Tear Down This Wall, created by the DDR Museum and VIRTUE, offers an immersive learning experience around the building and dismantling of the Berlin Wall through AR gamification platform Minecraft Earth.
The Berlin Wall came down in 1989. Over 30 years on, Minecraft Earth is being used to teach German history through an immersive learning experience. The game took 14 months to develop and, once players are inside, they can explore a historically-correct 1-1 fullscale replication of Berlin Wall. They will also experience a taste of life in East Germany before the fall of the Wall.
“The DDR Museum and VIRTUE have transformed the traditional history lesson into an immersive learning experience,” says Morten Grubak, executive creative director of VIRTUE.
Minecraft Earth is the mobile-device AR version of Minecraft. It uses AR to place constructions into physical space via image overlays viewed through the player’s smartphone or tablet. Players can build in tabletop mode and then place life-sized versions in the real world. So the Berlin Wall can be situated anywhere in the world, or in its original Berlin setting. Players then have the option to invite friends or fellow students to explore their build and use pickaxes to tear down the Wall, replicating what happened in 1989.
The hope is to spark the interest of younger generations. “This is the first time we’re actually able to let people from all over the world tear down the wall,” said Gordon Freiherr von Godin, director of the DDR Museum. “Being an active participant, instead of a spectator, makes a big difference with younger visitors and catches their attention differently.”
Full educational plan for teachers
The AR experience is backed up by a full teaching programme which has been developed in collaboration between the DDR Museum and teachers. It includes a rounded curriculum with group exercises and guidelines for debates aimed at students in grades 6-9. Teachers can download Minecraft Buildplates and teaching materials at teardownwalls.org.
Tear Down This Wall has won a gold and two bronze eurobest awards, awarded for creative excellence in creative communications.
The DDR museum is situated in Berlin. It majors on immersive experiences of life in former East Germany, encouraging visitors to interact with exhibits to gain an understanding of the past. VIRTUE is a creative agency formed by Vice Media Group, the North American digital media and broadcasting company which grew from the magazine VICE.
Museums are well aware of the power of gamification to increase consumer engagement. Games such as Minecraft are increasingly being used to deliver a new way of learning and appeal to younger visitors. As Blooloop reported, The Tate was an early adapter with Tate Worlds, followed by the Museum of London.
Many other museums have embraced Minecraft during 2020 as a response to closures due to Covid-19. The Gwacheon National Science Museum in Gyeonggi ran a festival during November with a cyber-replica of the museum built within Minecraft.
The Children’s Museum in Seoul also opened an online virtual exhibition at the beginning of December, allowing visitors to play mini-games from their own homes.