Creating digital games inspired by art, history and heritage – Orleans House Gallery

To continue our series of Good Practice Centre blog posts, this week we hear from 2015-16 Good Practice Centre Orleans House Gallery, and how they used gaming and digital technologies to encourage young people to explore art.

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Orleans House Gallery

Get your game face on! Exploring the world of gaming with Arts Award

During this project, the education team at Orleans House Gallery were able to re-live some of their best teenage years by creating the Orleans House Gallery Gaming Hub. This new gaming platform is a place where young people can create digital games inspired by art, history and heritage. Young people were able to use this opportunity to work towards some very unique Arts Award projects.

The creation of the gaming hub was part of our Heritage Lottery Funded Young Roots Project, Building Foundations. In September 2015, we were awarded a grant to run a yearlong architecture project for young people in the London boroughs of Richmond upon Thames and Hounslow. In this project young people focussed on two examples of Jacobean 17th century architecture, Ham House and Boston Manor House. After working towards a spectacular exhibition, ‘Wigs, Windows and Wallpaper: Reimagining Boston Manor House’ young people translated their research into innovative digital content.

They worked with designers from Soda and artists from Orleans House Gallery to create an exciting gaming platform to be used by other young people and gallery visitors. After a planning and research session with our gallery’s Art Forum, we decided to create a ‘sticker book’ style platform where young people could upload their designs and drawings to be used as backdrops, avatars and obstacles within an online game.

Arts Award projects

Some of the young people worked towards their Bronze Arts Award – this is what they did for each part:

Part A

  • During creative workshops, young people started to produce a catalogue of images to be uploaded to the game hub using a range of artistic techniques including, drawing, collage and mono printing. After uploading their images onto the gaming platform young people worked with Interaction Designer Fiddian Warman, and learnt how to make their characters move, jump and spin through a game.
  • As an extended activity for this section, young people also took part in a clay workshop where they sculpted Super Mario inspired obstacles. They embraced the fantastical nature of gaming characters and created some highly imaginative figures, obstacles and backdrops. They then brought the models together to form an obstacle course, which was filmed on an iPad leading a character through it.
  • Keeping in the digital mind set, another activity which some young people did as part of their award was take part in a MakeyMakey coding workshop. In August we ran a Hackathon workshop where young people were asked to use MakeyMakeys to solve various problems.

Part B

To learn more about the history of gaming and to get ideas for the gaming hub we22828830246_a44f4d7413_k organised a trip to the Science Museum’s gaming exhibition, Power Up! Here young people tested out some of the most exciting breakthrough games from the past 40 years, as well as finding out where gaming is heading in the future. We organised an activity to review the exhibition, where they rated their favourite games which we then shared on social media.

Part C

To find out more about how to get into the gaming industry, young people interviewed Fiddian from Soda, asking him about his career pathway and if he had any suggestions for getting into a digital career. To extend this activity the group were invited to Makeaversity (based at Somerset House) in August to visit Fiddian’s studio and workshop.

Part D

In August we held a picnic for the family and friends of those involved in making the gaming hub. The picnic was held at Ham House, the original source of inspiration for many of the games. Here young people launched their games and taught family and friends how to play them and how to make their own. They gathered feedback on the games as well as on their teaching methods.

What next?

Now the Building Foundations project has ended, we hope to continue using the gaming platform as a useful Arts Award tool. We are planning future gaming projects where young people will be able to continue to create and share games in response to heritage topics.

The Orleans House Gaming Hub was launched in August – take a look at our website for more information and get ready to play!

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