The SFMOMA AR Game Jam

Sarah Brin, Erica Gangsei

Research output: Contribution to conference - NOT published in proceeding or journalConference abstract for conferenceResearchpeer-review


In the Summer of 2016, Pokémon Go precipitated a surge of new play experiences in museums. Cultural heritage institutions across disciplines were confronted with the sudden ubiquity of augmented reality (AR). Some museums enthusiastically integrated Pokémon into their programs, while some grappled with the dissonance between ludic experiences and exhibition content. But post-Pokémon, what could AR mean to museums? In this paper we document our findings derived from an experimental AR game jam conducted in collaboration with 15 multidisciplinary creatives at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA). Rather than commission a single, costly AR project, the game jam was an experiment in seeing what kinds of experiences emerge when a collection of artists, technologists, and designers gather for two weekends of rapidprototyping. These makers pushed the limits of current-day AR technology to ask several questions: Can AR be used to create a meaningful interpretive layer on existing artwork? Or is it better used in the creation of stand-alone artwork within the walls of the museum? And what effects do AR experiences have on a museum visit, both for visitors who choose to engage and visitors who prefer their visit device-free? While organizations like the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Getty Museum have organized game jams, there are limited resources for museums looking to replicate or modify this form of collaborative content generation. This paper presents the SFMOMA AR game jam as a case study - it outlines the design of this project in consultation with interdepartmental stakeholders and technology partners, and provides key takeaways regarding the situational (not technical) implications of AR implementation in art museums. Ultimately, our findings were mixed. While the technology afforded new modes for audiences to connect with the museum, it presented an array of technical, logistical, and ethical challenges. Bibliography: Laura Southall. “The V&A Games Jam.” Blog. Victoria and Albert Museum, November 22, 2013. Val Tate, and Rebecca Edwards. “Night at the Museum: The 2016 Getty/USC Game Jam.” Blog. The Getty Iris, March 31, 2016.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2018
Publication statusPublished - 2018
EventCultures of Participation : Arts, Digital Media and Politics - Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark
Duration: 18 Apr 201820 Apr 2018


ConferenceCultures of Participation
LocationAarhus University
Internet address


  • games,
  • augmented reality
  • game jams
  • games in museums


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