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1917 – A minimalist mobile game [WIP]


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El-Lissitzky’s thought provoking composition, “Beat the Whites with Red Wedge”, was always inspirational for me. I was at high school when I first saw it. The painting was created in 1919 as a Soviet propaganda poster and I was simply impressed that so much meaning can be conveyed through the use of so little. Later on, I wondered: can we translate this composition into a gameplay?

In the composition, the red triangle represents bolsheviks, known as communists, and hints at Red Army that was established immediately after the revolution. The white circle, on the other hand, symbolizes the White movement, or described as the military army of Imperial Russia and the force that fought against bolsheviks. Besides, it is also possible to see Russian text rendered on the painting, which is the title of composition. Furthermore, this litographic painting is also an important example to illustrate constructivist art movement in Soviet Russia and it became popular in West when the artist moved to East Germany in 1921.

My passion to understand the painting has led me to work on different prototype manifestations. However, it was hard to find an idea since there were concrete constraints in terms of visual elements, colors and composition. Nevertheless, I kept experimenting.

After trying out several prototypes, I think I managed to create mechanics that conveys the meaning I’m looking for. The first playable prototype, “proof of concept” is on, Right now, there are eight functional levels but due to some technical problems, I can’t show it publicly yet. However, playtests were promising and I’m looking forward to complete the game. Obviously, the most challenging part of the game is that almost nobody knows the painting, which is not necessarily a bad thing. That’s another design challenge that I try to overcome by referring to real historical events as non-diegetic elements in-between levels. The ultimate goal is to translate the experience of revolution through gameplay mechanics and inform players about relevant historical facts. And although it is playable on a computer, the final game will be released on mobile as the controls work better with touch input and in fact, there will be levels where multitouch input is required and you have to collaborate with other people to beat the game. Collaboration also fits to the concept. My objective is to complete 15 levels and release the game during summer, after handing in my thesis.  The game will be released for free on Android so expect more to come and stay tuned.  And, here is the final pitch for 1917:

“A minimalist game in which you control a triangle in order to lead a revolution



Drag: Drag your Red Wedge on the screen to lead the revolution

Merge: Merge your triangle with others to recruit new comrades

Beat: Destroy the White when you are powerful

• Minimal art style: Enjoy minimalist yet functional aesthetic of 1917


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