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Sofia Romualdo will bring “gameful design” to the work of the museum.

Video game principles used to enhance exhibits at Exeter museum

Pioneering work by a University of Exeter researcher will see the principles behind video games used to expand what visitors to the city’s Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery (RAMM) can learn and see.

Work has started on a three year project to build upon the features which make video games so engaging, such as challenges and working towards goals, to help enhance the popular exhibits at the RAMM.

Sofia Romualdo, a PhD student at the University of Exeter, will bring “gameful design” to the work of the museum. Sofia’s University of Exeter supervisor is Professor Gabriella Giannachi, Director of the Centre for Intermedia and her RAMM supervisor is Rick Lawrence, Digital Media Officer.

During the three year project, gameful experiences will be created to complement and enhance the way visitors relate to museum artefacts. Sofia will also investigate how game-inspired thinking can help museum staff make exhibits more interactive and use technology to enhance visitor experience.

Sofia said: “Gameful design is now used regularly for commercial and marketing purposes, but the way it can benefit museums hasn’t yet been explored widely.

“Video games are really popular and children, as well as many adults, really enjoy them. There is growing recognition that building upon the elements which make them engaging – having goals, challenges, a storyline and role play – can help bring the past to life.

“I hope my work will add another layer to the visitor experience at RAMM, and enhance the stories it can tell us about the past.

“Gameful design will allow us to expand what visitors can learn and see but it won’t be a substitute for the wonderful artefacts on display.”

This spring Sofia expects to create a quest-based digital trail to take visitors around the city and back into the museum, and allow them to contribute their own content. The trail will use RAMM’s Exeter Time Trail, which is based on Placeify, a trail building tool developed by Professor Giannachi, PhD student Will Barrett, RAMM, 1010 Media and Exeter City Football Club.

Sofia is the holder of the Exeter REACT Collaborative Studentship 2015-18. Set up by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), REACT is a collaboration between the University of the West of England, Watershed, and the Universities of Bath, Bristol, Cardiff and Exeter. It is designed to transform the economic and social impact of arts projects by linking businesses and the wider “creative economy” with academic research excellence.

Date: 20 January 2016