Students develop games for the Hermitage Amsterdam

23 Jun 2020 13:59 | Centre for Applied Research FDMCI

Students of the Communication and Multimedia Design programme (CMD) at the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences (AUAS) recently wrapped up a very successful project in collaboration with the renowned Hermitage Amsterdam. Some 24 students developed several games within a short period of time to inform students about the upcoming exhibition Tsars & Knights, which will open in the beautiful museum in the autumn. The games are part of the students’ final assignment in the Applied Game Design minor and mark a unique achievement during these very unusual times.

A nice counterbalance

Distance learning and teaching have been challenging for both students and lecturers. Fortunately, there have also been positive effects at the AUAS. In the Applied Game Design minor at CMD, for example, where students completed a fantastic final project in a short period of time. Every year, third-year students carry out a practical assignment, which prepares them for their internship and graduation in the following year by teaching them what it’s like to work for a real client. This year’s project was at the Hermitage Amsterdam.

Designing for school pupils

This autumn, the Hermitage will present the unique exhibition ‘Tsars and Knights’ featuring pieces from the museum’s world-famous medieval art collection and the Arsenal. It will be an amazing tale of knights and ladies, of courtly love and of chivalric tournaments, appealing to the imagination with centuries-old showpieces, such as suits of armour and weapons. In order to teach primary school pupils (ages 10-12) a little more about the exhibition in a fun way before they visit the museum, the Hermitage has asked the students to develop small computer games focusing on pieces from the exhibition.

Student Marc Kunst: “It was really nice to be able to work for a real client in spite of the quarantine.” Of course, everything took place online, from the consultations with the educational department of the Hermitage, to the meetings between students and their final presentations, and all within a time frame of four weeks. “Creating a game in just a month is quite a challenge, especially when you consider that the first week is spent mainly on concept development and research. I was lucky to have a very nice team to work with, and it was a lot of fun designing for this target group; children of that age sometimes react differently than you expect them to,” says Marc.

Example of good teamwork

Mirjam Vosmeer, researcher in the Play & Civic Media research group of the AUAS and associated with the minor as a lecturer/coach, reflects on a special project: “It was such an interesting process because everyone involved had to work together in a new way. Nevertheless, the students had no problem connecting with each other. It’s amazing to see what they came up with while locked away with their parents or in their student rooms.” Mirjam is also enthusiastic about working with the famous museum. “It was the first time we worked with the Hermitage for this minor, and it went remarkably smoothly. We’ve already talked about arranging a ‘reunion’ with the whole group when the exhibition opens, because now everyone wants to see those beautiful pieces for themselves.”

New opportunities for the Hermitage

The Hermitage is also pleased with the students’ work and sees it as an educational project that has provided new insights and inspiration. Wieke van Veggel, Education Coordinator at the Hermitage: “I am impressed by how the students immersed themselves in the story, the objects, the design and the target group. All of the games contained recognisable elements that we can use. It also reinforces our feeling that this exhibition fits in well with the wishes of this target group. That creates real opportunities! Games like these contribute to this and the result has really inspired us!”