We will sadly be bidding our Games Designer in residence, Sophia George, goodbye in a few days time. I thought I would grab her for a few questions about her residency before she leaves.
LS: What was it like to be based in the V&A for six months?
SG: It was great to be based in such a creative environment. There’s always something exciting going on – preparations for Friday Lates, family holiday activities, weekend events, and loads more. On a day to day basis, I enjoyed being in such close proximity to the galleries; I could have a little wander around to clear my mind or to get some inspiration whenever I liked.
LS: How was it engaging with the public during your residency?
SG: I really enjoyed my open studios, especially at the Museum of Childhood and during half term here at South Kensington. It surprised me how useful they were for my game development, as it was so interesting to see how people of all ages approached my prototype game, what they liked about it, what they thought could be better. The Games Jam that we held in November, and the Schools Project we did were really fun too as I got to see other people doing the same process as me – taking inspiration from the galleries and the objects in the Museum and creating a game from them.
It was good to teach people about what it means to be a games designer too. Lots of people think I create the whole game myself, but I only specialise in designing the art, the ‘look’, and the story of the game. I’m not a coder, although I do have some basic skills on software like Game Salad, which is how I managed to make my prototype so people could see what I’d been working on.
LS: What was the best thing about the residency over all?
SG: I think the best thing was that everyone was really excited about the residency before I even arrived. There was a lot of press coverage as people were picking up on the idea of video games as art. It changed my life, really; people know who I am now and I get invited to loads of amazing events and have some incredible contacts for the future.
LS: Do you have any tips for artists and designers wanting to apply for future residencies here at the V&A?
SG: I think a strong initial application is important, with some choice examples of good quality work. I also outlined really clearly how I wanted to engage with difference audiences and mentioned some specific ideas like the Games Jam. Public speaking skills are also really important, so much of the residency is about speaking to people about your work and explaining clearly what you’re doing and what you’re trying to achieve.
LS: What are you up to next?
SG: This is just the start of the project really. As my residency has been supported by V&A Dundee and the University of Abertay, I’m going up there at the start of May to develop my Strawberry Thief game.
I’ve been working on a ‘style guide’ for the people I’ll be working with when I get up there. There will be a whole team helping me – programmers, animators and audio specialists – to make the game a finished product. I’m hoping there will be five levels, all based on different William Morris patterns and incorporating intricate garden designs from different periods. The Strawberry Thief prototype that I’ve been working on here will probably be just one of those levels. I’ll be sad to leave the Museum but it will be exciting to finish the game, and hopefully I will be back down around September time to launch it!