Museums and the Web 2005
Demonstrations: Description
Photo Credits

See museum applications demonstrated by the people who created them.

Gambling: Calculating The Risk - developing a controversial educational web interactive

Sebastian Chan, Powerhouse Museum, Australia

Demonstration: Demonstrations - Session 1

This demonstration will explore the development process and final product of the Powerhouse Museum & Casino Community Benefit Fund's Gambling: Calculating The Risk website. This site was developed by the Powerhouse Museum for the Casino Community Benefit Fund (CCBF) as an educational learning tool about chance, probability and the social consequences of gambling. Somewhat controversially, this site's primary audience is teenagers who, in Australia, are not legally allowed to gamble.

The site offers mathematically correct 'simulations' of the four most common forms of gambling in Australia scratch lotteries, lotto, poker machines and roulette. As a player progresses through the site they are required to answer a series of mathematical problems around probability and chance related to these games, learn about some of the social issues that emerge from problem gambling, and read case studies of young people affected by gambling.

Based upon an interactive in one of the Museum's recent touring exhibitions, Gambling In Australia: Thrills Spills & Social Ills, the site came into being through a grant from the CCBF. The Museum's web development team and the CCBF saw the potential of extending the exhibition interactive an odds and probability simulator to operate as an online interactive reaching substantially more people and users. However, soon into the development process it was realised that this project would need to be much more than just 'porting' the interactive to the web, and that because it would operate outside the context of the exhibition space, that it required careful reconceptualisation, and eventually a complete change of direction. At the same time, there were several moral panics in the local media around gambling and children especially around McDonalds' use of the Neopets site which offered similar gambling simulations. As a result of this, building the site involved a great deal of third parties (from the State education departments to gambling experts, counsellors, and statisticians) in order to ensure that the content of the site was sufficiently 'scaffolded' for learning, and adequately weighted towards the social issues of gambling so as not to be seen to be 'encouraging' gambling, whilst retaining playability, and game motivators.

This demonstration will show the site at its various stages of development from initial exhibition interactive to early prototypes, to the finished product.