2010 Horizon.museum Short List

2010 Horizon.museum Report Short List pdf

Time-to-Adoption Horizon: One Year or Less

Time-to-Adoption Horizon: Two to Three Years

Time-to-Adoption Horizon: Four to Five Years

Critical Challenges

Key Trends

Game-Based Learning

Time-to-Adoption: Two to Three Years
The interest in game-based learning has accelerated considerably in recent years, driven by clear successes in military and industrial training as well as by emerging research into the cognitive benefits of game play. Developers and researchers are working in every area of game-based learning, including games that are goal-oriented; social game environments; non-digital games that are easy to construct and play; games developed expressly for education; and commercial games that lend themselves to refining team and group skills. At the low end of game technology, there are literally thousands of ways games can be, and are being, applied in learning contexts. More complex approaches like role-playing, collaborative problem solving, and other forms of simulated experiences have broad applicability across a wide range of disciplines, and are beginning to be explored in more classrooms and other places where learning takes place. Skill-building games and small group games that foster discussion and teambuilding are not difficult to fit into existing curricula, and many examples of their use can be found. Their engaging nature makes them excellent learning aids. The category of game-based learning that is still two to three years away, but one that has tremendous potential to transform education, includes open-ended, challenge-based, truly collaborative games. Games like these, which occur in both massively multiplayer online (MMO) and non-digital forms, can draw on skills for research, writing, collaboration, problem-solving, public speaking, leadership, digital literacy, and media-making.

Relevance for Museum Education and Interpretation

  • Game-based learning leverages the physical and virtual nature of collections and provides opportunities for understanding context.
  • Museums can use game-based learning to establish dialogue, to introduce complex or controversial topics, and to break down social and cultural boundaries.
  • Game-based learning presents a new opportunity for museums to partner with schools, and blurs the distinction between formal and informal learning.


  • “Ghosts of a Chance” allows visitors to the Smithsonian American Art Museum a chance to decipher codes, follow treasure maps, send text messages, and uncover hidden objects in this multimedia scavenger hunt: http://ghostsofachance.com/
  • World without Oil is a collaborative imagining of the first 32 weeks of a global oil crisis: http://worldwithoutoil.org/

For Further Reading

Deep Learning Properties of Good Digital Games: How Far Can They Go?
(James Paul Gee, Arizona State University, January 2009.) This study by noted educational gaming researcher James Paul Gee discusses the merits of good digital games and their design along with the learning that can accompany them.

Gaming Can Change the World (video)
(Jane McGonigal, Institute for the Future, 2010.) This TED talk advocates incorporating principles of game design into the real world to effect social change.