The Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) is a world leading cultural institution dedicated to celebrating and exploring games.
As the first cultural centre in the world to have a dedicated games lab space, ACMI has been involved in the development and research of location based games.
One example of ACMI’s successful leadership in the field is Scoot, produced to explore mobile phone technology as a playful way to engage with Melbourne’s key cultural institutions. Scoot was created by artist Debra Polson through the Queensland University of Technology and produced by ACMI in collaboration with various cultural partners.
Such location-based gaming allows for the development of relationships between people and spaces. Participant awareness of Melbourne’s cultural resources increases as they feel more comfortable engaging in the history and identity of the city via its arts institutions.
-Location based games are games that are played in the real world environment, generally using mobile devices. So handheld devices, like GPS units, PDAs, and mobile phones. Basically, location based games allow you to take gaming to the streets. Normally, location based games are about people working together to solve something, so they're group based and team based, and they're about explore and interact, both with the real and the virtual.
So they use the real spaces, and they also have a relationship to a virtual world or a virtual concept. The real pleasures of a location based games are a lot of socialization that happens, because you play in groups. You're required to interact with others. And also, that sense of discovery, when familiar places in the city suddenly become new and strange, or you're actually led to places that you may not have found before.
Our intention was good, was to let families explore the relationships between the major cultural organizations, to take them into places they hadn't seen before. And we certainly had that experience for families that got to explore the State Library, many of having not been there, certainly not been there with their children and seeing what an extraordinary place it is. It was about getting families to collaborate with technology.
So a lot of kids are really obviously very proficient with mobile phones and other technologies, and often, parents are less so. And I think most kids would be very good at the clue solving. The parents might have a better map of the city that they were working to in their heads. So it was a really nice, collaborative balance. When kids were playing the game, they were actually engaged with saving the world from the invasion of these evil carnies from another planet.
It very carefully had key historical moments and things that were referenced in the interactives in the games, and some of the clues, so we could tease out little bits of the actual history and help people learn and engage with that as they play. For example, in the State Library, there was a game called "Barry Bongo," where you had to play a bongo drumming game to get Sir Edmund Barry a copy of the book. And then when he got the book, there was an archaic telephone sitting next to you on a stand, and then that would ring.
And then when you picked that up, Sir Edmund Barry would give you a message and a clue to solve. And the clue actually referred to the most famous trial that he judged over, which was of course, Ned Kelly. So there was this play, some sort of interaction between the history of sites, and some stories around those sites, and the game itself. So they were constantly trying to engage people, both with the real world and the fantasy world of SCOOT.