Rugged Rovers

(Science Museum)

Think like an engineer in this multi-platform, multi-player game of design where robots race each other across treacherous terrain

The Brief

The vision of London’s Science Museum is to be the best place in the world for people to enjoy science. We’ve produced a number of games together to help achieve that aim but this brief was the first to invite visitors to engage with exhibits on and off site using their own device.

Inspired by the dwindling interest in engineering careers, this multi-player game was commissioned to get teenagers to embrace their problem-solving skills and ingenuity to explore what it means to be a great engineer.

Our Response

Rugged Rovers is one of the most inclusive and endlessly playable games we’ve made. It taps into soaring public interest in robots and space travel to present players with a simple challenge: design your own rover and test it in the hazardous valleys and mountains of a far away planet.

Players are presented with an engine and invited to draw a body of any shape, add wheels of any size, then launch their rover into a rugged landscape of gravel pits and cliff drops. Gallery visitors see their creations racing against one another in real time on a huge screen, while online players compete via the website. Some rovers fail and others break away from the pack, so players learn as they watch, adapting designs and collaborating with friends to build the best rover of all.

Within three months over 1,000,000 rovers were drawn by players from all round the world. On average, four rovers are drawn per session, showing iterative design in action. First installed at Science Museum in December 2014 as part of the Engineer Your Future exhibition, the game is also available online, on Android and on iOS. The installation was so successful a touring edition was commissioned to debut at the Big Bang Fair in March 2015. Rugged Rovers is a truly simple and elegant expression of what it means to think like an engineer.

"Teenagers are a challenging audience for museums to connect with but Preloaded’s response was beautifully simple, great fun and has proved to be immensely popular. This was the first time we’ve invited visitors to use their own devices to directly interact with a gallery exhibit and Preloaded’s technical expertise and attention to detail made them the perfect partner."


Dave Patten, Head of New Media, Science Museum

The Results

  • 80,000+

    Sessions per month

  • Serious Play Gold

    Museums & Visitor Centers

  • Nominations

    TIGA - Game with a Purpose

  • 16 minutes

    Average session length

  • 300,000+

    Rovers drawn per month

  • 4

    Rovers designed per session