Storysavers – demonstration of a heritage game prototype

Amerongen Castle, 17. May 2016

Storysavers is a format for a smartphone application targeting at families with children (age 8-12) to discover a specific heritage site. The application is developed in a flexible way, so any heritage site can create its own game, using the same set of given activities. They can chose from options like: add your own photo’s (to answer certain questions), quizzes, query, combination or sequence games and mapping. The basic idea of Storysavers is that every site presents a story, linked to an (imaginary) child that once lived in this place. By playing the game at the heritage site children ‘save a story’ from the past.  At home the historical personage will be introduced and you make a start of your collection of historical costums. After each succesfull game children will earn more items for their collection. The games on the different sites will be linked to each other, so they expect families to be triggered “to collect all stories”.

A group of cultural organisations in the province of Utrecht have been cooperating to develop this shared gaming format. The prototype is developed for Museum Amerongen Castle.

That is the idea, but how did it work? Since it was a demo-version we were sharing one device with about ten people, which made it difficult to get the intended experience. It was funny, but the question rose whether the same effect could have been achieved by a paper version. An attractively designed treasure hunt, possibly combined with photo-assignments, might be as effective – and in addition far more flexible in the use of graphics, variety of questions and tasks. In addition it was remarkable how many logistical issues arose that are completely comparable with the practical challenges coming with every treasure hunt. The case of Castle Amerongen is extra complicated, as every visit has to be supervised for safety reasons (very vulnerable collection, like many historical house interiors). They were thinking of combining a regular guided tour with the heritage game for the families in the group. Sounds like an ‘interesting challenge’ for the museum guides.

During this demo-session heritage organisations were invited to join Storysavers. If they join now they have to invest € 1500,- and 60 working hours to become part of the collective fundraising for realising the game for the whole group of heritage sites. Or they will pay € 15.000,- (+ hours to deliver content) later for one version of the game. The application is built by QLVR. The whole project has a budget from about € 440.000,-, but this also includes the process towards implementation of serious gaming in the heritage sector in general.

On you will find a short promo-film (in Dutch).