[Word Cloud of Survey Responses: "How would you describe this game to friends or family members?", http://www.wordle.net]
We have been running a module version of the "Ghosts of a Chance" Alternate Reality Game since December 2008. More than 900 children, teens, and adults have played. They look like they are having a good time, they tell us they are, and we certainly have a good time running the program. However, the biggest question I have been asked since starting this entire project, is how do we know that the game has value? It is not strictly educational, it does not fulfill any specific curricula, but it DOES get teenagers and children excited about being in an art museum. Isn't that enough? A seventeen-year-old told me that he had never visited the American Art Museum before, because he thought we "just had old portraits." He spent his free time at the Hirshhorn, instead. He didn't even really want to play the game, though I convinced him and his friend to give it a try. After almost two hours of "running around in circles" (which he saw as a good thing) he told me that he couldn't believe how awesome our collection was, and he would definitely be back again to see more. (Note to Hirshhorn: You're still his favorite!) On another occasion, a fifteen-year-old complained because the game had taken her "past the artworks far too quickly." She was conflicted because she wanted to look at the art more closely, but she also wanted to race her friends and finish first. We have been thinking about ways to solve this, and may create a scoring system based on how well the players complete the tasks, rather than how quickly. But what a great complaint to get! A teenager, wishing she could spend more time pondering the art! I was happy, yet I wanted more concrete data to support these wonderful anecdotes. At the end of June, we conducted a small survey to see if we could start to truly evaluate the game's value. You can see the results here. I think it's a great start and would love to hear what you think.