David T. Schaller, Eduweb • 2014
Since the cabinets of curiosity of yore, museums have collected widely and deeply, building collections that they now draw upon to interpret the diversity of the natural world and the heights of human achievement and expression. A game, in contrast, maintains a singular focus on a system of rules that ties together game objects and player actions. How, then, can a game maintain that strict focus while doing justice to the rich, heterogenous collections and content of a museum?
This paper explores the nature of this challenge and examines how a handful of museum games respond to it, using either extrinsic or intrinsic gameplay. Extrinsic games adopt existing game mechanics as generic containers for content. Intrinsic games devise novel gameplay that integrates content into the game choices and consequences. Museum game developers must understand the benefits and risks of these contrasting approaches, as well as the implications for development effort, playtesting, and learning outcomes, so they can make the best design choices for their project.
David T. Schaller, Eduweb, and Barbara Flagg, Multimedia Research • 2013
PlanetMania is an iOS and Android mobile game designed to be played with the Maryland Science Center's new Life Beyond Earth exhibit. Intended for preteens, the card-based gameplay expands upon exhibit content and encourages interaction with the physical exhibit. Through extensive paper prototyping and iterative development, the project team revised and simplified the game content and interactivity, striving for intuitive game rules, age-appropriate scientific content, and engaging game play and learning outcomes all in a museum environment where players have plenty of distractions.
David T. Schaller, Eduweb • 2011
In the late 20th century, museums moved from traditional methods of knowledge transmission to constructivist interpretive methods such as narrative, a transition that many found challenging. Today, museum educators wishing to adopt game-based learning methods face a similar challenge: to move from now-familiar narrative methods to a systems-based approach in which rulesets define player choices and subsequent consequences. These rules represent some aspect of the subject matter, while also revealing the designer's perspective on it. Rules create the space for the players to author their own experience, made more meaningful because it was shaped by their own choices, actions, and struggles within the system.
David T. Schaller, Eduweb • 2011
Museum games can be a powerful meaning-making experience for players, but only if we understand that what makes games fun is also what makes them meaningful. Renowned game designer Sid Meier (Civilization, Railroad Tycoon, Pirates) famously defined a good game as "a series of interesting choices." What makes choices interesting? The same thing that makes them meaningful: consequences, context, and a savvy appeal to human psychology. When designed well, these choices can make even mundane content meaningful. So imagine the possibilities when we use the stuff of museums — art, science, history and technology — as our content and context.
Whether creating a game or a simpler activity, we can draw on principles of game design to weave a series of interesting choices that honors our real-world content while engaging visitors in thoughtful ways. This article considers the types of choices offered by that most common type of "game" — the quiz — before analyzing the board game Monopoly for attributes of interesting choices, and finally discusses how those attributes are built into several games for cultural institutions.
David T. Schaller, Eduweb and Kate Haley Goldman, National Center for Interactive Learning, Space Science Institute • 2011
The state of learning game evaluation currently resembles that of museum website evaluation a decade ago: designers recognize the value of evaluation but struggle to find appropriate questions, methods, and strategies to incorporate evaluation into the development process. In recent years, much academic research has been conducted on the learning affordances of commercial games such as World of Warcraft, and on in-school and afterschool based games. But evaluations of learning games played at home and in other free-choice environments are far less common. In this chapter from Museums at Play: Games, Interaction and Learning we draw on our experiences as a developer (Schaller) and an evaluator (Haley Goldman) of museum learning games to explore the challenges and rewards that arise when incorporating the player's voice into the game development process.
David T. Schaller, Eduweb, Kate Haley Goldman, Institute for Learning Innovation, Grant Spickelmier, Minnesota Zoo, Steven Allison-Bunnell, Eduweb, Jessica Koepfler, Institute for Learning Innovation • 2009
Summative evaluation of our WolfQuest wildlife simulation game finds that players report knowledge gain, stronger emotional attachment to wolves, and significant behavioral outcomes, with large percentages of players following their game sessions with other wolf-related activities, including such further explorations of wolves on the internet, in books and on television. This paper details these evaluation results from the summative evaluation, discusses the theory behind the project, and reflects on our experience developing the game.
Susan Edwards, J. Paul Getty Museum and David T. Schaller, Eduweb • 2007
This chapter from The Digital Museum: A Think Guide discusses ways that digital learning games offer museums new opportunities to engage youth and adult audiences in compelling and meaningful ways. Read an excerpt and order the book!
David T. Schaller and Steven Allison-Bunnell, Eduweb, Minda Borun, The Franklin Institute, Margaret Chambers, Consultant • 2007
In creating educational experiences, developers often target audience segments based on demographic groups. However, we all know that people vary in other significant ways. Particularly with regard to learning styles, one size does not fit all. This paper presents research findings from our study, funded by the National Science Foundation, of the effect of learning style on user preferences for different types of online learning activities, ranging from deductive puzzles to open-ended creative design.
David T. Schaller and Steven Allison-Bunnell, Eduweb, Minda Borun, Franklin Institute Science Museum • 2005
Learning styles may give us insight into the diverse ways that people view and interact with on-line learning interactives. This paper provides an introduction to our NSF-funded research study.
Steven Allison-Bunnell and David T. Schaller, Eduweb • 2005
This chapter from E-Learning and Virtual Science Centers proposes a series of strategies for reconceptualizing science center exhibits online, in order to take online users deeper into the scientific concepts underlying the physical phenomena on exhibit in the physical galleries.
David T. Schaller and Steven Allison-Bunnell, Eduweb, Anthony Chow, Paul Marty and Misook Heo, Florida State University • 2004
Macromedia Flash as a useful tool that allows greater interactivity and multimedia compared to HTML pages, but how does it affect usability and user engagement? This paper reports on a comparative evaluation of Flash and HTML versions of a single Web site, focusing on user goals, behavior, and responses.
Kate Haley Goldman, Institute for Learning Innovation, and David T. Schaller, Eduweb • 2003
Why do people visit a museum web site, and how do these motivations affect their experience with the site and the learning or meaning-making that may happen as a result of their visit? This paper builds on past research by analyzing an online survey of visitors to four museum Web sites.
David T. Schaller and Steven Allison-Bunnell, Eduweb • 2003
Transplanting learning theory from the classroom or museum environment to the Web poses unique challenges. In this paper, we review several theories of learning and explore ways that we have tried to incorporate them into our development and design process for interactive Web sites.
David T. Schaller and Steven Allison-Bunnell, Eduweb, Minda Borun and Margaret B. Chambers, Museum Solutions • 2002
Developing effective public education sites for the World Wide Web requires an understanding of both learning theory and what appeals to learners. How can Web developers create sound educational activities that attract and appeal to a broad audience? Do adults prefer different types of online learning experiences than children? Read the report!
David T. Schaller, Steven Allison-Bunnell and Susan Nagel, Eduweb • 2001
The theory and research underlying our "How do you like to learn?" study. Based on a paper for the National Association of Interpretation 2001 Conference.
Exhibit Comparison evaluation of children visiting a museum exhibit; half played a companion mobile game and half did not. Overall, using the game within the exhibit had clear value in promoting appealing engagement and learning.
The evaluation found that PlanetMania creates a new opportunity for youth to engage with a variety of museum exhibits, adding value both in terms of deepening exhibit engagement and increasing knowledge.
This evaluation of the WolfQuest learning game, conducted by the Institute for Learning Innovation, found the game to be highly effective in achieving its goals, providing a rich and rewarding learning experience for players.