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In the media spotlight

This week has been a bit bananas for Barney Wornoff.

The Seneca Animation and Independent Illustration Professor’s phone has been ringing off the hook with media requests to discuss an online video game and T-shirt he helped develop based on Darwin — the monkey who made global headlines during Christmas after he was captured wandering in a Toronto Ikea wearing a shearling coat.

In the game, players control “a Darwin look-a-like” to piece together an Ikea shelf. Although the game may sound easy, players have to find all the necessary parts and avoid the obstacles standing in Darwin’s way, including runaway shopping carts and customers.

The College caught up with Barney to find out how this unique project took shape.

Why did you want to create this game?

A: We had the idea for a T-shirt first, but it was lonely on the Internet all by itself, and we wanted to draw more people to the site and shirt, so we made the IKEA Monkey Game.

How long did it take you to create the game?

A: We made it in under a week. It was crazy fast. We had the idea on one Friday, and by the next, it was online with a few hundred hits.

Who else was involved in the project with you?

A: Half of the graduates that worked on this game were from the Illustration program. The monkey design, the shirts, and the programming were all done by my Illustration grads. The background and characters were done by my Animation grads.

Here’s who made-up the Seneca team

  • Daniel Whiffing (Independent Illustration grad) action script programming
  • J.J. Dukharan (Independent Illustration grad) monkey design, shirt printer
  • Rafa Bale (Animation grad) art director, animator, prop and character design
  • Timothy Wong (Independent Illustration grad) shirt printer
  • Adam Peerbaye (Animation grad) background design, character walk
  • Samantha Braithwaite (Animation grad) character and prop design
  • Stephanie Braithwaite (Animation grad) character and prop design
  • Charles D Jones (Animation grad) side car design

How are the T-shirt sales going and any idea how many people have visited your website?

A: We sold a few shirts before Christmas and figured it was over at that point, but then it caught on like wildfire, and we've had over 16,000 hits on the site. It started with an article in Metro and Grid online, then the Toronto Star picked up the story, then Global TV jumped on board with a feature news story, and from there it went global! There are game reviews on U.S. games sites, it was on the UK Metro news under “weird news,” and we've sold shirts as far away as Australia and Budapest.

Where can people play the game?

A: The game is available here:
You can also play it on newgrounds, a game website.

Did the owner of the Ikea monkey comment on your T-shirt and video game?

A: She emailed us and said she liked the game. She said "it would have been a nicer game if it broke out of monkey jail and got back to its mommy." She was glad we understood it was in JAIL.

Are you planning on creating anything else?

A: We weren't planning on it, but since this blew up so crazy and since we have such a talented bunch of grads we're starting to throw around some ideas. We might let loose a baboon in the Best Buy parking lot dressed in a designer coat and see what happens...(not really).

Final thoughts?

A: We are challenging everyone to try and beat the game, and if you manage to help Darwin build his BILLY shelf, then at the last screen after the credits your score comes up and you are invited to take a buddy shot with your cell phone and then email it to us at We're posting all the buddy shots on our blog.