Mike Slaats

What we can learn from Monument Valley

monument valley

So, to be honest, I’m not really a gamer. I own a Playstation 4 and there are days, especially with friends, that I tend to play, well, only one game to fair, I sometimes play Fifa and that’s about it. But a year ago I discovered a very fascinating game on mobile (I even listed it as one of my favorite apps in this vlog) and I honestly think, we as entrepreneurs can learn from this game, not only by playing it but especially if you look at the foundation and psychology of this game.

So first of all, it’s a game called Monument Valley, and it’s absolutely one of the best-designed games I’ve ever seen. In this game, you’re playing this little character called Ida and you’re playing these levels that are basically designed as puzzles.

Monument valley games

In these worlds, you have to figure out how to bring Ida from start to the end point of the game and you can only do this by thinking in different perspectives, which immediately is the first lesson you can learn from this game, because well, as an entrepreneur, we too, have to think from different perspectives from time to time, right?

Monument Valley: Learning from its success

But the real lessons from this game are around gamification. So, when I was blown away by its design I looked up some things about the foundation of the game and I came a across this video from Ken Wong, the lead designer at Monument Valley:

In this video, he explained how they had the final breakthrough after working with hundreds of sketches for the game, which he wasn’t really convinced about.

MC Escher inspired the game

So one day, Ken came across a photo of the Dutch artist MC Escher called ‘The Impossible World’, which was a photo of a building where you, as the viewer, could see all the stairs, rooms, and parts of the building in just 1 picture and so Ken noticed that this photo wasn’t really focused on the characters in the building, but on the building itself as if you, the viewer, was playing God.

MC Escher Monument Valley

And so, based on this photo, they redesigned the game with the same thought of giving the player a sort of God view with superpowers who controlled the little Character, Ida, in the game.


Now, the real trick of the game, besides it being beautifully designed, was that the player at first looked at the levels as “hard puzzles”, almost impossible to solve, but they actually designed the levels to be really easy so from the moment you are starting to play, you really feel like God and you feel so smart for solving such “hard puzzles”.

So the key lesson from this game I just wanted to share, which you can apply to your product as well, for example, if you’re creating software: Make it beautiful, but keep it simple.