3rd International Conference

Digital Culture & AudioVisual Challenges

Interdisciplinary Creativity in Arts and Technology

Online, May 28-29, 2021

Museums in videogames: do we need a guidebook? The case of the museum guidebook of the Leydecher Museum, Dagger of Ammon Ra 1992.
Date and Time: 28/05/2021 (15:45-17:50)
Aristoteles Georgios Sakellariou, Georgios Papaioannou

The aim of this paper is to address the content, the purpose and the role(s) for the creation of a museum guidebook for a museum, namely the Leydecher Museum, which was created only for the videogame of Dagger of Ammon Ra 1992. Our methodology includes literature review and content analysis as part of the museum guidebook presentation. This work is part of the research project Museum Representations in Popular Videogames, run by the Museology Lab of the Ionian University, discovering about 100 videogames that contain at least one museum setting. This gave us the opportunity to examine each game thoroughly, in terms of museum buildings, exhibitions, collections, museum brochures and guidebooks.

Real museums nowadays are expected to have their official printed (or electronic) guide- therefore, why not the digital ones? Eventually, despite a number of museum brochures that we encounter within games (e.g. Shivers 1995, Temujin 1997) we came across the unique full and comprehensive museum guide of the imaginary Leyedecker Museum at the Dagger of Amon Ra, 1992.

Within its 57 pages, the third edition of the Leyendecker Museum Guide starts with the PRESIDENT’S WELCOME introduction, who invites visitors to leave the hustle of New York City and make a ‘giant leap’ back in time. The first chapter narrates the museum’s history as an institution and as a building. The second chapter presents the museum’s current research. THE TEMPLE OF AMON RA follows, is a chapter related to the story of the videogame and how the Dagger was found. The following five chapters present the galleries and their exhibits. The final chapters include advice for access to the museum and credits to the people who contributed to the videogame. The guide ends with the sentence: “If you’ve enjoyed this game, and want to read further on the topics [presented], we recommend the following books, many of which should be available at your local Public Library” (p.55).

The guide does not contribute directly towards the plot of the game, nor it helps gamers to advance in the game by, e.g., solving puzzles or other game activities. This opposes to the museum brochures found for other games, were in fact they serve game-related purposes. The Leyendecker Guide is purely an extra read towards better understanding of the institution, its work and its exhibits. It is a ‘mocumentary-type’ museum guidebook, as it is for a museum that does not exist. It seems to belong into the tradition of videogame companies of the 1990ies, such as Sierra’s, to offer extra game-related material with their videogames, such as further readings or audio files.

In conclusion, it seems that questions for further research arise. Creating a detailed museum guidebook of real-museum quality requires effort and resources. In our case, we have a detailed real-museum guidebook quality which is not linked to the gameplay. What would, therefore, be the purpose for its creation? Who would order and write a guidebook for a museum that exist only in a videogame? What its audience(s) would be? Would this reality be an opportunity towards connecting museology and game science? Future research will hopefully provide further answers and insights.


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