Gaming is a natural human instinct and evidence of human involvement with games
stretches back across the past five millennia. Games have made the transition from board
to desktop with fluidity, and the information age, with its new platforms and devices,
provides an ideal medium for the improvement of games technology. In the United
States of America, sales of computer games already exceeds those of books, while in the
United Kingdom games sales outstrip video rentals by 80%.
Clearly, this is an increas-
ingly powerful industry.
The spread of games is potentially limitless.They can be run on desktop or handheld
computers, dedicated static or portable gaming consoles as well as mobile phones and
interactive TV. Basically, where there is a processor and a screen the potential for games
Games can be divided according to their genre, the online or offline playing modes
and the involvement of one or more players.
In the last years massive multiplayer
online games have become more and more popular. Most essential for the development
of games in recent years has been the development of computer graphics, virtual envi-
ronments and multi-agent systems. More popularity gains have been made by the so-
called edutainment applications, which combine educational content with entertaining
forms of presentation.
One recent trend has been to produce games with a historical setting and `feel', offer-
ing obvious potential for heritage organisation involvement. Such games could increase
the knowledge of players of historical settings and could provoke interest in visiting col-
lections. Games are a specific product with an enormously wide potential audience.They
remain under-used by cultural heritage institutions at a time when their potential could
be being harnessed in order to expand awareness and knowledge of collections through
`edutainment' packages and other strategies.
Following a brief history of the first 30 years of electronic games, this report explores
the potential uses of modern gaming technology in the cultural heritage sector and fea-
tures an examination of those technologies which may be most applicable in future her-
itage work. Featured case studies include the French Réunion des Musées Nationaux
and Berlin's Digital Game Archive.
102 Although highly popular and lucrative, this report will not
cover Internet gambling, another form of online `gaming'.
ustees of the National Museums of Scotland / SCRAN, UK