Monday, 23 June 2008

Do you know your grinding from your zerging?

Well don't panic if not, it shouldn't stop your museum or organisation joining the games revolution.

The China in Yorkshire project dipped a toe into the world of gaming recently when it developed a new addition to its the regional museums learning website; My Learning. Yong's China Quest follows the young disciple Yong on his journey to enlightenment in 500BCE.

Like all good platform games, he has to collect items, skills and knowledge along the way. Some of the eccentric characters in the game share their wisdom (if not somewhat grudgingly) whilst you muse at the quirky puzzles and admire the beautiful artwork of the game. But it's the items that Yong collects that will draw the attention of the museum fraternity - Leeds Museums and Galleries, Museums Sheffield, the Thackray Medical Museum and the National Railway Museum have all 'virtually' loaned objects to the game. Gamers can explore items from Beijing Olympic mascots to ivory figurines, dragon robes and even fight with authentic swords.

Computer games are seriously big business

In 2004 the UK computer and video game industry recorded sales in excess of £2 billion (According to the Entertainment and Leisure Software Publishers Association or ELSPA). We have the third largest games market in the world, only after the US and Japan. In short, as a nation, we looooove computer games.

So China in Yorkshire may have been very canny in tapping into this huge and eager market. Only time will tell if this new venture will open up new audiences for the museums involved and engage young visitors more deeply with their objects.

Play Yong's China Quest for yourself.

Hungry for more? Yong's adventure joins a host of other museum and heritage games already out there. You could also try:
  • You could also try My Culture Quest where you travel the world collecting objects, developing themes and finally curate your own exhibition (we all know this isn't as simple as it sounds!). Created by Weston Park Museum
  • The slightly addictive Penguins in Peril from the Natural History Museum - I just can't bear any penguins getting lost
  • Being a Librarian has never been so noisy and stressful as in Nanw's Great Adventure - see how far you can get
  • The National Archives try at gaming is truly harrowing as you act as a messenger in WW2 Trench Mission - don't play this one if you are scared of rats. It was all too much responsibility for me
  • There are yet more rats in the highly amusing (if a little unimaginatively named...) Church Game by English Heritage which puts you in the shoes of a restoration builder battling against graffiti, leaking roofs and broken windows - how very realistic. Not to be missed!
  • The National Museums Scotland Egyptian Tomb Adventure brings archaeology bang up to date
  • But my all time favourite and recommendation for Friday afternoon in the office entertainment has to be RoboPoop - yes this is a game about poop from the brave people at Scottish Water. Billed as science in the sewers, you are tasked with blasting away the items blocking the sewers
Will modern gaming help us to engage with new audiences in the future? Leave your comment.

Still unsure when to grind and zerg?

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