Whilst a student at the University of Lincoln, I had the opportunity to liase with representatives at the Museum of Lincolnshire Life to explore how games can communicate information about exhibits in interesting ways. In particular, they had an interest in mixed and virtual reality games.
Over the course of a year, I developed small prototypes for the museum which were then used with small test groups comprising of people from different demographics. During this time, the museum won the East Midlands Heritage Award 2015 in the Innovation category.
I spent my time with the museum exploring mixed reality games, which comprise of exploration of the real world through interactions with a device. I used the Android SDK/Eclipse bundle to create mobile applications that served information about museum exhibits.
The initial test run of the application started during the 2013 Performance in Games workshop, where the museum offered access. After a short game jam-like period of five days, the application had a test run with around fifteen people, tasked to solve a series of short clues on their devices, which led to exhibits with NFC tags. These tags can be "scanned" by a compatible phone, allowing the device to see the player progressing with their challenges.
Later prototypes used bluetooth beacons (iBeacons), standalone battery powered devices which allow - within a (large) margin of error - to detect the proximity of a bluetooth-enabled device to a beacon. Replacing NFC tags with beacons allowed for an experience that didn't visibly on physically intrude on museum exhibits, since the beacons could be hidden out of sight with ease.
Though the application saw no consumer release within the museum, it was an invaluable experience to be able to work with museum staff to develop a product and to get feedback from real players.