After almost one month since it has been released, people are starting to talk more about Please, Touch The Artwork. This includes the head, and only developer behind the game, Thomas Waterzooi. But even before Waterzooi talked about his game during a recent interview with IGN, people began speaking on Please, Touch The Artwork before it was released. Winning awards and getting recognition across Tokyo, Brazil, and Paris, to name a few places, was an early indicator in development that things were headed in the right direction. After working at IO Interactive on Hitman and at Larian Studios on Divinity Original Sin, Waterzooi set out to do something different, something “cultural.” With the aim of exploring, “the human condition,” and having Will Gompertz’s modern art history book, “What Are You Looking At,” as inspiration, Waterzooi found his target. What started out as his eponymous, “Mondrian generator,” after the Dutch abstract painter whom Waterzooi presumably encountered reading Gompertz, ended as “part Zen-puzzle, part narrative-adventure.”
Waterzooi’s goal(s) with his first independent game stems from a certain perspective and philosophy of design. The perspective is that each one of the 150 plus painting puzzles in the game begins with an approach like that of an “average person,” devoid of a background in art history.
The joy is in approaching these paintings with just enough context and theory not to spoil it
Playing and designing with this approach in mind, can help “bring [art] to everybody,” so that people will feel inclined to, “go to the museum”, if they like the game. Now before you start thinking that Waterzooi is some art purist or evangelist, just wait. He told IGN’s Rebekah Valentine that,
You should be able to accept that some art is bull—,…Some people think art is always a positive word by itself, but actually it’s not true
With this casual and subjective approach to art, Waterzooi plans to create more games focused on other painters. However, beyond hopefully promoting art research in players, he also wants to further the new design philosophy of “wholesomeness”. For instance, Waterzooi says this philosophy means that games will be designed with a lack skill requirements and time constraints to take pressure off of the player.
This lack of pressure will, hopefully, allow players of Please, Touch The Artwork the space to gain not only a broader opinion but also experience aesthetic satisfation. Guided by the nontraditional design manifesto Rejecta, articulated by Pietro Righi Riva, and with encouragement from successful titles like Monument Valley and What Remains of Edith Finch, we can expect more relaxing video games in the future from Studio Waterzooi.