Empty is a minimalistic Zen game that emphasizes the simplicity of life as described by its creator. The concept behind the game is to focus on the Bauhaus concept by Ludwig Mies Van Der Rohe, “Less is More.” The game has a simplistic narrative to get rid of the material things and create a minimalistic environment and blend into nothing. The game has 19 levels with different room setups that need to declutter. There are a few hints and quotes you receive while enjoying the game. 

Architectural review of the game: Empty – Dustyroom - Sheet1
Empty game Screenshot ©dustyroom.com

As the game begins, there is a room that can be rotated to be a view from any angle and you have to blend every object present into nothingness till all the walls become white. When you start playing, the game is provided as a sense of calm and Zen feeling because everything will blend and create a white space. This game derives a lot of principles from the Bauhaus movement and the Japanese design.

As the room rotates around you, you may observe that the walls are defined only in your perspective because as soon as you shift, different walls become active. This aspect of the game is a reminder of the Bauhaus principle “Form follows Function.” Architecture and interior design are all about the perspective of the person observing the room. In this game, shifting perspectives is the main move. The room is different from every perspective and, to complete the levels you have to keep shifting your perspective. The main focus is on the structure of the room because you are trying to blend objects into the surfaces all around. It’s the surfaces and their colors that are important; the only thing surviving is the white surfaces of the room in the end. In Japanese houses, there are usually no permanent walls. They can be easily moved to rearrange the layout, similar to the game in which walls are the matter of perspective of the player. The walls provide a neutral background for the inhabitants to create their environment, as in the game they provide a background for the objects to blend into. 

Architectural review of the game: Empty – Dustyroom - Sheet2
Image 2 – Empty room visual ©dustyroom.com

The objects and the rooms follow the minimalistic principles of the design and are linear and geometric with clear lines avoiding any large curvilinear forms. Japanese design and lifestyle have an immense influence from minimalism and decluttering of excess materials from your home to create a balanced life. This concept was revolutionized on the world stage by Marie Kondo as she explained the notion of ‘Spark joy,’ in which you communicate with everything you own and only move forward with objects that generate a feeling of spark joy in your heart. In the game similarly, you are moving forward with the materials you need and you are decluttering the room.

The void is another important notion of Japanese design. The promise of emptiness is everything. Nothingness is a free-range space for imagination to run wild, for creativity to flow. It is like a canvas of an artist where you could create anything there, no rules and, all that matters is your perspective. In empty, you are shifting your perspective to create a void, a nothingness that would carry you forward. The void can be seen as a dark and lonely place. But it is the opposite if you shift your perspective. It is an opportunity to begin again and always create something new, to experiment. It enhances our perception of our lives and enriches our relationship with our surroundings. It helps create a better relationship with our materials and objects.

Every time you blend every object in the room, the walls and surfaces turn white because white symbolizes purity and emptiness and it is used in abundance in Japanese homes. In our homes, everything is vibrant but, white has a quality of being delicate and an accumulation of something greater. The white color is attained by blending all other colors and as in the game after, all the objects are blended the room turns white.

The Bauhaus movement also encouraged acceptance. No need to add ornamentation to make something beautiful. They are striking as they are. It embraces the simplicity and the effectiveness of that simplicity on the mind of the inhabitant. The minimalism clears everything ornamental from life and declutters the house and the mind. Empty speaks to the user in a way a Zen minimalist home would. You go inside the room and declutter it and it creates a joyful experience in your mind. The game has calming music being played in the background to transport you to that Zen environment. It is a strictly minimalistic game that is minimalistic in its design as well as gameplay and, it is not about winning but creating an aura for the player.


Taapsi Nayyar, a recent post graduate in Interior Architecture and Spatial Design from Edinburgh College of Art, United Kingdom. She is an avid reader and painter with a passion for art, culture and architecture. Furthermore, she is working on exploring the relationship betweeninterior design theories and their impact on the psychological behavior of users.

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