Planting new ideas – The Clover Project

On the 12th and 13th of May there was a special meetup of scientists and game developers thanks to The Wellcome Trust and GameCity. Katie from Triangular Pixels was one of the lucky few to be invited, to help sow the seeds of something new.


It all started when Jonathan Smith, Co-Director of GameCity and The National Videogame Arcade, emailed a wonderful invitation asking me if I could come along to a workshop. The 24hr workshop would provide an opportunity for a small group of specially-invited scientists and game makers to introduce their work to each other; to explore potential areas for future collaboration, and to develop concrete proposals for funding from The Wellcome Trust which could support those new ideas. I couldn’t say no, GameCity was such a friendly event, and the opportunity sounded really fun, so I packed my bags and drove up.


It was a gloriously sunny couple of days in Cambridge, on the picturesque grounds of The Sanger Institute.







After getting a little lost on campus, I finally found the hunting house which was to be our home for the duration of the workshop.




I walked into a room with the likes of Ed Key, Paul Kidluff-Taylor, and Niall Moody and Roise Ball, some great games company to have around. Sitting amongst us was a lot of new faces, scientists from all sorts of fields and backgrounds – some not even into games – but all interested in the opportunity to bring science and games together.


Even the room itself was rather pretty…





Dr Iain Dodgeon, Creative Partnerships Manager from The Wellcome Trust, introduced the session. We were looking for the growing of a new relationship between games and science, embedding science into culture, rather than just making educational games. We spent the next couple of hours introducing ourselves and our work.






After meeting some exceptionally interesting people, we took a tour around the campus (rather than my getting-lost exploration), where we donned the official scientist gear as we ventured inside amongst the DNA machinery.
















Getting back to our temporary home, we ate, drank, mingled, and played a lot of games! I had to set up Smash Hit Plunder of course, doing the usual mounting the Gear on to peoples heads. It was the first time most people actually were in Virtual Reality, and it sparked so many ideas for its applications.







After a rather late night, an early morning start.. well.. 9am.. came as a bit of a shock to the system. We settled down in our room, only to then be told we were now concept speed dating! The aim was to partner one scientist and one game dev, and get them to pitch a new concept after 10 minutes of brainstorming.


I thought waking up early was a shock, but concept speed dating was even more intense! My usual method of coming up with a new game idea involves a lot of post-it’s and a rather methodical process, which there was clearly not the time for. But, after heading on a few walks around the grounds, my fellow scientists and I came up with a few interesting ideas! In fact, everyone did, and some really new concepts came from the day.





It was all over too soon though, and was pretty hard to say good bye. We had bonded so much as a team and it felt like we barely got started on the possibilities of what we can do together, but I guess that’s the point – just the planting of new ideas, the best bit is still to come.


I had such a fun time with a bunch of super friendly people, and I can wait to work with them all again.