Queen Mary Innovation

New Game Combines the Fun of Tetris with the Teamwork of Minecraft, and all in an 80s Style

QApps, Queen Mary University of London's app store, has released Icon Do Better, a new social twist on classic games like Tetris that stack and match falling blocks or icons in a race to keep the screen from overflowing.

21 July 2014

The challenge is to clear your screen by stacking matching sets of icons, the twist is that to delete them you need to contribute the design for a new matching icon, so every person playing worldwide is making and matching icons with you.

Icon Do Better is available from the Apple store and can be downloaded at QApps or the Apple App Store, and a demo video demonstration of the game can be found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9yTthJ-bDI0

The game was developed by Ed Burton, an artist and researcher at QMUL who has been involved in a number of projects combining art and science. For players who miss the 1980s and remember their first experiences of a Spectrum computer for gaming, the screen replicates the retro feel of those early games. Tilting the screen shows the chunky pixels flicker and blur as if they’re floating in the thick glass of an old low resolution screen.

Commenting on Icon Do Better, Ed said: "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. 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."

Icon Do Better is a fun game with a serious side. The app was developed as part of CHI+MED, an EPSRC funded initiative to help improve the safety of interactive medical devices.

Peter McOwan, VP Public Engagement and Student Enterprise at QMUL and a researcher on CHI+MED, said: "Gamification and crowdsourcing are increasingly being used to help solve difficult problems. With this app, not only do we have a fantastic game, but also a novel way to collect information on how players match and create their new icons, the results of which could help make the icons on future device interfaces easier for humans to understand."

Adam Daykin, Head of Technology Transfer, Technology and Engineering at Queen Mary Innovation, added: "Apps are becoming an increasingly significant global business, and the combination of art and technology, as a way of creating both a compelling game experience, and helping drive important underlying research is an area where QMUL arguably leads the way."