November 5, 2014

The V&A Museum has Released a Game


William Morris was an English textile designer, poet, novelist, translator, and socialist activist. One of his most popular repeating patterns for textiles is called the Strawberry Thief. The antagonist in the pattern, the thief, is a thrush that Morris found in his kitchen garden stealing, well, strawberries. Today, a print resides in the Victoria and Albert Museum and has become the premise for the museums first iOS game.

Sophia George was game designer in residence at the museum. During that time she studied the Morris print and found a game in the work. She and a team consisting of two artists, a programmer and an audio designer have brought the tapestry to life as an iPad game that is now available.

The game enlivens a part of the museum that are often left out of the technological transformation. By taking the work itself as her starting point, letting the life that inhabits it take shape, she has created an interesting departure point for future museum interaction.

Museums have vast collections online. The ease of uploading images to the web has allowed some distant interaction, or familiarity, with art work for some time. But rarely do museums and game developers come together to create experiences based on the artwork. The Morris design is well known, and has made appearances on other commercial products. But the game is an inspiring precedent to have set for future work.

What artworks would you imagine coming to life as a game? I can see some Matisse prints making great games. Early Pop Art? Alexander Calder? The possibilities are great. So welcome this new game to your iPad and support museum innovation.

Hat tip to Fast Company’s article on the game.