Saturday, September 30, 2006

Our babies have come home

No the girls haven't been away, Daughter the Younger has never spent the night away from us, I am actually talking about the fact that the games we had on exhibit at the Melbourne Museum have come back home after a month. We have really missed some of them! Now if both the girls went away for a day or two we would miss them too and probably say the same thing.

Some of them weren't really missed that much, in fact a couple of them haven't even been played yet, but with many of them not having them in the house for a whole month we were definitely starting to miss them. For me this was especially the case for some of the games that were set up on display, but we couldn't touch them or play them. This was particularly so with Power Grid and Age of Steam since the expansions were sitting at home to be looked at and touched but we couldn't play them because the base game was at the museum.

This will go into a GeekList one day, but here is what we had on display, starting form the entrance of the exhibit and walking around through it.

Blokus (which was on a fair dinkum shop display stand which was lent to us by the Australian distributors),

Big display cabinet

Set up: Dicke Luft in der Gruft, Die Nacht die Magier, Plus & Minus, Frank's Zoo
Boxed: Mammia Mia, Gargon, Coloretto, Gang of Four, 6 Nimmt!, Wallenstein, Vinci, Ra, Princes of Florence, Puerto Rico, Saint Petersberg, Brittania, Civilization, Tigris & Euphrates, Goa, Turn & Taxis, Attika and Amun-Re.

Big Display Case One
- Games that are good to look at
Set up: Power Grid and Big City.

Big Display Case Two - The Train Games
Set Up: Union Pacific and Age of Steam
Boxed: Ticket to Ride, 1830, Lunar Rails, The London Game

Big Display Case Three
- Settlers
Set Up: Settlers of Catan
Boxed: Settlers of Catan the Card Game, Seafarers of Catan, Cities and Knights of Catan, The Starfarers fo Catan, Settlers of the Stone Age and Die Siedler von N├╝rnberg

Small Display Case - Pretty games
Set Up: Tier auf Tier, Sheer Panic and Hameln (pieces only)

On the Wall:
Sunda to Sahul and Shadows Over Camelot

The Hameln pieces were very kindly supplied to us by Fragor Games when we mentioned to them that we were displaying Shear Panic at the museum (we pre-ordered Shear Panic last year and managed to pre-order Hameln whilst there were still some left). Gordon and Fraser also lent us their Shear Panic sign which we put up behind the display case.

Since a reasonable percentage of our games were now under lock and key this reduced what we had left for demonstration purposes. We would like to thank Caterpillar Games, Ventura Games, Divide By Zero and Even Toys and Games for supply or lending us demonstration copies.

We ran demonstration sessions from 11-3 every Saturday and Sunday and also on Tuesdays and Thursdays for the last two weeks, which coincided with Victorian school holidays, a total of twelve sessions in all. A very big thanks to those who came in to help with the demonstrations sessions. Take a bow Kim, Vince, Doug, Gregor, Diana, Duncan, Francis, Giles, Kylie, Richard, Daughter the Elder, Daughter the Younger and Justine.

The games that we demonstrated, in the order the I wrote them down, were:
Make 'n Break, Blink, Carcassonne, Catch the Match, Halli Galli, I Have..., Apples to Apples, Apples to Apple Junior, Pick Picknic, Itchy & Scratchy, The Same Game, Settlers of Catan, Ticket to Ride, Sequence, Piggy Back, Spooky Stairs, Trans America, Othello, Sunda to Sahul, Cartegena, Gang of Four, Guillotine, Sherlock, Marrakesh, Tier Auf Tier, Number Chase and Snorta.

Teaching games at the museum was very different to other places we have taught games. At home, you know your audience and you pretty much have all the time you want. At a games club it is generally pretty much the same, plus you are usually teaching gamers. At the games night we ran at Daughter the Elder's school we didn't know how involved with games people were, but at least we knew they had chosen to come to a games night and we had quite a few hours of their time. At the museum some people were just doing the rounds and weren't interested in stopping, some people could stay a few minutes, some for a while and some for an hour or more. The level of games knowledge varied from which-one-is-Monopoly? to some people who had a few of the games on display or demo. The experience with games was very wide too, ranging from school aged children who didn't have any idea of taking turns and playing cards face up to others that could jump straight into games with minimal explanation. It reinforced to me that exposure to games really helps children learn games in general and also, depending on the game, things like mathematical skills etc. They also just pick up new games much more quickly too. I was quite surprised to see that Daughter the Younger had watched a few games of Marrakesh at home and at the museum and knew how to play it, without having been actively involved in a game or being taught it.

Sinice most of the people were just passing through and most of the people interested in playing were children the games that got the most play were children's games and/or games that can be explained in a few minutes. Some of the most popular included Make 'n Break, Spooky Stairs, Blink, Catch the Match, Tier auf Tier, Snorta and Piggy Back. A friend of ours who works in a games shop told us that the Australian distributor for Make'n Break was out of stock - very unwise, I believe that could have set up a pallet load outside the museum and sold them all without any problem at all. I think that the museum shop also missed an opportunity by not stocking any of the games that we were demonstrating.

I am sure that Daughter the Younger will be most peeved the next time we go to the museum and she doesn't get to play games for four straight hours!

We got nice comments from lots of the people who stopped to play and very good feedback from a lot of the museum staff too. We also received this email a few days ago "Just a note to say thanks for playing games at the melbourne museum over the holidays.My children had a great time and it inspired us to spend a bit more time together.I was able to locate 3 of the games at my local Games World , Catch the Match,Blink and Apples to Apples. As I said to the girl there I would never have bought them if I had not played them so thanks for the incentive. Great concept and I think all games stores should have some of these great mind using games out to play."

It was a busy, busy month, but well worth it. Now to find some spare time now that the babies have come home...


Gerald McD said...

Excellent report! All of you (all four of you) did a great job. It appears that you have certainly added a number of people to the world's set of game players and introduced them to some wonderful games. You deserve all the congratulations and thanks that come your way.

I'll bet this won't be the last time you are asked to do this, at the museum, school, and elsewhere. What a neat community service you are providing.

Your list of games set up, displayed, and demoed was excellent.

My hat is off to all of you!

Anonymous said...

You and Melissa did a great job Fraser! The exhibition itself was excellent, but the icing on the cake was the demoing of games!

Well done! - it was certainly a hefty commitment, and you did a fantastic job pulling it off so successfully!