Museum Trend: Fiero! Museums as Happiness Engineers

Renegade Tours

Think about the museum of the future.  What do you see?

No matter what image came to mind, I bet one emotion stood out: the museum made you happy.  The museum of the future isn’t some far-off new space — it’s an opportunity awaiting museums here and now.  And it starts with one goal: making visitors happy.

In 2009, Jane McGonigal – a leading game developer and researcher – delivered a lecture at the AAM’s Center for the Future of Museums.  She discussed how museum experiences should be like games: happiness-generating experiences that give visitors a way to meaningful way to contribute to society.  Her ideas are as relevant now as they were then, and point the way for museums looking to reinvigorate their programs, inspire visitors, and become community centers known for visitor happiness.

We’ve summarized her ideas in the slides below.  Read on to find out why becoming happiness engineers can unlock the enormous potential of museums for social change.

Museum Trend: Fiero! Museum as Happiness Engineers title

Games and gamers are capable of changing the world.

World of Warcraft is one of the most successful games. Over 10 million gamers play it. The average player spends 20 hours a week in game.

With that much manpower, it would only take 5 days of World of Warcraft gaming to build Wikipedia, which has taken years to build.

If we can figure out how to tap that participation bandwidth and siphon off some of that gaming time, we can do a lot of good things.

Games make us happy and help us do things that are more amazing than we think we're capable of doing in our real lives.

Museums have all this pent-up knowledge, expertise, and collections designed to inspire.

Museums have an ethical responsibility to unleash this and inspire visitors into action.

Museums should be in the business of making people happy.

Four things create happiness: Satisfying work to do. The experience to be good at something. Time spent with people we like. The chance to be a part of something bigger.

Games work because they give us clear instructions, a world-saving mission, collaboration, and constant feedback.

My favorite emotion that games generate is "fiero." When we've done something really hard & we feel really proud of ourselves, we raise our fists in the air: Fiero!

Can we go from What did I see at the museum? to What did I do at the museum that I will now brag about to everyone I know and own as a life story?

When people show up at museums, can't we give them a mission or goal?

What are visitors leveling up in as they go from room to room? How can they showcase that afterwards?

The Institute of the Future ran a game called Superstruct.  The game predicted humanity's extinction by 2042 and challenged players to tackle super threats like pandemics.

A community of 7,000 forecasters wrote 1,000 stories about the future.

The two biggest words they used were "Museum" and "Museums."

The players saw museums as key to saving the future of humanity.

Museums can invent a better future by making us happier today and helping us collaborate to save the real world tomorrow.Credits

Download the PDF version of these slides.

Fiero! Museums as Happiness Engineers” is a lecture by Jane McGonigal given at Washington, D.C.’s Newseum as a presentation by AAM’s Center for the Future of Museums in 2009.  Jane McGonigal, PhD is a world-renowned designer of alternate reality games that are designed to improve real lives and solve real problems.

Find out about our consulting work with museums, or send us an email to find out more about how we can help your institution with audience development.


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