V&A unveil William Morris inspired game for iPad

The game's creator, Sophia George
The game's creator, Sophia George
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HE WAS a lauded textile designer who longed to see Britain transform into a socialist utopia, but although a visionary, William Morris could never have imagined he would one day inspire a computer game.

The Victoria & Albert Museum in London is to release their first computer game designed by Sophia George, a student at Dundee’s Abertay University, who last year became the museum’s first game designer in residence.

The new game takes its title, Strawberry Thief, from a furnishing fabric designed by Morris, who in his spare time also wrote fantasy novels, and which hangs in one of the V&A’s galleries. The game enables the user to sketch and colour the famous pattern by flying a bird – the strawberry thief itself – across their iPad screen.

As the player drags their finger across the screen, it leaves a trail for the bird to follow – and each section of the pattern it flies over then transforms from a pencil sketch to the coloured pattern.

Animations and music from the Royal Scottish National Orchestra (RSNO) gradually bring Morris’ pattern to life, in an experience which is designed for players of all ages.

Ms George researched her project between October 2013 and March 2014 in the V&A, before returning to Abertay University to develop the game with Erin Michno from game studio Quartic Llama, Neil Cullen from RSNO and Abertay students Ellen Brown and Cameron Moore.

Yesterday Ms George said: “I’m delighted to be releasing my second game after a wonderful year working in the V&A and at Abertay University.

“It’s been an incredible opportunity to have access to the V&A collections, and to the game design experts at Abertay. With Strawberry Thief, I wanted to show that games are an incredibly artistic, creative medium that can excite, inspire and even relax the player, quite unlike the stereotype of games just involving fast-paced violence.

“It’s also very important to me that families play games together, that games are designed for older people to engage with technology, and that girls and young women see game art, design and programming as real career options for them.”

The computer game designer has already won a Bafta “Ones to Watch” award in 2012 for her first game, Tick Tock Toys.

Professor Louis Natanson, head of the school of arts, media and computer games at Abertay University, said: “Sophia is a very inspiring young designer, and Strawberry Thief gives us a glimpse of the potential for games to explore new ways of interpreting and exhibiting the work of famous artists.”