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.