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interface technologies, graphics, and the representation of virtual environments are among
the technologies that have contributed to the development of more realistic and versatile
games. Since the late 1990s there has been an increase in the number of games set in his-
torical contexts or which have involved cultural organisations in their development.
Numerous games that demonstrate potential in the education and heritage sectors are
freely available online.The final report in this volume examines gaming technology and its
possible role in the heritage sector. Games can provide an exciting way to engage younger
audiences with the European cultural and scientific heritage and can make exciting use of
digital assets that heritage organisations are creating.
Contextualisation and Next Steps
There are numerous dangers posed by the introduction of new technologies. Among
these are over-optimistic expectations, rapid redundancy of hardware and software, short-
age and high-cost of support services such as training, and problems surrounding the
maintenance of hardware, software and data.The technologies covered in this report all
can contribute to improving working practices in public institutions and most can be
closely inter-related. Smart tags, for example, provide mechanisms for linking objects with
their representations stored in digital asset management systems and supply mechanisms
for managing and monitoring visitor experiences.The way in which Virtual Reality repre-
sentations can be delivered in the cultural environment reflects developments in human
computer interface methods and technologies. Games technology is an area that offers
substantial opportunities for the cultural sector. Here again, its use is closely linked with
DAMS,Virtual Reality, and Human Computer Interfaces. Until recently, design and devel-
opment costs of games have been a prohibitive factor but, for some uses, newer software
development environments have lowered the threshold.While the sector is encouraged to
investigate the opportunities that new technologies offer, it should be done with some
caution. Six years ago, Riemer Knoop, in an address to a European Union Conference on
Heritage in the Information Age (Brussels, 5 June 1997) reported that the research showed
the Dutch population fell into one of three categories: "(1) thrill seeking/experiencing, (2)
inner harmony/escapism, and (3) spiritual growth/intellectual curiosity".The greatest
number of individuals fell into the class of thrill seekers. Knoop concluded that if cultural
institutions want to maintain their current audience share, "they cannot but adjust them-
selves to the demands of this group, and to make sure their exhibitions are full of funny
electronics, each season new, better, and more surprising" (ibid.).This, as Knoop admitted,
is a dangerous approach because it requires continual investment, depends upon access to
skilled staff, consumes a steady stream of curatorial resources, is technology driven, and
needs to respond to high and ever increasing audience expectations outside cultural insti-
tutions. Each year, visitors will expect improvements. Implementing any of these techno-
logical developments will require increased resource, whether human or financial.The
problem is endemic to heritage institutions where funding of technology has always been
sucked from already bone-dry budgets. Rarely have new recurrent monies been made
available to ensure that technology is regularly enhanced and replaced (Ross, 2001, ICT
Needs Assessment: `Budgetary Suicide at the Altar of ICT'). For technology to find a secure
place in museums it must come as new investment. So, while the reports demonstrate that
these technologies bring substantial benefits to the sector, they also show that successful
adoption and use requires political action to ensure new and more equitable budgets are
available to heritage institutions for their implementation.
Introduction
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