Written by Jake Cassels, Project Director:
The Future Games Contest, run by IC Tomorrow with funding from Abertay University, aimed to address challenges faced by Tate Britain, by stimulating gaming solutions from the burgeoning start-up community.
Tate’s challenges were particularly appealing to The Connected Set, a specialist in entertainment formats across multiple and converging platforms. We recognised how the most successful cultural institutions have always embraced emerging technologies to remain relevant and we wanted to transfer the success we’ve had developing entertainment format for TV and online into a cultural space.
Tate Britain had a unique challenge. The gallery has a huge following on its social media channels, but there was a disconnect between that community and engagement with the physical gallery. In addition, Tate needed to find ways to monetise this community to help support their work, in a climate where government arts funding is disappearing.
The Connected Set proposed a so-lo-mo game with a difference – Tate Britain QuizTrail, could be played in the physical space of the gallery but also at home, unlike any of the other apps developed by Tate. Players would share their experience with Tate’s huge social media channels as they ‘checked-in’ at art works and unlocked prizes for answering questions. This activity was aimed to inspire those engaged only with social media channels to physically visit the gallery. The prizes we proposed were discounts from the gallery shop, which would serve to drive revenues. We suggested the ability to share these discounts via Facebook to further monetise the social media channels and drive awareness of the online shop.
This proposal was accepted by Tate Britain, but we soon learned that there were further challenges we needed to overcome.
Firstly, for the game to be successful in the gallery, we needed to include a mechanic that allowed players to locate artworks and find their way easily around the gallery. As the gallery is a relatively small space and all the artworks are inside, we could not rely on mobile GPS. Our research into Wi-Fi triangulation fell flat when we discovered Tate Britain didn’t have a public Wi-Fi network. The configuration of the gallery makes it very hard to install efficiently. Ultimately, we relied on a gallery map where the location of the artwork was pulled from coordinates entered in our content management back end. Although this solution seemed fairly basic, it worked and covered the eventuality of artworks moving, which we learnt fast happened frequently at Tate Britain.
The next challenge concerned the sharing of prizes. Our initial proposal suggested that all prizes could be shared on each player’s Facebook wall to develop a new customer base for Tate’s Online Shop. However, Tate was concerned that by blanket sharing the prize there was a risk that a high number of redemptions may eat into the margins on their merchandise. We were delighted at Tate’s confidence in the effectiveness of our game, but now faced a more time on research and development.
We needed to find a solution that enabled players to share their prizes with selected friends privately rather than an open Facebook wall post. As the player’s own discount increased when the prize was shared, it was important that we could confirm that the sharing had taken place.
We decided that the other means of sharing (Twitter, E-mail and SMS) weren’t as reliable as Facebook at confirming that sharing had taken place with a ‘real-life’ contact rather than firstname.lastname@example.org. Therefore, we needed a solution to share discount codes privately with Facebook friends. This was a challenge that we pondered for some time, considering if Facebook allowed a private message to friends from this kind of game (it didn’t) and whether there was a way to limit the reach of a wall post (there wasn’t).
We concluded that to achieve this, we needed to build a bespoke Facebook app for Tate Britain QuizTrail. Having completed a game, players of Tate Britain QuizTrail would send an app request to friends. Once the app request was confirmed and the app installed, the player’s friend would receive their discount code. In the meantime, the side benefit for Tate was a further opportunity to collect data and the chance to increase the number of ‘likes’ for their online shop page. Users needed to ‘like’ that Facebook page before retrieving their voucher.
Although this process was more complicated, time consuming and costly to achieve than our initial proposal, it did provide The Connected Set with some really useful new practical experience of Facebook. Our research suggests that this kind of Facebook app would be useful when we market a white label version of Tate Britain QuizTrail to other cultural institutions and may even broaden the scope of our market – something that is requisite to the funding from Abertay.
It’s now four weeks since we launched the game and Tate Britain QuizTrail peaked at number 1 in ‘New and Noteworthy’ on the app store and in the educational games top 10. Anecdotal and press response we’ve had to the game in general proves that it works as a way to engage Tate’s communities online, at home and in the gallery.
The team at Tate are certainly pleased with the result. Debi Cohen, Online Shop Manager, Tate Enterprises said: “QuizTrail is a great way to drive traffic to our online shop through recommendations and voucher codes which let players find their perfect memento of their trail at Tate Britain.”
The experience gained from the ICTomorrow ‘Future Games Contest’ has been invaluable for The Connected Set. It has opened up opportunities to work in new fields and consolidated our reputation with our existing clients and partners. We’re already in conversations with a number of museums and galleries in the UK, US and Europe and we have been briefed to produce related digital applications and prototypes for our broadcast partners.
To see what we developed you can download the Tate Britain QuizTrail for free from iTunes here.