The Big Games Challenge 2017 kicks off

Published: 7 April 2017 at 09:35

Jan Storgards presents at Big Games Challenge 2017

The seminar was held to provide interested parties with further information about the Challenge, to kick start attendees’ thinking about the ways in which applied gaming can practically affect behaviours, and to highlight the opportunities for the local economy that the tourism sector offers.

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Maureen Ayikoru, Senior Lecturer in Tourism Management at Anglia Ruskin University (ARU), spoke about SME Innovation, Gamification and Digital Technologies: Enhancing Sustainable Tourism for Local Economic Development. She highlighted that, according to a 2017 VisitBritain.org report, “tourism has, since 2010, been the fastest growing sector in the UK economy in employment terms and that the industry is forecast to be worth £257 billion by 2025”, and that in 2016 “tourism was worth £127 billion to the UK economy, where inbound tourism alone contributed to £22.2 billion”. She went on to highlight the opportunities presented to the local economy through better sign-posting of places of interest: “through stronger connectivity between visitors and the locality, we can prevent the inherent challenges of visitors remaining in central commercial and retail zones and encourage wider exploration”. (Wilbert & Duignan, 2015; Duignan & Wilbert, 2017)

The next speaker to address attendees was Ina Pruegel, Digital Engagement Manager at University of Cambridge Museums and Collections – the university's collections are a world-class resource for researchers and students and the organisation works to unlock them for a public audience. Presenting Fantastic objects and where to find them, Pruegel highlighted that the organisation’s target audience is considered to be families who feel that visiting the museums is not suited to them, and explained some of the work that the organisation does to remove some of the barriers perceived by these families. For instance, families with younger children might be worried their children will break something or be told off, and might consider the collections to be places where you have to be quiet and can’t have fun. Additionally, many of the collections are hidden within the university’s department buildings as there is hardly any signage, and so it can be daunting entering the department without knowing where to go. Some parents may also feel out of their depth and worry that if their children ask questions about the collections, they will be ill-equipped to answer. In order to alleviate these barriers, the team has considered research and reviewed existing uses of applied gaming to consider what will be most helpful in this context – from physical challenges that can be completed within the museums to the use of augmented reality to bring historical items to life.

The final speaker before the break was Jane Wilson, Arts & Events Manager at Cambridge City Council, who shared a project which is currently in development in partnership with My Cambridge: Culture Cards. My Cambridge has been looking at using big data, through working with the Cambridgeshire Libraries library card scheme in a similar way to supermarket loyalty card schemes work, to facilitate activity between young people and local sites of cultural interest. The project is in the early stages of development but Wilson encouraged participants to consider whether their Big Games Challenge concepts could complement the Culture Cards scheme or vice versa, as the projects share the same goal of providing better access to and experiences of local attractions.

After an opportunity to network with developers and experts as well as other SMEs over the break, the keynote talk was given by Pete Jenkins of Gamification+: How gamification can inspire, enthral and engage us. Jenkins highlighted how the talent of gamers should be harnessed in a multitude of situations: game players are already found throughout our businesses, and the skills they have – creative and strategic thinking – should be recognised and embedded into the workplace culture. He advocated playing with others and sharing thinking as ideas evolve faster and teams adopt and take ownership of shared new strategies. Taking aspects of games and using them as lenses can help businesses to identify gaps in people processes and to explore new strategies for engagement. All of which can be useful in the local culture and heritage sector.

Next steps

It’s not too late to participate – the Challenge closes on 12 May.

If you’re already entered the Challenge, we look forward to seeing you at the Big Games Challenge Pitch Event on Wednesday 31 May. All challenge participants are invited to attend the Big Games Pitch, with the best 10 ideas being shared. Representatives from the sector, gaming experts, and potential users will question, challenge and provide advice on how your concept might be improved, delivered or financed.