I recently had the opportunity to create a game “Weaving/Dreaming/Exploring” for an event put on by the Mythos Council, in partnership with Game Education PDX, themed around the “Gods and Heroes” exhibition at the Portland Art Museum.
The game was designed as a way for children to experience the special exhibition space, dedicated to works from the Ecole des Beaux Arts Grand Prix competition, through the medium of games and play.
After solving a few simple puzzles and listening to audio tracks to add additional dimensions to the time period and geography of the art pieces, they were invited to create new art themselves, modeled after the “Expressive Heads” competition pieces.
Finally, they were given a set of “game poems”, short, expressive pieces of art that can be used as meditative, playful exercises in interacting with pieces in the gallery space.
War & Peace
Many of these paintings were created during bloody wars and revolutions. Everyone should find one painting that is especially gruesome.
Award points for the number of weapons (spears, arrows, bows, swords, etc.) visible in the painting. The winner is the person who picked the most violent picture; the other winner is the person who picked the least violent one.
Count the number of animals. Decide as a group if sculptures and skins count toward the total. Keep going until you’ve seen 6 animals.
Look at the paintings in the distance. Let your eyes lose focus and see only colors and shapes. Pretend you’re a painter and have every color in the world at your disposal. The game ends when your eyes come back into focus.
Study the pictures of Odysseus and Nausicaa. The scene on the left is a comedy, the scene on the right is a story of unrequited love. Share a story with a friend, but change it from a comedy to a tragedy, or vice versa.
Look at the people in the background of the paintings.
What are they looking at? How do they feel? You win the game if one of the people looks like how you feel inside right now–but you have to point them out to someone and explain why.
Sit on a bench for five minutes and count the number of people who come by.
Are they talking or studying the paintings quietly? Are they in groups, or separating?
The game ends when someone laughs too loudly, or when the room is completely silent except for footsteps.
The Mythos Challenge was put on with the Portland Art Museum and Game Education Portland. They invited students to create games based on mythological themes, and offered them guidance and mentorship in helping develop those games further, after the competition concluded. Thanks to Will Lewis, Kristin Bayans, and everyone who helped make possible, coordinate, and run Weaving/Dreaming/Exploring.