Arts & CultureCultural Affairs

Dat App: Data Wing

2-D racer raises bar for mobile game design

Data Wing
Designed by Dan Vogt
Android, iOS
Free


For decades now, the bar has been set very low for mobile games.

Games like Flappy Bird, Temple Run, and even the legendary Brick Breaker have entranced hundreds of millions of people with the simplest of quests and, dare I say, the ugliest of graphics. We all deserve better.

In zooms Data Wing to the rescue: a mobile game that’s turned the industry on its head. With intuitive controls and beautiful design, Data Wing uses the video game medium to tell a story in addition to providing an engaging interactive experience for the player.

The player’s avatar is a small cursor-like triangle, that is, a “data wing,” carrying bits of data from one place to another. They are controlled by the omnipresent Mother as she performs tests, learns more about people, and begins to experience emotions. However, as the beloved data wing proceeds, they run into another character, Rogue. She is much more carefree than Mother and is pleased to meet the humble and mute triangle. Rogue recruits them for their own purposes in gaining permissions and user data in a more benevolent way or so it would seem.

Data Wing is a 2-D racer at heart, with tracks requiring the player to complete timed laps and race computer-controlled data wings to complete quests. Within the game’s fiction, the data wing carries literal bits of data, ones and zeroes, to the end of the track as efficiently as possible to please Mother.

Beyond its cryptic story and gameplay, the game’s audiovisual design has a delightfully retro feel, with bright neon highlights and plenty of Vaporwave music to keep its mood calm and easygoing.

Designed by one man, Dan Vogt, this app perfectly exemplifies what can go right when video games are designed for a phone, taking advantage of the phone’s capabilities while paying attention to the range of emotion and storytelling that video games can convey. If game studios are held to this level of quality going forward, then the future is bright for mobile games.

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