A Q&A Conversation with the Creator of Metrico, The Infographic-Inspired Video Game

Infographics are more than mainstream; they’re moving into the immersive entertainment world. The new video game Metrico (great name, even better tagline: A Game About Infographics and Free Will), was inspired by—of all things—infographics.

Mirroring the minimalist infographic design aesthetic and gamifying users’ data input, Metrico combines all our favorite things: design, data, and interactivity. Take a look:

Metrico is the first release from Digital Dreams, a new Netherlands-based indie gaming studio aiming to “contribute meaningful and enriching experiences that push the boundaries of interactive entertainment.”

We recently chatted with Metrico Game Designer and Art Director Geert “Gene” Nellens to learn more about the inspiration behind the game.

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When did you first become interested in infographics/data visualization?

At Digital Dreams, we try to get inspiration from other media and forms of art than just games. Sometimes we get the feeling it is redundant to make another fantasy or retro-themed game. There are lots of fantasy games already being made, and when I want to play a retro game, why not pick up one of the thousands of great games made in the past? It feels like a shame to not draw inspiration from fields like motion graphics, graphic design, or data visualization.

Newspapers and broadcasting are using infographics more and more. People want to consume [content] fast, and infographics are a beautiful and effective way to visualize complex data. And you can make them very ugly, like in PowerPoint or like stuff in most textbooks, but they can be astonishingly beautiful as well. That’s probably the reason why we saw infographics increasingly show up in pop culture in the last couple of years as well. The beauty of infographics are definitely a big inspiration.

Metrico Game

Why does the infographic aesthetic appeal to you?

We saw infographics evolve into an art form, and we really liked the minimalistic aesthetic of charts. We think there is just a lot of elegance and beauty in the clean and abstract—and also a very strong visual language that is infographics. It’s an art form, and it is all about communication in composition, which makes it perfect for games. 

Metrico

Why did you feel a puzzle game was the best genre for a data visualization-related game?

When you strip down games to their bare essentials, it’s just about numbers: You have to kill a boss in Zelda by shooting it 3 times in the eye, which is on position “XYZ.” You have to eat all 240 dots in Pac-Man, and in Prince of Persia you can’t make the jump, which is 40 pixels wide. If you leave out the visuals, that’s really all there will be left.

I think this minimalistic approach to game systems is interesting. We built a world out of that, and we saw that it’s a lot of fun to become fully aware of all the things you do and input you give when playing a game. It turned out to be even more fun to let the player figure all of these numbers out themselves. Maybe this minimalism is a part of Dutch design; I don’t know. It just really fits for a data visualization-related game.

Metrico Game 2

What was the biggest challenge in devising the game mechanics?

The hardest thing was making choices—which type of infographics fit the puzzles in the game.

What were your design influences for the game?

Basically lots and lots of different infographic images, as well as lots of motion graphics. There is a lot out there. It all started with the work of Jacques Bertin, though.

Q&A: WHY METRICO’S GAME DESIGNERS WERE INSPIRED BY INFOGRAPHICS

What’s your favorite infographic or chart type, and why?

That’s a very hard question. I looked at soooo many infographics, so many designers and their work. Of course, Jacques Bertin was a good start, but I personally like the more imaginative, abstract, and out-of-the-box work. I look at a lot of animated infographic and abstract art. Also a lot of architecture. There are some contemporary artists like Mr. Div or Josh Lewandowski; their work is pretty cool!

Anything last words?

Stay curious!

Follow Geert Nellen, and check out Metrico for PS Vita.

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