Inspired by asymmetrical board and party games, we wanted to encourage the museum community to look at works of art in new ways, discover parts of the museum they've never seen before, and share language about the pieces with others.

What it does

In Vibes, players write and solve clues about works of art they find in the museum. If everyone solves your clue, you won’t score. If nobody solves, you won’t score. The challenge is describing a work in a way that's neither too obvious, nor too vague.

How we built it

Vibes was written in Swift for the iOS platform. I created a back-end using the service Contentful, a content management system to oversee and store vibe objects. The API interactions, and image downloading, are handled with the library AlamoFire. CoreBluetooth was used for iBeacon interactions.

Challenges we ran into

For copyright reasons many galleries aren't fully covered by the data in museum's API. ! had to work around the data set and find elegant ways to build consistency in play without designing towards edge cases. Slow network times on 3G were compounded by API bottlenecks, but I resolved these issues with a cleaned up local json file. With the right endpt interaction (i.e. small endpt responses like thumbnail URLs and object uuid info), or even just faster downloads(i.e. caching request results for faster repeat requests), then this could easily be reconfigured for API interaction.

Accomplishments that we're proud of

With a few blind playtesting sessions we were able to see the game's fun factor in action. Clue writing became curiously addictive for some, while others liked to puzzle & solve. Everyone's art engagement increased, and people were having fun while it happened.

We are proud to have created a professional app with a clean user-experience, and an elegant aesthetic. It is colorful yet does not impose on the beautiful art it displays.

What we learned

Making a game design that focuses on the out-of-phone experience was a unique constraint. By de-emphasizing interactive elements and promoting cleverness of language, our game is played in your head while wandering, much less than on the phone itself. This lesson in design was a thrilling challenge, and a fun way to break new creative ground.

What's next for Vibes

With most of the second floor of the PMA live on Vibes now, there’s potential to easily expand into the rest of the museum, and even into other branches.

We're also looking forward to adding even more features to the game, including text animation, a player presence leader board, and even a season system to rotate new vibes in and out of the space over time.

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