April 15-18, 2009
Indianapolis, Indiana, USA

Sessions: Abstract

Fictional press releases and fake artifacts: How the Smithsonian American Art Museum is letting game players redefine the rules   go to paper

Georgina Bath Goodlander, Smithsonian American Art Museum, USA

We live in a world in which information and entertainment are customizable and immediately available. The Internet has become a larger part of everyday life, and so too have networked games, as people seek community, activity, a sense of achievement, and the chance to be part of something bigger (McGonical, 2008). Museums can reach out to their audiences in more ways, using blogs, podcasts, video, and social media, but can they meaningfully engage visitors using games? In the fall of 2008, the Smithsonian American Art Museum hosted an Alternate Reality Game titled “Ghosts of a Chance.” We did this with three goals in mind: to broaden our audience, to do a bit of self-promotion, and, most importantly, to encourage discovery around our collections in a new, very interactive way. This paper will discuss the challenges that the museum faced, evaluate the successes and failures of each part of the game, and make recommendations for other museums interested in trying something similar.

Session: Learning From Games [design]

Keywords: games, alternate reality, Ghosts of a Chance, ARG, art, play