A downloadable game
SIHEYU4N is a cooperative action-puzzle video game for 4 players we prototyped in collaboration with Aran Koning within the context of a+a architecture studio's Branding Siheyuan exhibition curated by Fabrizio Gurrado at Beijing Design Week 2015 (Baitasi ReMade Design HOP area).
SIHEYU4N is conceived as a multiplayer variation on classic falling-block puzzle mechanics: 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.
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 (Beijing's historical courtyards) residence concept, where 4 families used to live together on the 4 sides of a common "quadrangle". That's also our creative take on Fabrizio's brilliant 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 stands - "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 mildly inspired by Peking Opera masks so to ingrain a subtle "human touch" within the visual style.
The playable prototype of SIHEYU4N - also featuring a music track by our collaborator on Venti Mesi, Francesco Fontana - has been installed at a+a's Branding Siheyuan exhibition, in a fascinating abandoned hutong building at the core of peaceful Baitasi neighborhood, from September 25th to October 7th 2015 (opening hours: everyday 10-19; spot number 13 on BJDW's Baitasi ReMade official map - 129-131 West Gongmenkou Hutong, Xicheng District, Beijing - just a 5-minute walk in the east direction along Fuchengmen Inner Street from exit B of Fuchengmen subway station, Line 2).