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Israeli architect invents popular Sudoku spin-off

Posted By Ilana Teitelbaum On June 28, 2009 @ 12:00 am In | No Comments

A fascination with artists M.C. Esher and Bridget Riley led an Israeli architect to develop a new form of Sudoku that uses three-dimensional shapes to create the game.

When you open the morning paper you may find that alongside the traditional crossword and Sudoku games, there is now a new, complex form of Sudoku called Tredoku.

The 3-D game, which has recently taken off and is in syndication in newspapers around the world, was invented by Israeli architect Eyal Amitzur. What began as a design challenge for Amitzur is now an internationally popular game with its own Facebook group of more than 4,500 fans.

Amitzur, 33, explains that the appeal of Tredoku is that it takes the same rules as the addictive Sudoku, but with the additional challenge of playing within three-dimensional shapes, which forces the player to use different methods to win the game. It’s more fun, he points out, to play a game that doesn’t look the same all the time.

“For me the visual side of a game is very important,” Amitzur tells ISRAEL21c. “While studying in Milan, I went to many art exhibitions and sat in bookstores for hours. M.C. Escher, the graphic artist with his impossible worlds has influenced the Tredoku design, as well as artist Bridget Riley of the Op-Art movement, who made amazing paintings that ‘pop out’ of the flat canvas.”

An infinite number of 3-D shapes

Two years ago, Amitzur was introduced to Sudoku. He quickly realized that he was finding the game monotonous because the design of the game doesn’t change. Designers like Escher inspired Amitzur to take the Sudoku template and play with the design. The result became Tredoku, a Sudoku-based game with an infinite number of possible 3-D shapes.

Amitzur’s first big break came at the end of last year. He had been sending Tredoku to many newspapers, without success. But he had also been receiving encouraging feedback from mathematicians in Oxford, Harvard, and Stanford universities.

It was The Times in Britain that first agreed to print a Tredoku game as a special Christmas feature last year. The game ended up being featured on the cover, and was a hit with the Times’ readership.

“People sent emails to the newspaper that they really liked Tredoku,” Amitzur relates. One email said, “‘After three years of the same square, this is a really nice twist.’”

Games that make you think

Heeding the enthusiastic feedback, The Times took on Tredoku as a weekly feature. The game is now also in syndication in newspapers in Denmark, Australia, Chile, Belgium, and Italy.

Amitzur describes how his architectural background came into play in the design process: “When you work in architecture, you have to show the building from many angles – you have to show it in a 3-D view. So my idea was to move Sudoku to an architectural place. I thought, instead of just showing the fa├žade, let’s break it down and see what can be done with multiple angles. I started getting really interesting designs.”

Amitzur’s ambition is that Tredoku will someday be as much a household name as Sudoku. “My company has all kinds of plans, but the basic idea is that we’d like Tredoku to be kind of a brother of Sudoku – the rules are the same as Sudoku but the designs keep changing, and it’s also an optical challenge. If enough people like it around the world, then we’ll be developing a game that will somehow be as widespread as Sudoku – in newspapers, magazines and cell phones.”

But the main thing, Amitzur adds, is to never forget the purpose at the heart of designing games. “What’s most important to me is that my games make people think, and enjoy themselves.”


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