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published: March 2004
analytic scripts updated:  October 28, 2010

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Incorporating youth culture in cultural education
Henk van Zeijts, Waag Society, the Netherlands

Demonstration: Demonstrations - Session 2

Incorporating youth culture in cultural education

- An adventure game for Teylers Museum -

In Teylers Museum in Haarlem, the Netherlands, the concept of an adventure game is used to create a learning environment in which the collection of the museum is naturally embedded. The game environment offers visitors a learning experience based on a narrative structure. The narrative structure gives information on the museum's collection a logical and appealing context, thus creating stimulating ground for learning.

The educational, mixed-media adventure game is aimed at pupils aged 13 to 18, and takes place both within the museum and online. The pupils are introduced to Minx, a girl from the future who seeks their help in order to save the museum. A greedy heir of the founder of the museum intends to sell the entire collection. The pupils are challenged to prevent this, and need to perform certain assignments within the museum to safeguard the collection. Clues for the assignments are derived from Michelangelo sketches, antique coins and paintings.

The adventure game is part of Teylers Museum's new, interactive wing: Room i, which opened up in 2002. Room i is organised around a digital reading table which provides the visitor with three options: take part in the adventure game, browse the educational media library or explore the extensive collection on the public website. Waag Society, a media lab working in a cultural context, is responsible for the concept, design strategy and production of this room.

Waag Society and Teylers Museum believe that new media for learning purposes mixes well with the daily routine of young people, as youth culture today is more and more dominated by (communications)technology and high tech applications - such as mobile phones, games and online chats. For kids, this is not a problem, they recognize the charmes and possibilities of technological innovation instantly and deal with the continuous streams of information and images in their own way. What they like they use, what they use helps them to build their own identity.

A creative digital learning environment should incorporate youth culture and provide youngsters with a stage to help shape their identity and share their views. Pupils should be able to play, communicate, create, cooperate, experience and learn, in a way that fits them, inside the classroom, out on the street or in cultural institutions like museums.