It’s in the game: Can playful digital experiences help organisations connect with audiences in new ways?

Professional Forum
Rob Cawston, National Museums Scotland, UK, Daniel Efergan, Aardman Animations Ltd, UK, Lindsey Green, Frankly, Green + Webb, UK

Published paper: It’s in the game: can playful digital experiences help organisations connect with audiences in new ways?

With the rise of mobile usage and online connectivity, museums are increasingly exploring concepts of “gamification,” play, and user-led experimentation to stimulate new ways of connecting audiences to collections. However, organizations are often unsure about what their audiences really expect, want, or need from these experiences. Using a collaborative project from Aardman and National Museums Scotland as a case study, this forum will explore a range of issues around creating playful and meaningful online experiences.

In the summer of 2016, National Museums Scotland launched a new online game experience in partnership with Aardman and backed by audience research with Frankly, Green + Webb. “Gen” ( invites users to look after a unique digital creature, diagnosing its many ailments and then treating them to restore its health using real objects from the museums’ collections.

This forum will outline the core challenges of the project, exploring how lessons can be applied across the sector as museums increasingly look to embrace mobile technology and engage users with their collections in new ways. The Gen project will be considered in the context of other gamified museum projects created by Aardman, as well as widening our focus to other success stories within the museum sector. Frankly, Green + Webb will explore the importance of audience research as a fundamental building block of creative digital products and share insights from their past experience of working with museums.

A range of key questions will be investigated, such as, how do agile methodologies complement projects involving elements of play? What factors influence creating an app or a Web-based product? Are heads-up experiences always better? How should you evaluate the impact of pre, during, and post-visit digital experiences? And, perhaps, most challenging, how do you shift the focus of digital production away from innovating with technology and towards innovating the user experience?

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