Ghosts of a Chance was a game where, “for three months, players had to solve clues that were planted on Facebook, YouTube and other Web sites.” (NPR, 2009)  They produced a scaled down version months later.  The object of the game was to use the clues and free the restless spirits from the museum.  The game didn’t necessarily teach, but it did change the mindset of the museum, which is also important in improving the museum experience.  But honestly, the participants probably did learn something.

Beth Merritt, head of the Center for the Future of Museums, believes that in 10 or 20 years, the best museums will be as interactive and fun as alternate reality games — for both kids and adults.

“Biologically, games are how we’re hard-wired to learn — that’s its evolutionary role,” Merritt says. “Why shouldn’t adults play games? It’s still the most effective way to learn and push our buttons to get information into our heads.

I think that’s an important quote to end on… 


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