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The New York Times’ new ‘Tiles’ game is our current design obsession

Once you start playing “Tiles”, you won’t want to stop

Screenshot of mobile game Image: The New York TImes

Say goodbye to your productivity. This week, the New York Times released a new mobile game called Tiles, and it’s the perfect antidote to the never-ending influx of information that, yes, the Times is also responsible for.

Since launching this week, Tiles has consumed both game lovers and design lovers for its subtly addicting premise and eye-catching design, which centers around matching elements of patterned tiles (inspired by Portuguese and Parisian tiles) in order to make them disappear. You win by clearing the entire board.

Screenshot of mobile game Screenshot: The New York Times

Developed by the Times’ Games Expansions Team, Tiles is a bid to attract more subscribers for its crossword puzzle and other games (the game is free to play, but subscribers gain access to a never-ending “zen mode” and the ability to pick a specific set of tiles to solve).

Tiles is also the team’s first non-word-based game, catering to people who are looking for something a little more meditative to do on their phones after they’ve cycled through the day’s headlines, as well as non-English speakers. According to AdWeek, the team noticed that “users were writing in late at night asking the company for a game that would help them zone out.”

Tiles does exactly that, though it’s not mindless. Fresh sets of patterns, including a color blocked set that looks straight out of Josef Albers’s “The Interaction of Color,” keeps things interesting. And that’s the beauty of it: While Tiles looks like straightforward design-bait on first glance, the patterns themselves are intricately arranged, creating layers of visual (and mental) fodder that can keep you distracted for enough time to forget about anything else that’s going on in the world.