Immersive games for Museums as vehicles to Engage visitors in empathetic responses

Studies have found that museums and certain video games promote the development of empathy among their audiences, as immersion in the lives of others spurs understanding and sympathy towards the experiences of different groups. In museums, experts present historical eye-witness accounts alongside everyday items and places, increasing their significance as mementos of past atrocities and historical injustices. Such practices are also employed in the storytelling frameworks used in narrative-driven commercial games, particularly those exploring thought-provoking themes. However, while museums designed to educate and preserve the memory of historical events are recognised for their role in transitional justice initiatives, the potential of video games as digital cultural heritage and transitional justice tools remains unacknowledged and underexplored.

In this context, MEMENTOES aims to:

  • Combine the design philosophies of museum exhibitions with storytelling concepts used in video games to facilitate historical empathy through meaningful play.

  • Develop three digital games thoughtfully exploring different historical injustices, inspired by memories, eyewitness accounts, and personal items from museum collections while creating a framework for collaboration between museums and game developers.

  • Develop evidence on the efficacy of video games as tools to aid cultural institutions preserve and share memories of historical injustices and explore the parallels between past events and contemporary society.

The MEMENTOES games are designed through a co-design and co-creation process involving museum curators, technology providers, and game developers, which combines historical artefacts and stories with game mechanics and storytelling. The final games will be designed to educate players while still being entertaining and competitive on the commercial market.

With technological advances in the domains of high-quality digitisation, Artificial Intelligence (AI) for game production, Virtual Reality, and accessible interaction techniques, MEMENTOES will deliver unique and accessible gaming experiences.

In addition to technological proficiency, social science and humanities expertise is integral to the project’s objectives, especially the focus on museums’ contributions to memory studies and transitional justice. In addition, ethical monitoring ensures that the immersive and cutting-edge game experiences adhere to ethical and data protection principles.

The Games for Culture Cluster (GCC) is an initiative of the MEMENTOES project. The cluster aims to coordinate a network of EU projects working to provide evidence on the use of games to benefit society and increase their effectiveness as tools to promote learning, business development, social cohesion, and creativity. Partners aim to grow and strengthen the GCC’s presence in European research, even after the lifetime of the MEMENTOES project.