Over the last year we have been developing Total Darkness with the aim of creating an experience that can have a positive impact on people’s attitudes towards STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths), as well as having a focus on self-reflection, rather than asking players to recall specific facts or concepts.
Total Darkness has been shaped and informed by research into science capital and the Science Museum Group’s approach to informal science learning. It is a digital storytelling experience which encourages young people to recognise how the skills they use every day relate to STEM and can help them develop their confidence in science thinking.
Created in partnership with Bristol-based design agency Thought Den, the game invites the player to solve a mysterious power cut in their hometown. The game puts players in control, allowing their choices and decisions to guide them through the story.
As the player navigates through the darkened streets of the town, armed only with a torch, they will face various challenges, from lost pets to melting ice cream. Using their curiosity, communication skills and creative problem solving they will discover new theories about what might have caused the blackout.
But with every step their torch fades, and the player must solve the mystery before the battery runs out. There are five theories to find and disprove in order to solve the power outage and win the game.
The player’s choices and actions throughout the game will score them curiosity, creativity or communication points. At the end, the skills the player has used will be revealed along with their science style, showing how they could put their skills into action in the real world.
Total Darkness is aimed at 7-13 year-olds – an important stage in children’s science development. Research shows that as children make the step between primary and secondary, many move away from an interest in science as other influences have a stronger pull in their lives.
We hope that this game can be one factor that helps positively influence their relationship with STEM subjects – enabling them to see it as something that can play an important role in their future.