The story of total darkness create hub electricity experiments for high school


Science Museum Group has a long history of successful games, with physics puzzle ​Launchball proving particularly popular, but this project was unlike anything they had tackled before. year 6 electricity unit Beth Hawkins, who led the museum’s work around science capital, says, “putting the research into practice is about changing the way we think. Science capital gives us a good practice framework to help us reflect on our work and create an open, welcoming environment that shows how everyone is included in science.”

Instead of focussing on specific scientific concepts like gravity or antibiotics, the aim was to invite players on a journey of self-discovery, provoking reflection on the role of science in their lives and the skills they take for granted. With research clearly showing that the idea of science can be off-putting, the concept had to be built around relatable people and places, appealing to a broad audience who might not normally play science games.

A three-month research and development phase, led by digital agency ​ AllOfUs, mapped the current market offer, ranging from wearables and augmented reality to YouTube and Minecraft. The team then worked with young people to generate new ideas and identify recurring themes through rapid prototyping. c gastronomie brignais Three themes stood out: world exploration, quirky character interaction and a structure offering clear goals. All three of these are recognisable game tropes, reinforcing the team’s decision to pursue a game-based format.

Inspiration for early prototypes included the poverty simulation game ​ Spent, text adventure ​ A Dark Room, set in a barren future of sparse resources, and ​ One Chance, ostensibly about science but ultimately challenging players to avoid destroying the world. Each of these references feature compelling story, meaningful choice-making and moments of surprise or realisation. 5 gas laws Another phase of prototyping resulted in two playable concepts that were tested with the target audience for general appeal and their capacity to provoke self-reflection.

The first prototype, thrown together in Powerpoint, invited players to figure out a magical box that had lain undiscovered for many years. The narrative shape of “Curious Contraption” was intended to deliver multiple outcomes depending on player choices – as in ​ Please Don’t Touch Anything – but this open-ended nature caused some confusion. In contrast, “Mystery Map” was a classic text adventure, like ​ 16 Ways To Kill A Vampire At McDonald’s, built in Twine. This format, in a relatable setting with multiple routes to a single solution, was far more popular.

Story isn’t the obvious vehicle for science engagement and branching narrative presents a uniquely technical challenge – all the more so with a project team comprising 12 stakeholders from three museums, Thought Den’s five-strong production team and two external critical friends. While early collaborative sessions on character, setting and scenarios were satisfyingly fruitful, the project soon became a tangle of storylines and interdependencies.

At one stage of production, a team of four writers were all working to squeeze as much character and story development out of as few words as possible. wd gaster website A key tool in this content workflow was ​ Inky, developed by the studio behind the popular mobile hit ​ 80 Days. electricity origin Inky allowed the team to create, manipulate and preview complex branching narratives. Over time, content reviews addressing structure, then moving to factual and stylistic changes, could be folded into the live game engine for testing.

Being a primarily text-based adventure game meant the artwork was especially important, both as a visual counterbalance to the text and to attract a diverse audience. The setting and story naturally suggest a darker, grown up tone, with brighter highlight colours employed so as not to alienate younger players. The attention to detail from art director Benedict Webb – from the crashed car on the map to signs in the supermarket window – adds a quirky humour that lifts the whole experience.

At the start of a process like this, it’s tempting to make endless lists of learning outcomes. gas finder app Going from complexity to simplicity is never easy, but the simpler the message the better. Over an 18 month process, more than three years of science capital research was distilled into an experience that essentially asks players to reflect on their use of three skills, easily taken for granted but so critical across multiple industries.

In the three months since launching in Summer 2018, Total Darkness was played 37,000 times, for an average of more than 10 minutes. Publishing on third-party sites like Kongregate and MiniClip helped bring the game to an audience far beyond those that would normally walk through the Museum’s doors. An added benefit of these portals was being able gather comments and ratings from players in a way that wouldn’t normally be available without a comprehensive evaluation.

Of course, science can’t be expressed in only three skills, but the ultimate aim of the game is showing children they already have what it takes to excel in science. People build emotional connections when they play, which creates all kinds of opportunities for learning and positive behaviour change. ​Total Darkness is just one example of how play can break down dangerous preconceptions and enable an audience to look at themselves, and science, in a different light.