Michael Geithner

Head of Games and Game Design, DDR Museum (Germany)

Michael "Geis" Geithner is working as Head of Games and Game Design at the DDR Museum in Berlin. "A hands-on experience of history" is the credo, that he and a small team of enthusiastic museum makers are working on every day. Michael studied directing movies in Potsdam-Babelsberg and started designing games shortly after. He is working as a freelance Game Designer and Social Media Manager. Together with Martin Thiele-Schwez he founded “Playing History”, a small company which focuses on telling history with games. They design and developed several digital and analogue games, that are being played in schools. Their game “Bürokratopoly” received a special award by the German Federal Agency for Political Education.

A Hands-on Experience of History

For over 11 years the DDR Museum encourages visitors to not only look at historic objects from East-Germany's past, but rather encourages them, to touch, grab, use, listen, watch, dress, drive, open, close, use, play... to interact with them in any way imaginable. Michael Geithner, Head of Game-Design, will talk about how visitors are involved in the museum's „hands-on experience of history“, talks about it's successes it had as one of the most visited museums in Berlin and also about failures they made and lessons they learned and will give a sneak-peak into upcoming projects.

Playground: Museum

Games are the best medium to tell history. Engaging visitors and encouraging them to interact and play is one of the most important goals of the DDR Museum in Berlin. Nominated twice for the European Museum of the Year Award for that approach, the exhibition offers a hands-on experience on many different levels. Understanding how to design and craft a game helps you, as a museum maker, face new challenges in your workspace. Visitors expect a new kind of museum, an educating and fun experience – they expect museums to be open and dynamic places. In order to be a place like that you have to think open and dynamic. For a long time museum installations or even whole exhibitions were built on paper. After months and years of thinking, your ideas came to life and the work was done. In this workshop you will act the other way around – like a game designer would do it and you will build a game in 10 minutes.

Benefits for the participants

Museums often expect visitors to change their perspectives, but visitors also expect the same from museum makers. Even if you do not plan to implement any form of game into your space, thinking like a game designer can be equally valuable for you and your museum. The experience for you as a visitors changes once you are not only a spectator, but you are encouraed to participate and interact with the exhibition. Games help to make your content accessible to a broader audience.