When Museums Meet Video Games
Today, video games are a new social and cultural practice. They have become this new space of socialization where people meet and evolve together. As diverse and varied as one can imagine, video games deal with all the major topics of relevance in today’s society. They also touch the majority of the population. The potential of video games for museums is limitless. However, the relationship between the creative and the cultural sectors of education is still full of pitfalls. Museums often digitize their collections without considering how they appear in digital-native environments, while production studios do not pay enough attention to the historical and scientific context that museums provide. Museums also struggle to pass on a sense of ownership and leadership to their audiences. Thus, it is clear that the relationship between museums and video game studios remains complex and requires further examination.
Our goal for “Museum Lab: When Museums Meet Videogames” is to raise awareness about this complex issue and to provide a safe environment conducive to honest and impactful discussion. Utilizing the collective intelligence of a well-curated group of professionals, we hope to accelerate innovation at the intersection of museums and video games.
With this program, we want to:
- Foster collaboration between museum and videogame studios;
- Provide a safe space for open conversation;
- Provide networking opportunities to a broad range of actors from the museum and video games sectors;
- Unpack the structural barriers preventing museum and studio collaboration;
- Brainstorm solutions, using case studies and references.
SESSION 1: October 28th - Exploring New Horizons: Video games and Museums
Today, we face a lack of knowledge on how video games can be used in museums. Digital tools are often used to enhance visitor experiences but it is less common to see them in museums or to see museums use games on their online platforms. The first session of our program creates a common ground of knowledge and understanding of what a game is and what it brings, what are the different formats and possible uses and interactions, who are the audiences, and how museums could benefit from them. In order to bring critical thinking and show what is possible, the second part of the session will present two very different uses of video games in museums.
Speakers: Brad MacDonald, Creative Media, Smithsonian Arts + Industries Building, and Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History (United States), Olivier Mauco, Director, Game in Society (France), and Augustin Pagenot, Centre Pompidou (France).
Workshop 1: Mutual Learning Between Videogames Producers And Museums
Moderator: René G. Cepeda
Today, we face a lack of knowledge on how video games can be used in museums. Digital tools are often used to enhance visitor experiences but it is less common to see them in museums or to see museums use games on their online platforms. The first session of our program creates a common ground of knowledge and understanding of what a game is and what it brings, what are the different formats and possible uses and interactions, who are the audiences, and how museums could benefit from them. In order to bring critical thinking and show what is possible, the second part of the session will present two very different uses of videogames in museums.
SESSION 2: November 18th - When Cultural Institutions Become Videogame Producers
Challenged by the pervasive technologies in our contemporary societies, museums need to radically transform their exhibition practices and audience experiences by incorporating new practices and actors in their programs. The second session of our program will dive into groundbreaking examples of museums nailing videogame production to explore new ways of engaging with audiences and exploring interactions. Let’s dive into these examples showing us new ways to tell stories from the museum’s collections.
Workshop 2: Implementing an innovative project in a museum & Producing a videogame: Challenges & solutions
Moderator: René G. Cepeda
This second workshop will drive us into the production phase of a video game. From high-end games to low budget and low expertise, each group will go through the production process of a video game, discuss each step and identify how to foster successful collaborations. Each team will also highlight the potential pitfalls and roadblocks to avoid but also share useful resources and tips to make things easier. This session will include a great variety of profiles to ensure in-depth content, such as game designers, game players, non-profit organizations, or commercial companies.
SESSION 3: December 9th - Videogames - A Door to New and Diverse Audiences
Today, videogames are understood as the new social spaces where cultural practice is being re-imagined, with new tools, technologies and social habits emerging daily. They are fabulous spaces where one can reach out to new and diverse audiences and start building strong relationships with each other. And because they are new spaces to explore, they can also be places to discuss inclusivity, social and cultural diversity or other topics related to today’s society and existing bias in the video game industry. It's time for museums to find these new audiences and make an impact through the use of video games.
Host: Tanya DePass, I Need Diverse Games (United States)
Workshop 3: Achieving Positive Social Impact Through Videogames
Moderator: René G. Cepeda
This final workshop aims to better understand the diversity of audiences active in the videogame industry and how to better reach them. When we know that 1 person in 3 plays videogames in the world, we can easily imagine that most of the museum's audiences are within this group. Museums could achieve their social mission by amplifying social impact through video games. The first part of this session will be about identifying the rich variety of audiences playing video games. Who are they? Why do they play? What are their habits and passions?
The second part of the workshop is all about ideation to identify strategies to reach out to these non-accessible audiences through a collaboration between a museum and a videogame studio.
In partnership with
The Smithsonian Institution is a group of museums and education and research centers, the largest such complex in the world, created by the U.S. government "for the increase and diffusion of knowledge". Founded on August 10, 1846, the institution is named after its founding donor, British scientist James Smithson. The Institution's 19 museums, 21 libraries, nine research centers, and zoo include historical and architectural landmarks, mostly located in the District of Columbia.
We Are Museums is a community of practices that supports new ideas through resources, original research and collaborative networks.