Tate + National Galleries of Scotland + Thought Den = the rise of ‘playful learning’

Playful Learning

Think of this post as a club sandwich. The juicy filling is our new game for Tate and National Galleries Scotland – we’re so damn pleased we can’t stop playing it and the gaming gauntlet has been thrown down! 27,000 highscore… But juicy filling alone doesn’t make a classic club sandwich. The bread-rock (yeah!) of any decent hunger-buster, neatly organising the contents, adding bulk and protecting keyboard-bound fingertips the world over is, of course, a few fine slices of the good stuff. And so it is with great pleasure we’d like to explain, explore and excite you with our working philosophy of ‘playful learning’, the bready goodness that helps us make digital sandwiches with substance.

Playful Learning - moo cards

A call from Tate…

Back in the depths of 2010 we received a call from Tate inviting us to pitch on a large educational game to support the ARTIST ROOMS tour. This is a collection of world-famous artworks by internationally renowned artists created by Anthony d’Offay and supported by the Art Fund. We pitched against some London big boys and a few West Country comrades and won the gig because of our characterful approach, something we have been refining since becoming founding residents of the Pervasive Media Studio in early 2008.

Thought Den’s credentials in game-making go back to 2005, when the founding directors worked under the wings of such Bristol luminaries as Andrew Parkhouse of Team Rubber and Dan Efergan, now Creative Director of Aardman Digital. In those early years, we built some addictive niceties such as Race Doggles, My Abodo and the more recent Fire Kills for the Central Office of Information and Swamp Drifter for Southern Comfort. But alongside a strong gaming portfolio, Thought Den were establishing a reputation in the education industry with e-Learning tools such as Parashoot and face-to-face workshops for students and professionals. (If you think we have bad hair now, watch some of our daft videos for a real education on bad haircuts)


Over an intensive 6 week brainstorming and specification period we combined the various learning objectives of Young Tate with our gaming experience and THIS is what came out the other end, about 6 months, 200 artworks and 60 hours of 3D modeling later. Play the game for yourself.

ARTIST ROOMS : The Game, splash screen

The aim of the game is to choose one of 10 artists, select 5 artworks, and hang them in a 3D space that you can explore at the end of the game.

Before you get there, players must earn points in 4 categories, all inspired by the real-life challenges faced by Tate and NGS curators.

  • Interpretation (knowing all there is to know about the artworks)
  • Preservation (making sure they are not damaged, and are hung in their best condition)
  • Lighting (each artwork will have different requirements for light levels both to preserve the artwork and present it clearly)
  • Marketing (you gotta let people know about you! A blog perhaps…)

ARTIST ROOMS : The Game, minigames

The highscore

If anyone can beat this highsore, we’ll take them on a VIP trip to Bristol Museum when ARTIST ROOMS comes to town in June 2012!
ARTIST ROOMS : The Game, highscore of 27,407


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Contact the studio for Press enquiries. Download press pack.
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Things that people have already written about the game:

Art Daily

Museum Association

Jonathan Jones on Guardian Unlimited

On Twitter :

@EuroArtNet “Top story: Artist Rooms | Young Tate goo.gl/ez0tC

@neatcraw “Clever little Artist Room game by the TATE..play it, waste time, it’s fun.. http://t.co/YtuaIwz. Scored 8,623!!”

@kettlesyard “So we’re all having a go at the Artist Rooms game but none of us in office here are that good, obviously in wrong jobs! http://t.co/80rtAa5

@SelinaSargent “This is quite possibly my favorite game!! Who wants to be a curator?? I DOOO 😀 http://t.co/c0airyk

@wandsworth_arts “WOW this is really cool @Tate http://t.co/yD6W65q

@CultureKeyNice “Artist Rooms game from Young Tate http://t.co/ZBUVPog

What’s next?

Tate invited us to pitch on an even bigger and more awesome and exciting project! Check out the app icon…we can’t say any more, probably not even this, but use and look for #magictateball

Magic Tate Ball - coming to iOS and Nokia soon

A closing thought

We learn when we play, and that is the core of our working philosophy. Our job is to create entertaining experiences with substance. We do this by combining the notorious Thought Den bounciness with long-established academic partnerships (thank you to the Centre of Excellence in Media Practice)and a few years of trial and error running educational events that have play at the heart of the learning experience.

A little environmental widget for your entertainment

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