Restart, a game about starting a new life in another country

Migration and/at the Netherlands Open Air Museum
Migration and integration are particularly topical themes at present. However, these are also themes that have been inextricably linked to the Netherlands, as a trading nation, for many centuries. Every day students are brought face to face with both the positive and negative effects of migration. Within the Restart educational project there is also scope to focus on how migration is experienced and perceived by this group. In addition, the Open Air Museum expands the students’ knowledge of and insight into the history of migration in the Netherlands.

At the museum park in Arnhem the students will learn about the stories of real migrants inside the museum’s historic buildings, including the Chinese restaurant, the Moluccan barracks, the Turkish boarding house and the Indonesian yard.

Integrating into Anderland: practical experiences
When the students arrive, a museum employee checks their passports, which have been made at school during their preparatory lesson. They are now ‘citizens on trial’ in Anderland, a fictitious country, but one that has its own flag and national anthem. Right from the outset they are immersed in the story. In groups of 3 or 4 they spend three hours exploring the park independently, with an iPad as their guide.

Once they have set off they come up against obstacles and challenges that are part of everyday life for migrants. The local language is written in strange letters and they prepare and taste unfamiliar foods. They also have to learn to ride a bike again. This is something all Dutch children can do, but these bikes appear to have a mind of their own. Nothing is like it was before.

They try to make friends and set out in search of work in the museum park, making enquiries with the miller, the black smith and the laundry boss or at the goods shed. Museum employees play an active part in the game; there is certainly not work for everyone, especially if you have no qualifications. Even if you do find a job, it is dirty and unskilled work.

Success is by no means guaranteed and setbacks are inevitable. Feelings of frustration or disappointment are an integral part of the game. Only once the students have actually experienced these emotions for themselves do they truly understand the situation that migrants are in, and that is precisely the intention.

Choosing their own route
Young people between the ages of 11 and 14, the target group for this game, want to be able to decide things for themselves. Predetermined routes are boring and simply encourage them to sabotage the intended plan or to go off track. The iPad, with its carefully considered game structure, guides them through the park like a kind of ‘gamemaster’. It helps them with their journey and their tasks and allows them to make strategic decisions themselves. This feeling of freedom and autonomy is very important for this age group and has a particularly stimulating effect.

Just like in real life, how successfully they integrate is determined by an unpredictable mix of factors. As ‘citizens on trial’, they are assessed based on their knowledge, persistence and adaptability, as well as their ability to provide for themselves and find happiness. If they manage to find work, this earns them points. If they are unable to find a job, but do not let this setback affect them, they achieve a high score for perseverance. This makes the game surprising and challenging.

Teachers’ reviews

Students were extremely enthusiastic and involved. It really got them thinking. You could see that in particular during the final lesson.

A challenging project with engaging tasks and situations. The students really enjoy following the route and being given tasks via the iPad!

The students learn a great deal in an enjoyable way. They really experience what it’s like to start your life again in a strange country.

Excellent. The students were outraged that they couldn’t find a job. Works brilliantly!

The Museum
The Netherlands Open Air Museum is situated in a beautiful 44-hectare park on the outskirts of the city of Arnhem. With over eighty authentic historic buildings (windmills, farm houses, cottages, and businesses), as well as a wealth of objects and true stories, it really brings the past to life. Visitors go on a journey through the last two hundred years. The museum staff appears to have stepped straight out of the past. Proud of their heritage, they will inspire visitors with their stories.

At the end of the 19th century, the Netherlands experienced a period of rapid change. The industrial revolution brought progress and prosperity, but our crafts and traditions were faced with the threat of being lost forever. Established in 1912, over the last century the Netherlands Open Air Museum has grown to become one of the country’s most visited museums (555,000 visitors in 2015), one that tells a relevant story that is linked to the present, the past and the future.

This project was developed by the Education department of the Netherlands Open Air Museum and IJsfontein (serious gaming, interactive communication, and education). Help and advice were also provided by teachers and students from Karel de Grote College (Nijmegen) and Het Venster (Arnhem), specialists from COS Gelderland(partner in diversity and sustainability) and HKU University of the Arts Utrecht (Interactive and Playful Design department).

With thanks to:
Mondriaan Fonds and Janivo Stichting, whose support made this project possible.

Netherlands Open Air Museum
Hoeferlaan 4
6816 SG Arnhem
The Netherlands
+31 26 3576111