Film Quest: A Not So Serious Museum Game

I’m a fan of video games- not just in my personal life, where first-person shooters are an important part of stress-relief and relationship building- but in my professional life as well. During my tenure as a Ph.D. student at Michigan State, I had the opportunity to be the project manager on a modification of Civilization V that let students play through the history of Ancient Egypt, using experts to determine how they wanted to shape their kingdom, deciding whether to follow historical, archival, archaeological or fringe interpretations of the past.

In my work now, I try to gamify engagement by challenging people on social media to create their own interpretations on work. But in the back of my mind, I kept thinking about video games.

For the last year, we’ve been working on an exhibition called Stories of Indian Cinema: Abandoned and Rescued, which features the story of our collections manager having to rescue films and posters from an abandoned movie theatre.

The story had all the aspects of a game: a cavernous movie theater, a lack of power meaning work had to be done in the dark, only three days to complete the task, and the requirement to make on-the-fly decisions about what films and posters would be saved, and which would be left behind.

With this in mind, we begin to create Film Quest.

The game is a simplified version of the broader story featured in the exhibition, but it provides a different method for people to learn about the collection and experience some of the excitement that occurred during the rescue.

One of the most difficult parts of making a game is getting artwork. Pixel art, while simple, is actually time-consuming to make, and can be tricky when needing to create characters that move. Luckily for me, my cousin Jenn is going to SCAD for video game art, and she created the amazing world, characters and objects that you see in the game.

At the moment, I’m not going to share my learning objectives, technical tips, and other lessons learned from making a game for a museum exhibition. I’ve submitted this as a tutorial for Museums and the Web 2018, where hopefully I’ll get the chance to teach people how to make their own.

So for now, how about you check out the game? It can be accessed from computer or mobile device here: eastman.org/filmquest.

The game only just launched, so we’re still finding some bugs- if you do, I’d love if you reach out to me! Just tweet, ‘gram or message at @kemeyersemery.

Happy gaming!

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