March 22-25, 2006
Albuquerque, New Mexico

Interactions: Description

Adding Games to a Museum Website

Geoffrey Crane, Questacon, Australia

This mini-workshop will examine the conception and development of QCSI, a project that started out mainly as an idea to experiment with Flash Communication Server. Initially this experiment was to have been some sort of collaborative logic puzzle for young children to work together to solve.

The Questacon Smart Moves science careers and cutting edge science programme then became interested in a 'game' for their teenager oriented website. With their interest Smart Moves brought a substantial financial contribution. Our first concept for Smart Moves was a nanotechnolgy exhibit, where a group of users would collaborate to build their own nanobot from a parts bin. This idea is still floating around the organisation and nanotechnology companies have been approached to support its development.

Obviously the nano project did not go ahead. Why? Because the one topic that Smart Moves' school show audiences were most interested in was forensics, thanks largely to the litany of TV shows, like NCIS, the various flavours of CSI and Law & Order and similar Australian dramas too: Stingers and Halifax FP. QCSI was written and produced to provide a more realistic (than TV) glimpse of the team work and technical realities of forensic science.

Using Flash Communication Server technology users become part of the crack team that solves the mystery after a body is found at Questacon. As part of the forensics team they have access to the latest crime solving techniques, and have to share their new knowledge with their team mates, and listen to what they have to say.

Forensic analysis, videos of police interviews of the suspects and Questacon security camera tapes are all included. As a team they can then decide what happened, and what to do, see and hear next in the investigation.

...and yes, in the end we reveal what really happened!

QCSI is played by two, three or four people. Each player is assigned a character (eg detective, criminal psychologist or lab tech) and they are able to communicate via a chat window on the side of the exhibit. Players also vote to make decisions and share information gathered at the scene by their character. They also bring their character's specialist knowledge to bare on their decisions and ultimately decide as a group what they think actually happened.

The exhibit also provides links to tertiary forensics courses in Australia and to other forensics resources. At the time of writing (September 2005) more than 7000 QCSI sessions had taken place.

Mini-Workshop: Games on Museum Websites [Education]