New Iranian Video Game, Engare, Explores the Elegant Geometry of Islamic Art

The inter­sec­tion of math­e­mat­ics and art holds out great poten­tial for not just end­less dis­cov­er­ies but deeply mem­o­rable cre­ations. The 20th-cen­tu­ry vision­ary M.C. Esch­er under­stood that, but so did the Islam­ic artists of cen­turies before that inspired him. They’ve also inspired the Iran­ian game devel­op­er Mah­di Bahra­mi, whose newest effort Engare stands at the cross of math­e­mat­ics, art, and tech­nol­o­gy, a puz­zle video game that chal­lenges its play­ers to com­plete the kind of bril­liant­ly col­or­ful, math­e­mat­i­cal­ly rig­or­ous, and at once both strik­ing­ly sim­ple and strik­ing­ly com­plex pat­terns seen in tra­di­tion­al Islam­ic art and design.

“The leap from the bare bones pro­to­type to it becom­ing a game about cre­at­ing art was a small one, giv­en that Islam­ic art is steeped in math­e­mat­i­cal knowl­edge,” writes Kill Screen’s Chris Priest­man.

“The visu­al flair of Islam­ic art also helps to fur­ther ensure that Engare doesn’t ever feel ‘dry.’ Yes, it’s a game about math, but there are no dull equa­tions to solve. Yet, the same ideas that those equa­tions belong to are approached in Engare, just from a dif­fer­ent angle and one that Bahra­mi reck­ons can also evoke emo­tions. You can see this in mes­mer­iz­ing action in the game­play trail­er just above.

“There are geo­met­ri­cal shapes that make us feel hap­py, pat­terns that make some­one nervous/hypnotized, the tiling of a ceil­ing can make some­one feel lone­ly,” Priest­man quotes Bahra­mi as writ­ing. He’s done this sort of emo­tion­al think­ing about visu­al math­e­mat­ics before: his pre­vi­ous game Farsh “had you rolling out Per­sian car­pets in such a way as to cre­ate paths across the lev­els,” and his next one Tan­dis is “inspired by Celtic shapes, and is a wild and unpre­dictable exper­i­ment in topo­graph­i­cal trans­for­ma­tion.” If you’d like to give Engare a try, you can get it from its web­site or on Steam. When the 21st cen­tu­ry’s M.C. Esch­er dis­cov­ers Islam­ic art, will he do it through the medi­um of video games?

via Kill Screen

Relat­ed Con­tent:

The Com­plex Geom­e­try of Islam­ic Art & Design: A Short Intro­duc­tion

Back to Bed: A New Video Game Inspired by the Sur­re­al Art­work of Esch­er, Dali & Magritte

Cal­i­forni­um: New Video Game Lets You Expe­ri­ence the Sur­re­al World of Philip K. Dick

Ancient Greek Pun­ish­ments: The Retro Video Game

Math­e­mat­ics Made Vis­i­ble: The Extra­or­di­nary Math­e­mat­i­cal Art of M.C. Esch­er

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities and cul­ture. His projects include the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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