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Retro-Style Game Wants To Become The "Tetris Of The Instagram Generation"

"Icons Do Better" is a stack-and-match video game that merges Tetris, Minecraft, and semiotics.

by Kevin Holmes
Jul 21 2014, 1:45pm

New gaming app Icon Do Better throws together the block-building addictions of Tetris with the community aspect of Minecraft, and delivers it to you through the retro stylings of 1980s graphics and sounds. Players have to match falling icons before they fill up the screen and it's game over. To clear the items from your screen you have to contribute a design for a new icon, which is then incorporated into the game.

The app was created by Ed Burton, artist and researcher at Queen Mary University of London (QMUL), who designed it to replicate the gaming experience of old school 8-bit computers like the ZX Spectrum, even down to the pixels flickering and blurring like they would on a low-res screen. Burton's previous apps include Tunetrace, which turned photographed drawings into music.

Tetris has long been a classic, while Minecraft has had a huge impact as part of a new wave of games that encourage collaborative play," notes Burton in the press release. "What we wanted to do here was combine the aspects of both games, in a retro style, which will appeal to both a new generation of gamers and those of us that grew up in the early days of computing with Spectrums and Commodores. The launch of this game is particularly timely as it is the thirty year anniversary of Tetris, and we hope this can become the Tetris of the Instagram generation.”

We'll have to wait and see. As well as simulating gaming from our distant past and winning us over with nostalgia, the game is also being used as a research tool for interactive medical devices. The way players create and match new icons will be studied and the information used to improve icon design for future device interfaces, like infusion pumps, helping eradicate errors and confusion. Download the app here and find out more on the game's project page.


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