Game Oven - Fingle
Nominated by Niki Smit:
Game Oven
for Fingle

I nominate Adriaan de Jongh and Bojan Endrovski of the game company Game Oven for their infectious iPad game Fingle. It constitutes an exceptionally successful example of a new direction in game design in which social interaction is rendered physical again by means of a virtual screen. This game is not about points but about the interaction elicited between the players in real space.

At first glance, Fingle looks like nothing more than finger Twister, but it goes much deeper than that. Game Oven has developed a unique take on gameplay design. Their games go beyond the screen to incorporate physical social interaction and are thus personal and penetrating.

Fingle is a game for iPad in which two players place and move fingers on the screen in increas­ingly complicated arrangements. The fun of the game comes from the awkward, sometimes flirtatious situations it generates. It is less about winning or scoring points than it is about the players themselves, engaged in a moment of genuine, physical contact. Feelings of shyness, awkwardness, eroticism, flirtatiousness and the pleasure of physical contact all come up in this simple game.

Fingle plays out only partly on the screen: 90 per cent of the challenges take place between the players. This is what gives the design its power and makes it stand out.

The designers astutely combine simple gameplay with accurate predictions of how people will respond in a social setting. The screen-tran­scending design, in which the designers end up guiding physical social behaviour, comes in the package of an accessible commercial iPad game. Suggestive 1970s music accompanies a playful look. The whole is simple, addictive and complete.

Inside the humorous package, though, is a game that pushes the envelope when it comes to social rules, boundaries and conventions. In a landscape of games where people often connect solely online, Fingle’s interaction design recognises the fact that human beings are physical and social creatures and takes this as its point of departure.

This method of designing harbours great potential for new directions in game design. Game Oven understands that games don’t need to be shackled to the context of their medium. They acknowledge players as real people who exist in two worlds simultaneously – physical reality and the virtual realm of the game – and success­fully bridge the two. The result is a game that intervenes in and enriches the real world.

For me, Fingle embodies the idea of designing for people, not “players” – an important and salutary idea.

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