SciMyst (2007-2009)

Type: pervasive mobile quiz game

Purpose: engage and motivate festival visitors to explore the festival environment and learn about science

Place: SciFest science festival, Joensuu, Finland

Technologies: Client: J2ME, 2D barcodes; server: Java, PHP, MySQL.

Period: 2007-2009

Contributors: Ubium Oy, group of undergraduate students and Sie Expressions (graphic design).

scimyst2007_logoSciMyst is a pervasive mobile quiz game for scientific festival exploration. The game is suitable for all ages from juniors to seniors and it was first introduced during SciFest 2007 science festival held in Joensuu, Finland, where it received much positive attention from the visitors. The second public appearance took place at the SciFest 2008 where the game had a richer set of features and a live website. SciFest 2009 was thus far the last event when SciMyst was running.

The purpose of SciMyst is to engage and motivate the festival visitors to explore the environment in a novel, inspiring way. This could be considered an informal learning experience where the learner is in charge of the learning progress and where the learning process itself is disguised as an engaging game. In the game play, the players use their mobile devices to explore a real world game environment (e.g. a festival arena) by solving enigmas related to the surrounding objects and phenomena. Answers to the enigmas are typically found from the festival environment. There are several types of enigmas ranging from multiple-choice questions to take-a-picture tasks in which a player must locate a specific object based on given description and take a picture of a tag attached to it. If the player needs help with solving an enigma, he/she can contact other players through the multiplayer feature of the game. Figures below present game experiences from as well as screen shots from SciMyst. 2D barcodes were used to establish context-awareness.



The latest version of SciMyst has three modes: enigma solving mode, battle mode, and impression recording mode. In the enigma solving mode, the time for solving enigmas has not been restricted. On the other hand in the battle mode a player has only a predefined amount of time to use for solving as many enigmas as possible. Finally, in the impression recording mode a player can record pictures with comments which are published in real-time on the game website. In SciMyst 2008, the game website presented also an interactive “Battle against ignorance” in which points earned by players were compared with ignorance points which grew on hourly basis. This feature allowed non-players to observe the game status on any computer. In SciMyst 2009 the battle was against Black Hole.

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