Rather than just a fashionable euphemism – edutainment has become a serious means to generate not only new interest in the environment, but also offers engender of repeat visitation like no other approach. With a sophisticated audience familiar with the environment of digital gaming, it was only a matter of time that the entertainment played its part in the heritage and museum experience.

Edutainment can be seen to have inhabited the museum sector in three core areas – the first being in ‘audience experiences’, including the latest physical effects theaters. The second area is the ‘simulator experience’ offering a recreation of various activities – and finally there is the incorporation of a ‘game narrative’ within the digital presentation into the exhibition space.

Concerning the innovation in ‘audience experiences’ – we can trace a direct path from developments in the theme park and attraction sector employed directly in the museum sector. This is best illustrated by the Science Museum in London’s opening of their new Fly Zone gallery. A specialized space that comprised both a 4D effects theater installation (‘Red Arrow 3D’), but also simulator systems to offer a interactive narrative to the story. The 4D effects theater using 3D film, Dolby 5:1 surround sound, sensory effects of smoke and smell, all married to motion of the 21-seater ride platforms, specially designed by UK firm Metropolis.

The explosion in popularity of 4D film theater systems in the attraction and leisure sector is fueled partly by the innovative experience they can offer to a large through-put of audience, but also because of the physically achieved by the effects these systems incorporate. Along with smoke and smell, lighting, vibration, tickle and even snow and bubble effects can populate the theater – 3 degree of freedom (DoF) and 6 DoF motion platforms can move the audience to a high level of immersion. Borrowing from Hollywood, the latest CGi effects are available to create compelling film content.

But the passive film is now joined by the interactive experience – the FlyZone gallery also incorporates the ‘Fly 360°’ attraction – which sees two-seat interactive simulators that offer 360-degree motion over two axes, and allows guests to experience the three of piloting a jet fighter. These unique simulators manufactured by Maxfligt and have become a popular inclusion for air museums, heritage collections and visitor attractions.

The immersive ‘simulator experience’ has become a compelling component of the future of edutainment within facilities, appealing with a wide demographic of patrons. US manufacturer ETC has developed their ‘Wild Earth: African Plains’ – deployed in the Philadelphia Zoo – the two-seater ‘XSpeed eMotion’ simulator allows guests to travers the African savanna taking pictures of the wildlife they find. An interactive game experience offers a compelling and informative narrative perfect for the museum environment.

It is the need for the game or film experience content to match the needs of the educational message that is opening a new sector of the interactive experience industry – the creation of a enduing and compelling message borrows from all aspects of the video game, theme park attraction and computer graphics skill set. We now see developers working intently with museum curators and specialist is particular aspects heritage and historical studies offering direction in the creation of compelling content.

The ability for patrons to directly experience the exhilaration of narratives described within museum and air collections have seen a wide verity of venues of different size and budget deploy edutainment technology. The smaller venues turning to examples like the 15-rider ‘SRV’ cabin ride simulator from Doron Precision Systems; a compact motion delivery platform that offers a versatile edutainment approach, with a wide library of educational experiences.

With an audience familiar with digital entertainment the deployment of digital screens need to embrace a more compelling experience. As seen in the Digital Out-of-Home (DOOH) advertising sector, ‘gamifiaction’ (the inclusion of game-play elements in interactive presentations) is being deployed to drive audience interest and dwell time. The ‘game narrative’ offers a means to educate through achievement, but also can be used to manage large groups of visitors compelling them to take part in activities linked to exhibits.

Unique display based game systems build on motion tracking to represent the users movements within the game. EyeClick is a developer of such dynamic floor, wall, window, and table display interactive systems – the company having installed systems in the Tower of David Museum in Jerusalem, Israeli; their projected surfaces deployed on the floor and windows of the facility and allowing guests to compete in creating and destroying virtual fortresses, representing the story of the history of the times, a unique and informative means to illustrate a message.

Finally, as the video amusement industry marks nearly fifty years since the first video game system was deployed, and the games themselves find a place in the museum. The interest in exhibits charting the rise of video arcade game was originally fuelled by travelling museum attractions such as VIDEOTOPIA, in the 1990’s – as well as a number of museum exhibits extolling the emergence of video gaming (such as London’s Barbican Gallery exhibit ‘GAME ON’ in 2002).

Most recently we have seen the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria, New York has installed a new exhibit called after one of the first video games (‘Spacewar!’), dedicated to charting the influences that influenced the birth and rise of the electronic entertainment medium; the modern museum audience now ready to be told the story of interactive entertainment – while expecting it from their leisure activities but it in the home or when outside.

From originally seen as an oddity and distraction from the serious business of informing and educating guests to museums and galleries, the entertainment sector has now proffered new tools in shaping the memories and passing on knowledge through the medium of edutainment. Though still in its infancy, the merging of the skills needed to entertainment can now be applied to that needed to educate.

Back to top