In the iPhone app game Dali’s Soft Watches, players get the chance to explore several of Dali’s surreal landscape paintings. The paintings are intriguing and the game provides an engrossing experience even if you’re not a big Salvador Dali fan.
Players must search for the famous melting clocks that go missing from their painting, The Persistence of Memory, and turn up in other landscapes. To find them you must examine every inch of the paintings. So you play the game, becoming curiouser and curiouser as you spend time pouring over Dali’s trippy environments. The images are big and scale up very well to the iPad, so you can really see the details. Each painting has it’s own evocative musical score as well. There doesn’t appear to be a time limit for finding the clocks, so you can take your time and really look around.
Surprisingly when you click the Info button all that appears is the title (in English, French, Spanish and Dutch), the date and size of the painting, and which museum owns it. Nothing more – there’s no information about the artist, no back story about the individual paintings. This seems like such a missed opportunity to take advantage of players’ interest and provide more context! Dali was a flamboyant character. Even a casual player would get a kick out of knowing more about him and his work after being so immersed in it.
Interestingly the comments in the app store page didn’t mention this oversight, even though people loved the chance to really look at Dali’s paintings.
An original and compelling game about art is a way for you, the museum, to attract new audiences to your content. Once someone has downloaded the app to their phone and enjoyed it, they’re half way to your front door. I wonder why the makers of this app didn’t go out to meet these players and invite them inside virtually by offering them more information about Dali, or other surrealists. Or if they had provided a Comment or Share Information link people could have provided their location and the producers could have recommended the closest museum with Dali paintings. A lot more could have been done.
If you’re thinking about a game, bear this in mind.
Meanderthal is a very different museum game experience that offers fun, and information at different levels and ways to share what you’ve created. It was just released by the Smithsonian this week (May 10, 2010). Haven’t you always wanted to see what you’d look like as a Neanderthal? You can download the iPhone app here. It’s also available for Android. I’m going to write about this and one or two other museum game apps soon, so please check back or subscribe.