Roll up, roll up, the Filth Fair is open!
The Wellcome Trust’s Dirt season is now open and to accompany we’ve developed an in-theme game: Filth Fair. The game is a free download for iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch as well as a free-to-play online game.
Making a game about dirt was never going to be the easiest topic. As a concept it is both broad and narrow. A game about throwing mud around, for example, would be fun but would miss the many facets to the subject that the Dirt exhibition had to it. Many ideas looked around the contrast between being clean and dirty and the conflict we often perceive there. We liked these but were looking for something that we also felt had a very broad appeal – we all have a relationship with dirt, after all.
We wanted to create game that everyone could explore at their own level, and looked long and hard to find the right people with the right approach. What emerged from this process is a puzzle/trivia word game developed by Guildford-based developers Toytek. They had already received a degree of acclaim for their work on The Ultimate Alphabet app, so we took the core idea for this game and made it, well, dirtier.
The final result is an amazing central image, which comes from a real painting by cult artist Mike Wilks. The richness of the image meant that we could place objects in the image that were also in the exhibition, so linking the two experiences. Mike took ideas and objects from the Wellcome Library (including objects that are in the Dirt exhibition) and worked them into a collage of themes and colours. Being able to make these part of a game is especially nice because much of the content we consume nowadays is created and delivered in the digital realm.
For the game, we’ve hidden 331 words in the image. The aim is to find all of these hidden words. Some are obvious and are just what you see (e.g. pig) and while others are not (e.g. miasma). There are clues – cryptic and normal – as well as the number of letters or the first letter of the word. We’ve also added other bits of help such as a jigsaw jumble (where you get all the letters for the word, but in a random order) and wild stars (that give you extra letters for the word).
Filth Fair covers a lot of topics and has many levels of play – from cryptic to jigsaw jumble – and we like the layered feel this gives to the game. There is something appealing about the idea of a central image, awash with detail, that you can find something new in each time you look.
Have a go yourself and find out how dirty you are!
Tomas Rawlings is a Digital Media & Video Games Consultant for the Wellcome Trust.