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The Young Catholic Behind a Hip New App

Petros Media

Eugene Gan - published on 01/24/14

Flipsquare may be your new go-to video game on your phone.

At CES this year, an app called FlipSquare was attracting crowds to its booth. I decided to interview one of the developers of the app, Franciscan University of Steubenville student Matt Sich. Full disclosure: Matt was a former student of mine, and I’m pleased with what he’s trying to do with his talents! Fuller disclosure: I know his parents, too, and when I was invited over to the Sich residence one day, Matt showed me his FlipSquare app. I was delighted and decided to interview him to grant you a behind-the-scenes look at starting app development, and an insider’s sneak peek into the mind, vision, and faith of a young, successful Catholic app developer.

Tell us about your new app, Matt. What is it all about?

FlipSquare is a new and exciting puzzle game that really makes you think. It teaches you to plan ahead and find patterns. But that’s just the campaign – the multiplayer, ShareSquare, brings together all the skills of the campaign and allows the users to create maps, comment on maps that their friends have made, and even compete for time.

What can players expect to see after the first 25 free levels?

The first 25 levels are just the beginning. The last two levels of square one (the first level pack) introduce the cross square as a teaser for what’s to come. Square one familiarizes the player with the game and gets him ready for the special squares that then put a whole new twist on the game. The levels get much more interesting as you continue playing, and I really encourage people to give them a shot.

What inspired you to make this? How did you get the idea for it?

I always want to learn new skills. If I’m not learning something new, then I feel like I’m taking one step forward and two steps back. My first programming class (C++), taken during my first semester of college, was not all that interesting because I already knew how to program given my experience using PHP and JavaScript for web development. The first week of the class, I made a tic-tac-toe game in C and then made the computer play against me, which quickly became boring. The second week, I made flipsquare. I didn’t call it flipsquare back then – it was just "the puzzle game." It was all text-based, and the map would redraw after every move. I finally made a graphical version of the game for iOS a year later when I was traveling in Europe on a train from Milan to Genoa. I had my Mac handy and was tired of playing card games to pass the time, so I made the game and programmatically put in different maps for it to figure out. It in turn asked me to add functionality, which has led to all the special squares and sharesquare.

What kind of response have you been getting now that it’s been released?

The response has been overwhelming! People really love the game, and I didn’t expect it to get this much attention. There was actually one person at CES who ran up to our booth on the last day of the show and told me that he saw someone wearing our promotional glasses download the game and love it. He had been looking for our booth for over an hour because he wanted to talk to us about it. It’s really humbling to see people enjoy the game so much.

How is this different from other games out there? What makes it unique?

FlipSquare is not mind-numbing. It makes you stop and think ahead instead of mindlessly swiping around the screen like in Candy Crush and games similar to that. It also has a simple design and concentrates on user experience. The goal is to get people to play the game without needless distractions.

What’s the difference between having an app that’s engaging and a video game that’s addicting?

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