House of Shadows ran at a V&A Late in 2010
The best thing about running games in the real world is seeing people having fun that you designed. So here’s a couple we crowned King and Queen of the V&A for getting all the questions right. They weren’t the first, but I was so shocked at how quickly the first people finished I forgot to take their picture.
House of Shadows was more of a puzzle than a game, kind of like Where’s Wally but using rooms of the museum as your puzzle pages. It fulfilled its brief in that it got people moving round the museum and looking closely at objects. Also I think got people to experience some of what I find really fun about the V&A and museums like it – that there are so many ways of, say representing a horse’s head in metal, all lined up for your consideration, all slightly different. You can really trace the craftsman’s decisions in their forms.
As someone who once studied fashion, the waistlines was my favourite – what year is each of these waistlines from and which is not a dress but a statue of a goddess? On the night we had a chap who claimed to know the collections so well he didn’t need to go and look, and he was often in the right century.
I’ve been making a lot of digital games recently, and there was something lovely about doing a project where there were absolutely no barriers to entry – no need for a specific mobile platform, internet time, no wrestling with how to hook people to move between physical and digital platforms. The audience was restricted to people who turned up on the night, but anyone who wanted a booklet could take one, and lots of people came back to take booklets for friends. It’s nice to be able to say yes constantly.
I need to thank my lovely volunteers Holly, Kim, Ian, Matt and Robin, and all the lovely people who gave up Sunday afternoons to test earlier versions of the game.