"SIHEYU4N" is a cooperative action-puzzle game for 4 players of all ages and types, conceived as a multiplayer variation on classic falling-block mechanics.
Inspired by the architectural tradition of "siheyuan" (historical courtyards of Beijing, China), goal of the game is to place the blocks in the correspondent colored slots of the central grid but - as each player controls one area of the game and each area spawns blocks of one color - players have to pass and receive blocks to/from the other ones, talking, sharing a strategy and cooperating together in order to complete the full grid, in a short, abstract, playful reproduction of traditional Chinese sociality.
"SIHEYU4N" has been originally prototyped as a site-specific installation within the context of a+a architecture studio's "Branding Siheyuan" exhibition during Beijing Design Week 2015 (Baitasi ReMade Design HOP area, exhibition curated by architect Fabrizio Gurrado).
By setting 4 players around a shared playable “square" and making them interact with each other towards a collaborative goal, "SIHEYU4N" aims at abstractly and playfully reproduce the experience of social aggregation of the original "siheyuan" residence concept, where 4 families used to live together on the 4 sides of a common "quadrangle".
That was also our creative take on the curator's concept to approach the siheyuan issue not from a purely architectural point of view but from a broader cultural one, because - as the exhibition manifesto stated - “demolishing an idea is more difficult than simply demolishing a wall".
To add on the game's overall Chinese mood, the 4+1 colors of the blocks and their orientation are taken from Chinese traditional theory of the five elements (black as north, white as west, red as south, “grue" as east and yellow as center - yellow being the in-game special-colored block that has the power to erase previously-placed blocks in order to undo mistakes), while the blocks' decorations are inspired by patterns of Peking Opera masks so to ingrain a subtle “human touch" within the visual style.
Design & Art by We Are Müesli (Claudia Molinari & Matteo Pozzi)
Development by Aran Koning
Sound & Music by Francesco Fontana