Color Crush Digital-Physical Gaming in a Science Museum

Speaker: Jungu Guo, Museum of Science & Industry

Color Crush is a digital-meets-physical interactive installation developed in-house for a temporary gaming exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry Chicago (MSI), spanning from fall 2019 to March 2020. It reinterprets and reimagines an ensemble of classic games: Connect Four, Arcade Basketball, and Candy Crush, allowing multiple players to throw tangible colored balls “into” a virtual gaming world — a game that blurs the boundary between the physical and digital, resulting in a whimsical and communal play experience.

This presentation walks through the behind-the-science stories of developing Color Crush, reflects upon its design process and challenges encountered, and shares valuable lessons learned from designing, prototyping, and iterating a digital-physical game from the perspective of an in-house creative technologist. The effective adoption of the iterative game design methodology combined with close internal cross departmental collaboration led to an innovative game that not only fulfilled project experiential goals but also provided welcoming and engaging experiences for guests.

Captivating and technically demanding exhibits are not and should not be out of reach for science museums. This paper attests to the possibility of seamlessly delivering a meaningful and impactful play experience from scratch in a science museum. By embracing creative technology as an expressive interpretive medium and espousing a guest-centered design philosophy, science museums can truly lend themselves to a future of transformative possibilities