Play the Past

Mobile Game
Minnesota History Center, St. Paul – 2014, 2017

Play the Past was an engaging student-directed field trip experience supported by technology. Students used iPods to explore the Then Now Wow exhibit. They entered historical situations and, through critical thinking and collaboration, earned badges and collected digital items for later use. Back at school, the interaction continued, as students and teachers built upon the experience through further research and classroom activities.

Interactions within Then Now Wow included earning a day’s wage in an iron mine, playing the role of a hunter or clerk and making trades in an 1800s fur trade environment, exploring contemporary expressions of longstanding Dakota traditions, and surviving life on the prairie in a sod house. The game was integrated with physical interactives in the exhibit so that players received real-time feedback on their devices when interacting with exhibit components. They could also trigger events through the game to change the exhibit environment, such as a locust storm in the sod house.

In 2017, the game expanded to the Minnesota’s Greatest Generation exhibit at the Minnesota History Center. The expansion added three new hubs: Depression, War, and Boom to complement the content in that exhibit. Augmented reality functionality was also added, allowing students to meet characters in historical images and find enemy threats in a giant wall mural.

Play the Past was developed in collaboration with Field Day Learning Games and utilized the ARIS platform for the in-gallery app experience. The original experience in Then Now Wow launched in 2014. The game was discontinued in 2020.

Bronze, Education Category, 2014 American Alliance of Museums MUSE Award
2014 AASLH Award of Merit

Creative and Technical Direction, User Experience Design, Physical Interactive Integration, Media and System Design
(On staff with the Minnesota Historical Society)