Truth be told, I rarely pay for a mobile app. Most apps tend to be free or have free versions, and I’ve rarely come across an app that I actually liked enough to financially endorse. The exception to this rule is Monument Valley.
If you haven’t heard of this app, you’re missing out. Monument Valley is a game app that presents the user with puzzles in the form of “Get from point A to point B”. There are two things about this app that make it so special. The first is its tendency to defy physics and the second is its gorgeous design. There are levels upon levels of architecture that are deliciously geometric, perfectly colored, and impossibly beautiful.
I’d say there are two key points of a game app and the creators of Monument Valley have them nailed to a T. The first is the UX design. UX design is “user interface” which is a fancy way of saying “how the user interacts with the app”. The user simply touches a spot on the path and the protagonist, Ida, will go there if she is able to. The really fun part comes in when physics are completely ignored. If the opportunity arises, Ida can walk upright, sideways, and upside-down, all in the course of a few steps. It’s also the case that the structures themselves follow a M. C. Escher-esque world where walking down the right staircase will get you to the top of the structure.
The second key point here is, of course, the stunning aesthetic brought forth by this impossible world. There is a wonderfully diverse set of landscapes, from a charming windmill, to the depth of a volcanic cave, to constellations in literal space! All these different levels also are able to incorporate a sameness, despite different color schemes, through their blocky and geometric design.
From a design standpoint, the real reason why this app sticks out among thousands of other game apps (even well designed ones) is because of its intense dedication. You can tell there’s been so much care and careful planning put into each level. You can tell the desire and drive for smooth, near-perfect movement wasn’t compromised. And you can also tell that this was not made for or by hurried people. In a world of instant gratification, Monument Valley has carefully examined every detail and planned every aspect with precision and dedication.
Thankfully, things like Monument Valley aren’t as rare as they were a few years ago. With the world at our fingertips, we have the ability to more easily support the things we love and there’s a decent margin of people who prefer the carefully-made, the hand-crafted, the small-business-owned, and the labor-of-love things. We can easily see this trend from things like kickstarter.com, hipsters who only go to the local coffee shop, and even organizations like Ten Thousand Villiages who sell items made by women across the globe in order to provide economic opportunities that they might otherwise not have.
This kind of passion and dedication found in both Monument Valley, as well as so many other growing projects and small businesses, is a really encouraging trend because we’re promoting creativity and enthusiasm while also creating an economy that more heavily factors things like goodwill and ethical practices rather than just shopping wherever the cheapest items can be bought, or downloading an app just because it’s free.
As we move towards this trend being the norm, I think it’s not too far of a stretch to say that the quality of our everyday will get better. We’ll feel good in knowing that we’re supporting good things and good people, and we’ll also enjoy what we receive more (craft beer, anyone?). Now, I know this isn’t too related to design but, if we take what we know about design and apply it at a bigger scope, I think I can make a connection. Design is about finding the best and quickest solution for communication. Supporting small businesses with big dreams may not be the quickest method but I do think that, through encouraging passion for what people care about and supporting those who need support, investing in the big dreams of others is the best solution out there.
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