In October, I will be working at the Victoria and Albert Museum as their first game designer in residence. The position was advertised around January this year. I submitted a written application, detailing my ideas about the residency, along with my own artwork and videos. I was then called back for a day at the V&A, which consisted of a 20 minute presentation to a group of V&A staff, and then an interview. For six months, I will work on game ideas inspired by the British Galleries, which will then be prototyped at Abertay University. I will also be delivering some public participation programmes throughout my stay, consisting of talks, workshops and game jams. There are a lot of reasons why I'm excited about the residency:
1) Inspiration. There are 4.5 million objects at the V&A, so I am excited to come up with game ideas which are influenced on these works of art. I have always found it easier to come up with game ideas which are based on a theme, rather than starting with a blank slate. One of my favourite exhibits in the British Collection is Room 53: Rococo Style. I love the pastel colours and playful curves in the designs. During my undergraduate degree, I looked at Rococo as art inspiration for a game I solely worked on called ‘Fiammetta’: http://gad-ba.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/Art (This is a project I will soon be revisiting with better artwork, code and design!)
2) Games as Art. As well as being a great opportunity for myself, this residency is a big step for the industry. There has been a long debate centred on video games as art going back to the 1980s. Even Rodger Ebert had strong opinions about games as art! The V&A – the world's largest museum of art and design – taking an interest in games is a sure sign that it can be treated as an art form. And they are not alone! MoMA also have a game exhibit, (They recently added Minecraft to their lineup!) with one of their senior curators, Paola Antonelli doing a TED talk on the subject.
3) Educating the public. One of the most exciting aspects of this residency is that I will have to engage the public with games design. Not only will I run workshops, talks and game jams, but I will be given the opportunity to open up my V&A studio to the public, where they can see my designs and how I work. I'm really hoping that this will help the public connect with this form of design and challenge any assumptions that they may already have. I am really keen to show how games, digital, art and culture can merge into one.
4) Game Preservation. The V&A taking an interest in games should trigger conversations about preserving games (and games hardware). It is interesting to think about the methods we can use to archive games culture – such as displaying computers/hardware, concept art, preserving source code or archiving through emulation. Of course, there may also be issues, such as how we can keep games that are only accessible through the web/always online.
The residency has a few different partners, including Abertay University, (where my team won Dare to be Digital, started our company and studied) UKIE and the V&A at Dundee. I will be talking at Abertay University’s Dare Protoplay about my residency in August. (http://www.daretobedigital.com/42_Dare-ProtoPlay.html)
I was so thrilled to have so many different publications take interest in my residency; BBC, Kotaku, Eurogamer, The Independent, Artribune and Design Week to name a few. Having games enthusiast press, mainstream, and arts/culture press covering the same story is wonderful!
At the weekend, I will be attending SyncTank's Culture Hack Scotland 2013 at The Whisky Bond in Glasgow. This is a 48 hour 'hack-a-thon' where people in the creative sector will be making exciting cultural pieces. My job will be to judge the creations at the end of the event, and also to hold a 2 hour workshop introducing game creation. This will be the first time delivering a workshop to adults, so I am slightly nervous! You can read my interview with SyncTank here!