Beestenbende

Beesten­bende (Ani­mal May­hem) is a game for fam­i­lies vis­it­ing the cab­i­net of curiosi­ties at Uni­ver­sity Museum Utrecht. Play­ers are invited to look at the objects on dis­play through the eyes of sci­en­tists. In the game, a num­ber of ani­mals in the cab­i­net are con­fused about the ani­mal group they belong to. For exam­ple, a fly­ing squir­rel thinks it is a bird, because it can fly. Play­ers divide into two teams and col­lect evi­dence by tak­ing pho­tos of ani­mal fea­tures, such as paws, feath­ers and so on. They label and sub­se­quently show the evi­dence to the ani­mal, in the hopes of con­vinc­ing it of its true nature. The team with the best evi­dence wins.

Beestenbende

Beesten­bende is an applied game with real results. The museum wanted to deepen the engage­ment of vis­i­tors with the cab­i­net. Evi­dence from playtests sug­gests this is cer­tainly the case: Play­ers spend an aver­age of 30 min­utes in the cab­i­net, where before they would make a brief round of the dis­plays. They focus on and think about indi­vid­ual objects sep­a­rately and in rela­tion to oth­ers. Play­ers dis­cuss what they see with each other, and share an enjoy­able experience.

Beestenbende

Other notable aspects of the game include the fact that the museum’s col­lec­tion is fully part of it, but did not require any adap­ta­tion. The game also explic­itly sup­ports inter­gen­er­a­tional play, adults’ knowl­edge is com­pen­sated for by children’s perceptiveness.

Beestenbende

Beesten­bende was devel­oped as part of TFI’s (Task Force Inno­va­tion Utrecht Region) SEA (Smart Expe­ri­ence Actu­a­tor) pro­gram. The aim of SEA is to research and develop new play­ful solu­tions for var­i­ous domains, by facil­i­tat­ing col­lab­o­ra­tion between game stu­dios and orga­ni­za­tions from these domains. Beesten­bende is the first pilot for the her­itage domain.

More pho­tos can be found over at Flickr. A video with­out sub­ti­tles is also available.