Specimen Challenges Player’s Perceptions of Color


Peprally’s mobile game Specimen challenges players to see how accurately they can identify and match colors.

“Do you see the world the way I see the world?” is a question that probably doesn’t cross most people’s minds every day. If you see the color blue, it’s perfectly natural to assume that the person standing next to you sees it the same way that you do. The thing is, that there’s actually a fair chance that they don’t. As some recent phenomena have demonstrated, different sets of eyes and different conditions can completely change how individuals see the world and the hues that color it. At first glance, that fact might not sound like natural fodder for a video game. As the software studio Peprally recently demonstrated however, even something as simple as color can lead to a good game.

“We were throwing around ideas for new projects,” explained Peprally owner Erica Gorochow speaking to The Escapist. Not sure what to do Gorochow and her colleague Sal Randazzo decided to take a swing at making a video game. The only problem was that neither of them had ever worked on a gaming project before. Not wanting to overstretch themselves, they decided to start with something relatively simple. “I had previously played a color matching game on the web among friends and was surprised to see who aced the test and who struggled.”

Intrigued by that experience, Gorochow and Randazzo came up with Specimen, a color matching mobile game where the player has to match cells in a petri dish with shifting shades of color while a timer ticks down. If that strikes you as being simple, that’s kind of the point. “Our hope was to package something potentially deep inside a game that seems basic,” said Gorochow. Players diving into the game might find they have an easy or hard time with it, often depending on how accurately their eyes perceive color. “It’s fascinating to look at who has a natural aptitude and think about what mean in the context of the game,” Garachow said. “Anecdotally, we’ve found that you can definitely improve.”
Since its release a few weeks ago, Specimen has been a considerable success, earning critical acclaim and establishing player bases in countries all around the world. And while Garachow and company have obviously been pleased with the game’s success, she personally hopes that it could amount more than just a profitable piece of entertainment. “We aimed to make an addictive game first [but also] a potential tool,” she said. “If the project moves forward we really want to look to see if there are any patterns in perception. Is there any indication that the US sees color differently than China or Germany or Brazil? Is there any specific color dominance or weakness when you compare men and women?”

Suffice it to say we’ll be interested to see what they find out. In the mean time, players interested in trying the game themselves can find Specimen in the App Store.

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