March 22-25, 2006
Albuquerque, New Mexico

Demonstrations: Description

Backyard Animal Travel Adventure

Carrie Heeter, Michigan State University, USA
Hai Kyung Min, USA

Crafting a learning game with scientific content is challenging in many ways. The two major challenges were getting content for the game and working with museum professionals and scientists. Scientific information for the game content could not be simply provided by the museum scientists. We, as the designers, discovered that studying content and becoming semi-expert in the content domain is necessary for game designers. Scientists' help worked out better when they took on roles of verifying content and providing feedback at different stages, rather than providing the scientific facts for the designers. The process of content research and creating game experience came together while the designer was getting more and more knowledge of the content domain.

Child visitor observation and teacher interviews helped the designers to establish specific purposes for the game and to narrow down the content focus. The challenge was the tension between creating fun and keeping the game scientific. In this sense, museum professionals' feedback at different stages of production was often demanding, as well as helpful. Designers needed skills to design effective communication processes during the production while trying to wrap the scientific contents with fun elements and not downplay the scientific facts.

Demonstration: Demonstrations [Close-Up]

Keywords: animal, diversity, adaptation, science and game, museum learning