The proliferation of iPhones and Smart-Phones continues to enlarge the tools available to museums for mobile interpretation and to raise the expectations of their audiences.
Launched in 2010, Tate Trumps is an iOS application which transforms the Tate’s permanent collection into a game.
Visitors can download the game for free to an iPod Touch or iPhone, roam the galleries, choose seven high-scoring artworks, and then play.
There are different modes of play: Battle mode, Mood mode or Collector mode.
It is possible to play alone, with friends or family. In Battle mode, players are challenged to ask themselves: “If this artwork came to life, how good would it be in a fight?”
The Mood mode is a more meditative approach, the players are indeed asked to think for artworks that are menacing, exhilarating or absurd. Finally, the Collector mode gives a chance to the players/visitors to constitute their own art gallery acting like real curators.
Once players have chosen the artworks they think will bring them victory in their chosen mode, they meet up and play out a fast, dynamic card game to discover who has found the best examples from the collection.
In January 2012 the Anywhere Mode was added to Tate Trumps. This new gameplay mode lets players play Tate Trumps wherever they are – not just in the Tate gallery itself. In Anywhere Mode, players pick works from the virtual gallery wall, and pit them against two other players – human or computerised.
VIDEO https://vimeo.com/ 11604394
According to the creators of the app (the company Hide&Seek) it was important the mobile application appealed not just to existing fans of Tate and their collection, but to a wider audience with only a casual or passing interest in art. People who are interested in a more playful experience than cultural institutions typically offer.
Another important factor was that the eventual game should appeal beyond the stereotypical 18-35 male demographic that traditionally download and play mobile games.
The experience wasn’t intended to be a game in the conventional sense, but something made to look at the art in new way. And for all audiences, the sequence of exploring individually (which may also help heighten one’s appreciation of the art) and then regrouping to play the game (in a cafe or other public space) is really smart — enhancing and activating all areas of the museum.
According to Peter Law, development producer & creative project manager for Hide&Seek, games “can be used as marketing tools, to reach new audiences, or to change how people enjoy the galleries.” He says, “More than 20,000 games of Tate Trumps were played in the first two months after launch.” On average visitors spend somewhere between 1 and 1.5 hours playing the game per visit.
Visitors are nowadays more and more experienced with technology and expect opportunities to interact with museum contents. Museums have to address these expectations by being increasingly dynamic. On the other hand, museums challenges are to maintain their relevance to society and to try to find new way of focusing visitors on the museum's physical offering a unique and different type of experience from the ones visitors are daily used with the social media.
It certainly offers a powerful medium to deliver a message and contents to the visitor as the Tate Trump transcends conventional museum guide models to engage visitors on a deeper level through play experience.
1-To you, can app gaming mechanisms be applied to an art context? Does it really increase the visitors’ experience? Do you normally use apps to support your visit?
2-Do you think mobile games can reach out to a non-traditional arts audience?
3-On the apple store there is a comment about this app that says:
“Great idea, crappy tech. Either fix it or remove it from the App Store.”
Tech influences enormously our experience when using an app. How do you comment on this? Do you think museums should invest more on apps? Do you have any good ideas for Tate Modern to develop some new apps for involving more audience?