Project Description

A short while ago I came across a free mobile game called Kintsukuroi. BoingBoing gave a nice summary of it:

“… piece together broken shards of ceramic objects to make them whole again, and perhaps soothe your own jangled nerves in the process.

Kintsukuroi (literally, “golden repair”) is named after the Japanese practice of repairing broken pottery using lacquer dusted with precious metals, turning the seams of the once-shattered object into lovely veins of gold or silver. The damage becomes part of the object’s history—something that enriches it, rather than something that deprives it of value. Instead of simply discarding something because it has been broken, kintsukuroi suggests that it can become even more beautiful because of, and not despite being broken.”

I thought this was rather lovely, and wondered if a similar format might be used to educate people about real historical ceramics whilst also utilising existing digital assets. Many ancient ceramics we see in museums have been pieced back together, after all, and whilst golden lacquer isn’t the usual adhesive for museums, the cracks are still visible and very much a part of an item’s history. The damage does not diminish the cultural or heritage value of the item, or the skill of the artist.

My familiarity with the pots of Ancient Greece led me to have a quick look in the British Museum’s online catalogue for my favourite Attic vase painter, Exekias. The very first amphora I saw would be a fine example piece for such a project.

(Apologies for the rough-and-ready illustrative art.)

There are so many ways such a game could be organised. Perhaps the player could repair ceramics from all over the world but within a particular era, for comparison. Or perhaps they could opt to work through a variety of items from Ancient Greece before moving on to some from Mexico. Maybe they could even select ceramics by the country or museums that hold them today.

Would the reward for completing a ceramic be its history, tidbits of information on the style or manufacture, the real world location of the item? If a particular museum sponsored the app, perhaps some sort of physical reward could be offered.

What I like so much about this is that the idea is so simple. Granted, it’d be much easier to make a 2D version, given the nature of the existing assets, than a mimic of the 3D Kintsukuroi, but I don’t think that’s a problem.

Perhaps this is a project for a games jam?

For more information about Kintsukuroi, I suggest reading Chelsea Saunders’s devlopment blog here.

The game is, at time of writing, available for free for Android devices on the Google Play store.