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Meet Me at Midnight
May 4, 2006


Kids' Mystery Site: Meet Me at Midnight

Meet Me at Midnight, a new art game for kids (midnight.si.edu)

Today we are launching Meet Me at Midnight, an interactive art mystery Web site for kids. It's perfect for eight- to ten-year-olds and is meant to be a fun intro to visiting the museum and seeing some cool artwork. Of course, we hope to teach a little something along the way.

A junior reviewer, L.G., age 9, was an early beta tester. Now that the site is complete, she offers her opinion:

Meet Me at Midnight is a Web game where you travel on an expedition to return a piece of artwork back were it belongs.  You play art games to find clues on where the artwork should be.  Meet Me at Midnight also teaches about the different types of art.   

It all starts with a class field trip to SAAM. One of the students sees a piece of artwork called the "Root Monster."  The sculpture starts to wink at the student.  The student is startled and he catches up with the group.  Then one of the security guards stops him and says that he dropped a paper out of his backpack.  When the student reads it, it says "Meet Me at Midnight." Later that night, after he goes to bed, he remembers the note and the Root Monster winking. 

Suddenly, the student finds himself back at the museum.  He sees the Root Monster carrying a chest. The Root Monster is so startled he drops the chest and runs off.  You open the chest and see three things: a ballerina, a headless horseman and a coyote.  Choose one of the artworks and your job is to bring it back to its home.  On your way you play and learn about art.  There are clues to help you find the artwork's place in the museum.

See if you can save the artwork before the Root Monster takes it!  Do you think you are an art master?  Try it and see what happens. 

So, are you up for it?

Posted by Jeff on May 4, 2006 in Museums & Technology


Comments

Meet me at Midnight is great, except for this line: "I wouldn't be caught in the city at midnight!" What's wrong with the city at midnight? When he/she arrives at midnight, he/she goes in the museum because it might be "safer inside". That's silly. I live a few blocks from SAAM and there's nothing scary about the corner of 8th & F, even at midnight. Imagine how children react. The language implies that people in DC are not really part of the museum's audience. Oh, yes, and suburbanites should stay away because it's so dangerous.

Thanks for the comment Andrew. I think your point has merit and we'll definitely evaluate this text when we go in for an edit.

One thing to keep in mind is that for the site's intended audience of 8-to-10 year olds, lots of places are scary at midnight (speaking as a parent, that's long after bed time). You may be reassured to know that the direct feedback we're getting from kids tells us that the site makes them want to come downtown to see the museum.

I found out about Meet Me at Midnight in The Saturday Star in a section about going back to school. Because I know how hard it is to snap back to all the things you know, but forgot, I browsed the addresses and decided to try this one. It was a good game, but even for 8-10 year olds, I think all the repetitions of "_______ is a powerful word" made it kind of silly. Other than the repetitious dialogue, it was a good game to get back in 'school mode' with!

I had the same reaction as Andrew to the "I wouldn't be caught in the city at midnight." A lot of kids are always in the city at midnight because they live there. A better line might be "I would be scared to be in the museum at midnight" or "I wouldn't be caught out of my bed at midnight" or "away from home at midnight." It immediately made me feel alienated as I played the game.

In general, the character of the kid is so nicely anonymous, allowing children to project themselves onto it--no discernible sex, ethnicity, etc.--and that particular bit of dialogue really stood out.

Thanks Jennifer for your comment. As I did with Andrew, I have passed your comment on to our developers.

What I liked about this site:

I liked that the Root Monster was scary, that it took a lot of time, and that the selected artwork was beautiful. I think it was really cool and I would play it again.

What I think would make it better:

If there were more things in the chest to pick from (there were only three, which means I can only play three times before I know all the answers) or different kinds of activities (there were only scramble puzzles and identify the artist multiple choice -Ed.), it would be even more fun. Also, there was too much telling me stuff (the opening had lots of frames with narrative - Ed.) and I wanted to get to the story and clues faster. I didn't understand the difference between the magic words (Ohio, Hassam, etc. - Ed.) and the clues (Media, Technique, etc.).

Thanks so much, Jay, for checking out our Web site and posting your ideas. Glad to hear you'd like to see more characters and adventures. We hope to add more in the future. We will also make a note of your comments about clues and codes (magic words). If you leave in the middle of an adventure, codes can help you skip the introduction and pick up where you left off. Thanks again for your feedback!

I also did not like the line regarding being in the city at midnight. As another pointed out, some of us live in the city day and night. Several good alternatives have been suggested. How long will it take to make this change?

Heidi, thanks for your comment. As I mentioned in an earlier comment we've learned that the site actually makes them want to come downtown.

That being said, when we next re-evaluate the site we will take your feedback into consideration. Thanks!

Everyone, based on your feedback we took another look at the site and made some changes to some of the text. Thanks.

I am an elementary school teacher and loved your site! The only improvement I would suggest would be to have the text read out loud. There are many students that would benefit from it, but are not good readers. This would help them connect letters and words to sounds.

Thanks for all the hard work!

I loved the headless horseman the best. His repeated attempts to scare things by yelling "Booo!" just kept getting funnier. The root monster was also a lot of fun. Great job!

I think all the worrying people put into the line about being scared to be out at midnight is silly. As a child I was very scared of the dark and it made sense to me that a kid would not want to be out by themselves, away from home at midnight. Sometimes I get spooked wandering around after dark still and I'm 32. It has nothing to do with the neighborhood or perceived safety. It simply boils down to the reduced vision that goes along with night time, it's creepy.

I agree with the person that said it would be nice to see more characters and adventures in the future. I recommended this site to all of my fellow masters in education cohorts to check out and save for future classroom activities.

I like this game even though I haven't gotten half way through and some parts were mysteries and are kept mysteries.

This web game is a perfect tool to help educate children about history in a very fun and interactive ways. I hope more of these games will be developed in the near future.

Well done!

I think it's great that the participant has to think through the clues, instead of just being passively entertained.

This game is great! My kids now seems to hooked at Meet me at Midnight.

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