Playhouse’s mobile interior design game uses real furniture to create

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When I was a kid, one of my favorite hobbies was remodeling our living room, which for me as a 10-year-old meant moving furniture around to create a different layout every month. Now, a new mobile game lets you do just that without even getting off the couch (or annoying your parents).

Developed by a female-led entertainment company called Robin Games, Theater lets you move, rotate and drop furniture in perfectly rendered 3D spaces. After a soft launch last year, it’s now available for Android and iOS users in the US.

Technically, it’s a game, but it’s much more interesting when you consider its potential as an interactive Pinterest mood board with gems. This is because the furniture you are playing with also exists in the real world.

The game includes 100 home and design brands – from The Inside, Tom Dixon and Ruggable to startups like Sabai – and over 6,000 furniture and decor items.

For game creators, it’s an opportunity to bridge the gap between the virtual world and the real world, making the experience more engaging for users. And for furniture brands, it’s a welcome (and free) opportunity to get more eyes on their products in what is certainly a more engaging experience than scrolling through a website.

Here’s how it works: every day you are faced with a number of interior design challenges such as “create a bohemian chic living room” or “create that glamorous dining area”. You can toggle the filters to select the type of furniture you envision for the space (by color, style, material, or brand) and let your imagination run wild.

The user experience is quite smooth and allows you to design as freely as you want, from layering carpets to building a gallery wall, provided you have enough gems.

This is where it gets a little tricky, because if you don’t have enough gems, you’re often left with pretty basic options like a beige rug or a plain couch. And while I have nothing against beige rugs, it’s hard to resist this beautifully patterned rug that I need 10 more gems for.

I suppose these kinds of tribulations happen in real life as well (do I really want to shell out for a designer rug?), but acquiring enough gems to build your dream interior can get a little frustrating. There are plenty of ways to level up, including completing a design challenge or getting a high rating from other players, but if you really want that cool mat or other item for your fictional space, you can pay up to $1.99 each for them.

I’m not one to spend money on in-app purchases, so for me Playhouse works much better as Pinterest 2.0 than it does as a game. As I was scrolling through an art grid for my ” bohemian living room”, I found myself falling in love with an abstract painting of One Kings Lane. During a different challenge, I was drawn to a rug from the same brand, which made me click the link and visit their actual website for the first time.

I didn’t buy anything, but as Robin Games CEO Jill Wilson points out, that’s not really the point. Aside from the game, she says it’s also a “marketing opportunity that didn’t exist before to get in front of people before the point of purchase.”

“You play with couches for hours and hours,” she says, “then one day you decide you want a couch, and then you click the link and say, ‘Who made this couch again?’ “”

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