CIDOC CRM the Game is a project initiated by George Bruseker and Anais Guillem to address questions of basic paedagogy with regards to semantics and formal ontology. While formal ontology standards such as CIDOC CRM and now widely recognized as necessary tools for the long term integration of data, and many data curation projects at a smaller and larger scale include the creation of a semantic graph as part of their strategy, knowledge of correct use of ontologies remains the preserve of a relatively small number of individuals. The success of semantic data curation practices, however, is fundamentally predicated on a wide-scale adoption of - and knowledge of how to apply - semantics for a particular domain by the domain experts in question. Semantics precisely aim to empower domain specialists to take control of their data by allowing them to accurately model the information they wish to encode and share. Therefore, addressing the paedagogic causes for the lack of take up of such ontologies (other causes notwithstanding) is of immediate import for the long term success not only of such ontological models but, more importantly, for the information sharing and integration that they wish to support.

The Game was conceived in the first instance to meet the challenge of bridging the gap of knowledge for first time adopters/users of CIDOC CRM. The challenge of introducing CIDOC CRM (or any ontology) to a first time user lies in the need to present abstract concepts and reasoning in a manner that is comprehensible and relatable to the domain user who is interested not in the model as such, but in what they can do with it. General introductory material on CIDOC CRM and other ontologies tends to be highly abstract and to appeal to the ways of thinking of conceptual modellers themselves. The learning audience, however, has a primary interest in the application of the ontology and not its finer intellectual nuances. 

The CIDOC CRM Game therefore materializes the CIDOC CRM ontology as a card game consisting of 3 basic decks of cards: Class Cards, Relation Cards and Instance Cards. The Class and Instance cards provide a materialization of the ontology as such and allow players of the game to visualize the ontology structure and dynamically work at applying it through arranging class and relation cards together on a playing surface, seeing what statements are and are not made possible through the ontological framework. The instance card deck materializes a case study of a well known cultural phenomenon which is subject of some form of documentation. It provides practical instances of real world documented entities to which to apply the ontology and begin to understand concepts such as instantiation, IsA, domain and range and so on and so forth.

The approach instantiated in the Game provides a teaching and learning support for the apprehension of CIDOC CRM and general ontological principles. The scenario of a game related to an actual cultural phenomenon both makes the learning activity more social and immediate as well as more relatable. CIDOC CRM and ontology concepts taught/learned can be immediately tested in practice by playing the game, exposing interesting semantic questions and challenging learners to apply their knowledge critically and see the possibilities of semantic representation.

On this site, we are gathering the materials related to the different versions of the game that have been produced and making them available as an open-source resource to be reused by those teaching/learning CIDOC CRM. We also hope to foster an ever larger community of adopters of CIDOC CRM and users of the CIDOC CRM Game. If you are interested in elaborating your own version of the game and having it publicized here, please don’t hesitate to get in contact.