Choosing the challenges and rewards

Susan Lambert's picture

When we came up with the idea of 10 Most Wanted it was clear to me, as a museum curator, what the challenges for the people who played the game would be. It was to replace all those ‘unknowns’ in the documentation of our objects with hard facts in order to make it conform to the requirements of Accreditation, the scheme  administered by Arts Council England in partnership with CyMAL: Museum, Archives, Libraries Wales; Museums Galleries Scotland and the Northern Ireland Museum Council, which sets nationally agreed standards for museums in the UK. That is who designed or made a product, where and when it was made, which particular plastics have gone into making it and what manufacturing processes have been used.  But now we are on the verge of launching the game and have therefore had to think what is required to make it work in much greater depth other challenges are emerging. For example, before people can find out these facts they need to be recruited and if people are going to be recruited the project has to be promoted. Interestingly these are exactly analogous to the need of museums to promote themselves in order to get people through their doors.

Clearly if our players recruit new players either from their friends or by promoting the project through their own networks that is equally deserving of rewards as finding out facts about the objects. So the issue now is do we have different types of reward systems for the different kinds of challenges?

We have also realised that it would be missing a trick to be so focused on the curatorial challenges of which we first thought. There is a wealth of other contextualising information that people may discover which is as or more valuable than the missing facts, and anyway, it may also get us a step nearer to them. That also needs rewarding.

A ground breaking aspect of our project is that we are asking people to do more than look, whether at texts and images or at the real world, and record what they see. We want players actively to do research – go to local record offices, trawl through company archives, interview people and so on– so we are looking for a reward system that recognises both the effort put in and the quality of the findings as well as quantity. Another challenge could be the creation of research networks. Someone who lives in Bath may be on the track of a source of information that is physically in Nottingham or further away, plastics being such a global industry. Thus collaborative working should also be rewarded.

It is clear therefore that the rewards system has to be much more complicated than we originally thought yet also simple to work and, most importantly, transparently just and easy for players to see who is where in the hierarchy of the game.  Another challenge for us but, this time, not for our players.