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Smithsonian® Mission Museum: The Case of the Missing Mummy

Design Challenge: While working with Discovery Bay Games, Shanon and Marisa were asked to develop two board games for the Smithsonian. The challenge was to bring the wide world of the Smithsonian into players’ homes and provide children an opportunity to explore and learn about their worlds without the material feeling too much like school.

Solution: We worked to discover the top touchstones and incorporate them into a set of family games that inspired connection and learning. The Case of the Missing Mummy was a cooperative, detective-themed game that had families working together to collect artifacts and decode puzzles. The game mimicked the experience of visiting a museum, with unexpected and interesting facts around every corner. Unlike most trivia-based games, the activities were designed in such a way that kids did not need to know the answer to successfully complete activities. With a kid-friendly hook and a variety of activities, we were able to make the Smithsonian collection relevant and accessible to kids and their parents.

Favorite Moments: We loved watching a family work together to strategize movement around the board to return the mummy back to its case and work together to complete the activities. One memorable moment was watching one family decode the words “bendable straw” against the clock as they assigned one another different roles: a writer, a reader, and two “scanners”. The team was abuzz in their official roles, and upon success, high fives were given all around.

Background: Marisa and Shanon led the concepting, gameplay design, and content, working with the Smithsonian and the team at Discovery Bay Games. The two board games, The Case of the Missing Mummy and Artifact or Fiction, launched in 2011.