zen boundLast week I came across something rather fresh that I had not seen before. This drew our office around the screen to see what exactly this new iphone app was about. It took a while for us to wrap our heads around the new iphone game we were curiously looking at.

The game is developed by a small Finnish game developing company called Secret Exit. They describe themselves as 100 per cent independent game developer company by two guys with some game industry experience and modest merits, who have set up a shop to create refreshingly different, innovative, and -most importantly- fun games.zen bound

This is how the company describes Zen Bound, the game:

Zen Bound is difficult to describe. It is a game as much as a toy or simply an experience.

One user eloquently described the game in an iTunes review: “I thought this would be cool but all you do is wrap string around wood.” and his 1-star rating proves that our game is certainly not for everyone.

In a nutshell, you have a wooden sculpture which you need to paint by shifting the object into various ankles as a rope is pulled by a imaginary third party. At the same times as the rope is wrapping itself around the wooden object, it also lays down a track of paint. Goal of course being able to paint the whole scupture. Might sound easy and straight forward, but it can get pretty challenging. There’s also no time limit, which makes the iphone app more an experience than a game. You can read a more comprehensive review here, and see a demo below. Pocket Gamer who wrote the review nailed the idea of the game: The emphasis lies in experiencing the sheer joy of the interaction. Similarly, IGN Wireless wrote that with Zen Bound boundaries aren’t being pushed here; they’re getting shattered. The app sets you back 3.99€ at iTunes App Store.

Secret Exit announces that they target all home entertainment platforms where games can be digitally downloaded, but clearly the possibility to develop for a distribution channel like App Store expands the market significantly. Here’s good analysis by an ex-Jaiku developer, Teemu Kurppa on why App Store is a game changer. Not only that, only now that we have a device like iphone we start to see games like Zen Bound that really redefine what is a great mobile app, game or otherwise. Iphone enables, the very first time, truly new innovation and fresh thinking in designing interaction on a mobile device, of which Zen Bound is a perfect example. I believe this one example is just the tip of the ice berg of what’s to come. Mix in some powerful computing running the back end in the cloud and streaming it to your iphone and you’ll be amazed what we’re about to see in the very near future. Decreasing growth in laptop sales numbers will be only the first symptom of this.