A new video game called Genio applies years of research on strategy gaming in general, the Renaissance, and physical objects, resulting in a virtual card-based, Renaissance city-building game that is now on Kickstarter. Although the game itself is purely digital, the ideas behind it and some of the rewards available through the Kickstarter campaign are physical and related to the world of Italian makers. We spoke with game creater Pietro Polsinelli and looked further into this interesting project.

About the game


Genio is a strategy videogame in which you are a Renaissance lord and you attempt to build the best city. The game itself is quite simple, and could well be a board game with cards and plastic figurines. The concept of board game has been transferred to a digital platform, keeping it simple enough for children to play, but using the advantage of music, animation and more.

Gamers navigate Renaissance Italy building cities based on certain limited choices provided in the form of images that look like playing cards. For example, you are asked to choose a builder (architect) and based on that choice and other factors, you have access to blueprints with which to build walls, cathedrals, belltowers and the like. The structures are for the most part inspired by the drawings of Leonardo da Vinci. While building, you learn interesting information about the Renaissance.

About the physical rewards


Polsinelli has teamed up with Alexander Neuwahl, an expert on Leonardo da Vinci, who has been creating working models of Leonardo’s inventions for a few decades now. This is not an easy task, as Polsinelli explains:

One of the peculiarities of the machine drawings of Renaissance engineers is that they are not technically complete projects as we mean today, but actually drafts. Visual notes that were meant to communicate the general idea of how a machine worked, and to communicate with craftsmen and possible customers. In this Leonardo da Vinci excels: his drawings his sketches have at time the quality of true masterpieces. His drawings are so beautiful that they seem like portraits, making the machines look like sculptures, as monuments to technology. So we asked ourselves: why not actually make sculptures of some of the machine sketches?


3d rendering of a Leonardo model

3d rendering of a Leonardo model

Neuwahl and Polsinelli have successfully made working models of a yo-yo and a spinning top based on the drawings of Leonardo. They’ve experimented also with different materials for the production of these small games. A clever prize on the Genio kickstarter is the 20£ level, which gets backers the game as well as two files with which people can print their own Leonardo sculpture.

Today's 3D printing technology allows for the printing of quite complex surfaces (like these machines) and at very low prices. We first thought of printing the "sculptures" and sending them to project backers, but as 3D print services are easy to find locally, we decided to just send the files and let people print them themselves. The files we'll send will be both in STL and OBJ formats, the standard formats for 3D printers.



Interestingly, we noticed that amongst the prizes there’s not only 3D printing files but a handmade leather book – a kind of contrast in terms. For 200£ you get the game and a hand made leather “book of ideas”. The ideas are the ones represented in the digital “cards” of the game, those objects that you can build in the virtual world. An interesting cross over between real and digital that we really like.


Genio shows how digital, analogical and hand made can be part of the same project. We are going cross-media in a new sense here: on one side we have videogames, on the other hand crafted goods, and in the middle 3D printing, which is a way to reconnect what you can do yourself with what you can find online. In this way we explore the Renaissance in different media and using different skills. I'm pretty sure Leonardo would have loved all this!


The game has an expected delivery date of March 2015, which Polsinelli assures us will be met due to his extensive experience in game creation. As a leader in his field, we’re confident that he’ll pull it off – but first, he needs to raise £50K on Kickstarter! Here’s the link to learn more about the project and back it today.


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