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Nina K. Simon, agent of change

Agent of Change: Nina K. Simon

Nina Simon’s crowdsourced search for a title for her upcoming book leads me to bring a fine word out of penultimate obscurity: particibility. By which I mean the amount or degree a thing is able to be participated in. To me particible gets at something that participatory glosses over, which is the quality of participation afforded. A key distinction where any game is concerned, but double-dog-especially for social (and socially relevant) games such as World Without Oil – which are notable for their very high quality of participation.

Nina is Museum 2.0, which is how we met – she wrote about WWO soon after it concluded (and coined one of the most apt descriptions of the game: WWO “was a huge growing, twisting network of news, strategy, activism, and personal expression”). She’s helped bring me into the world of museums, which has been a most fruitful introduction… Because, in a word, museums want to become more particible, and WWO-style open gameplay could be key to accomplishing that.

Getting back to that book title: I’m put off by Participatory Museums, because participatory is a tag museums assign themselves, and can I trust how the museum defines participation? Very often, no. I’m attracted to Particible Museums because to me the word particible speaks of openness to participation as defined by the visitor. And in the end it’s the visitor, and only the visitor, who decides; participation is a feeling she or he gets (or doesn’t get). Photo by Musebrarian via Flickr.

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Alice in Wonderingland: Museums and alternate realities

Alice in Wonderingland: Museums and alternate realities

World Without Oil figured into a talk I gave earlier this month at the Henry Art Gallery in Seattle, as a guest lecturer for the UW Museology program. “Transforming Museums: Can Museums Learn From Games?” summarizes a lot of my philosophy about games and my outlook for the role of serious games in our common future. You can listen to the talk via this MP3 file and view the slides via this SlideShare presentation; the talk is about half an hour and there’s another half-hour of Q&A.

My thanks to Nina K. Simon for recommending me to the Museology program and to Whitney, Maya, Kylie and her sister Kari, and the other welcoming folks in Seattle.

It was the world's first serious alternate reality game, a cooperative pre-imagining of a global oil crisis. Over 1900 players collaborated in May 2007 to chronicle the oil crisis with their own personal blog posts, videos, images and voicemails. The game ended after simulating the first 32 weeks of the oil shock, but its effects continue, as game designers analyze its unique gameplay and we all watch the continuing drama with global oil prices and supply.