Category Archives: Gaming

Racing Machines


Anyone for interactive pong, racing sewing machines, or dodging bullets from giant robots? Well it’ll all be possible soon because next month we’re teaming up with Trigger to host our first ever live gaming festival – PLAYER.

Racing Machines

Racing Machines

We’ll get you moving, inventing, interacting and networking digitally and physically in these real-life games – no hiding behind your game console here…

There will be games for adults and for kids – everything from taking part in a text adventure through the brain, finding the perfect love match on a life-sized love calculator or racing a pimped-up sewing machine around a paper track.

Alongside this we will also run our first ever Games Jam – a day-long event for gaming enthusiasts and theatrical types to develop a range of games inspired by our galleries. These new games will then be developed and play-tested over the weekend in a live gaming competition.

Check the festival page on our website for details of the games. There’s a sneaky taster below and you can follow us on Twitter and Facebook to stay up to date on the latest news.

Player Poster

Interactive Pong by Paul Maguire

One of the earliest 80’s video games, based on table tennis, will be projected onto the floor. Passers-by are heat sensored and will be able to kick and move the ball around.

Custom Avatar by James Houston, Winner of Scottish Bafter New Talent Award 2009

Looks like a normal video arcade game that you would find in the corner of a pub, but when you move the joystick, you realise you are moving a human avatar through the space of the museum.

Take me to your scientists (Ticketed midnight event)

Holly Gramazio, of acclaimed company Hide and Seek are inventing a game that runs in the closed museum for 100 players. The game will run up until the stroke of midnight, if the players make it that far…

The Interplanetary Postbox by Ordinary Adventures

Inspired by space travel and our need for a postal system, this is a reworking of a classic space game that asks the visitor to think about future communications. A computerised post box using magnets and cogs.

See you on the 28th of September!

People mixing up their bath bombs

Chemistry Lates

Chemistry was the key to this month’s Lates – the chemistry of bath products, warfare, alcohol and even luuurve…

As well as all the talks and tours (cockroaches included) you could make elemental fridge magnets and bath bombs to take home. The bath bombs looked like pink/green/blue porridge to start with, but looked much more appealing after they’d started to set.  

Elsewhere there were people wandering around clutching huge bubbles full of cloudy carbon dioxide or throwing crazy shapes in the Space gallery to the music that only they could hear. You meet all sorts at Lates…

Check out Patu Tinfinger’s beautiful pictures of the evening: 

We also had a little experiment with a smartphone app called SCVNGR that gives you points for completing challenges and even lets you set challenges for other people to complete – read my earlier post for details.

After a rough count and excluding a couple of staff members, 30 people used the app and completed around 70 challenges.

We had some really nice responses – great pics of people performing loud moves in the silent disco and some thoughtful / funny responses to the ‘Object of Desire’ challenge. Most picked their favourite Museum object and explained why they love it, but someone took a picture of a bottle of beer and one guy rather sweetly took a picture of lovely lady who I suspect is his girlfriend. Now that’s chemistry in action…

I think there would have been more activity if there wasn’t already so much to do at Lates. It seemed the perfect testing ground but maybe the app is better suited to spicing up a regular daytime visit to the Museum when there isn’t quite so much going on.

The other issue was that we were trying to encourage people to create their own challenges – something that very few people did. But there’s still time…

You can use SCVNGR whenever you come to the Museum, so next time you’re here have a little play, and - if inspiration strikes – leave a challenge to inspire everyone who comes after you.

Object of Desire challenge on SCVNGR app

Gaming the Museum

Here at the Science Museum we like to play games.

Our galleries are full of things to play with, both physical and digital. In Launchpad there are contraptions where you can build up pressure to fire a rocket, multi-player mechanical games with levers and pulleys and a rotation station that spins you like an ice-skater.

Over the years we’ve also created lots of free online games, from the physics-based blockbuster Launchball to cute Thingdom and challenging Rizk. Plus, in October we’re going to hold a live gaming festival in association with Trigger. More details on that one in good time…

We’re also interested in how we can make the experience of visiting the Museum a bit more playful on a day to day basis.

One of the things that we’ve been looking at is a mobile app that promises to create a game layer over the real world. SCVNGR encourages you to complete challenges associated with places (in this case the Science Museum) in order to get points.

There are a bunch of pre-set challenges for every place – take a picture, leave a comment, check in on your own or with friends. But you can also create your own challenges, which is what we’re going to ask you to do at Lates on Wednesday.

I’ve already set up one to get us started – ‘Object of Desire’ asks you to take a picture of your favourite object in the Museum and tell the world why you love it.

Object of Desire challenge on SCVNGR app

Object of Desire challenge on SCVNGR app

But now it’s over to you and we’re really excited to see what challenges you come up with. They can test people’s knowledge, get them to look really hard at our collections or they can just encourage some scientific silliness. It is Lates after all…

To get involved you’ll need a smart phone running the free SCVNGR app. It’s available for iPhones and Android phones.