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Designer in residence brings digital art forms to museum

The Guardian

London’s Victoria and & Albert museum has appointed its first ever games designer in residence - Bafta award-winning Sophia George. She completed a masters in games development at the University of Abertay Dundee, and co-founded Swallowtail Games. In 2012 she won an award for her design, Tick Tock Toys. During her residency, which began in October 2013, George aims to release a finished game in the summer of 2014 after a production period at Abertay.

It’s been challenging to think about the objects here at the museum as games – so many artefacts serve design functions already – household things, architecture or textiles. But computer games blend elements of many traditional practices – including pure art, animation, character design, architectural design and more.

I’ve been going through the British 1500 -1900 galleries for inspiration and just trying to absorb everything I can about its design history and the artists behind each piece. I could spend months on pure research but I’d just like to get to work. I’ve made a basic prototype game taking influence from William Morris’ “Strawberry Thief” fabric – you control a small bird and collect strawberries to score points. I’m now thinking about a more complicated project. I feel Morris’ work will continue to inspire me for years.

This residency is great for the V&A to show it’s embracing digitally-created design work – staff have been so keen to help with my ideas. It’s good for the games industry as well – it’s a step towards games being taken seriously as a form of art and design. And it’s been great for me – I’ve picked up many different skills, from public speaking to a deeper understanding of design. So many people are excited by this residency that they want to collaborate or discuss projects – it’s sometimes hard just to sit down and work. I often have to explain the difference between a games designer and a games programmer – it’s become apparent that people don’t know about the skills and support you need to make a game. Computer games are an incredible artistic and creative medium but are often over looked.

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