Museums and the Web

An annual conference exploring the social, cultural, design, technological, economic, and organizational issues of culture, science and heritage on-line.

You are hereMW / QiGame


Tropenmuseum Junior

 QiGame, an innovative experiment

Tropenmuseum Junior (TMJ) is an ethnographic museum for children aged 6-13.  We are not content with merely presenting a material collection.  Subjects come to life because children take an active part in our exhibitions.  Experience has convinced us that this is the best way for children to learn about other cultures and countries.  Our current exhibition is about the Qi of China. Qi (pronounced 'chi') is Chinese for life force, or breath of life. In this interactive, hands-on exhibition, children can build-up their own Qi and let it flow during special China tours where they can participate in a range of activities including cooking (working in a restaurant), kung fu, karaoke, calligraphy, or by making umbrellas and terracotta soldiers. 

The experiment

TMJ decided for the first time in Dutch history to develop an online game in connection with an exhibition. TMJ wants to explore the possibilities of new media and find out what they can bring to its museum programme. TMJ produced interactive sites before, but realized that children were especially interested in computer games. Since the field of serious games is expanding and an increasing number of children have access to well-equipped computers, TMJ decided to take the plunge and develop a narrative game concept.   

  An online game as extension of the exhibition space

TMJ thinks a museum can reach more people by expanding its message online. The target group of ‘China’s Qi’ is children between 6 and 13. Online gaming is a popular way of spending time for this group, and you have to reach young people in their comfort zones. A game also fits in well with the country in the exhibition: China has the most online gamers in the world. The challenge for TMJ was to go into the online arena with a serious game that is appealing to children. In this way, the web can become an extension of our limited exhibition space (350 m2).

QiGame, rich in content and challenging to play

TMJ made an online game that surpasses the games children normally play online. The QiGame has a great design that opens full screen, a story that is based on two years of research and it teaches you a lot about Chinese culture. Since children are growing up in a world more and more influenced by China, this is useful knowledge. We wanted the game to be an exciting experience filled with both amusement and information.

Use of Social Media

The QiGame is available online and everybody can play for free. TMJ also set up a media partnership with Hyves, thereby connecting the game to the largest Dutch social network. This allows children to play the QiGame within their own familiar surroundings, thus achieving one of the main aims of the game: to make the content of the exhibition accessible to more people than TMJ can ever reach within the limited exhibition space.

QiGame and Exhibition

In both the QiGame and the exhibition children are introduced to the Chinese dragon, eat at round tables, write Chinese characters, make kung fu moves, learn about Chinese medicine and much more. We knew that the connection between the exhibition and the game had been achieved when the designer of the QiGame entered the exhibition space for the first time and said: ‘Hey, this restaurant is just like the restaurant I designed for the QiGame…’


Content QiGame

The Chinese dragon has lost its pearl and, as a result, its energy. Who can collect enough Chinese Qi to bring them both back into life? That's your mission in the QiGame.
The gamer has to go to Chinatown and play several games in order to gather Qi points. In the beginning, Chinatown is dark because there is no Qi flowing. There are five ways to collect Qi points. The gamer can play the kung fu game, the calligraphy game, the acupuncture game, the restaurant game and can score Qi bonus points with a Qi-jump-clip. This Qi jump can only be done by visiting the exhibition.
Every game is introduced by a short movie of the kung fu master of Chinatown. In these short stories children are introduced to the rules of each game and they learn what the  connection is between the game and the concept of Qi.
If you finish a game successfully, that part of town will brighten and the pearl will be filled with a bit more Qi. Eventually the whole of Chinatown should be full of Qi and the gamer can play the final game: flying with the dragon and the pearl. Once that is done, harmony and balance will return and Qi will flow everywhere.

Nominated By: