J. Wolfartsberger, D. Merkl, M. Arends, D. Goldfarb - Art History Concepts at Play with ThIATRO - Journal on Computing and Cultural Heritage (JOCCH), Vol. 6, No. 2, 2013
Games have become an integral part of today's culture, most obviously among younger people. At the same time, learning games have proved that they can be a source of enjoyment and are, if well-made, powerful tools for communicating knowledge. For cultural heritage projects targeted to raising the awareness of the general public, the integration of interactivity and innovative storytelling techniques can be supporting elements to capture their target audiences' enthusiasm. In particular, games that deal with art history have particular flaws in integrating motivating elements. This observation led us to the development of the 3D online learning game, ThIATRO, that immerses the player an exhibition and, as a side-effect communicates knowledge of art history concepts to the player. Its playful approach not only increases motivation to learn but also raises interest in art history and cultural heritage in general. We provide an overview of the design ideas behind ThIATRO and summarize the results of evaluations conducted with a group of 14-year-old pupils in a classroom environment. The results indicate that ThIATRO changes the player's aesthetic response and allows him or her to perceive art on a deeper level.