Sheep a Sheep: The New Game Gripping China

By Lars James Hamer, September 16, 2022

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Remember in 2016 when Pokémon Go came out and the world was happy for a month? And, what about Flappy Bird? A game that became so popular in 2014 that its developer, Vietnamese video game designer Dong Nguyen actually removed it from the App Store and Google Play because he felt so guilty about the game's addictive nature and overuse.

Well, are you looking for something else to feel guilty about for playing for several hours when you should be working? Well, look no further than 羊了个羊 (yang le ge yang), a match-the-tiles-style game available on WeChat. 

Before you ask, yes, we are writing this article so we can do “research” by playing the game while we work. Sadly, you probably don’t have this excuse, so whack your brightness down to low if you’re in the office or take an extra toilet break. 

Two weeks ago, 羊了个羊, which roughly translates as “Sheep a Sheep” had a measly 164 hits on Weibo on September 2, 2022. One day later, that number had increased 10-fold and began steadily increasing until over 700,000 netizens were discussing the game on September 12. 

On September 13, the game saw another 10-fold increase, this time shooting to the top of Weibo's trending list with over 700 million reads. 

A day later, the hashtag relating to the incredibly simple but infuriatingly difficult game had over 1.2 billion clicks. 

The game, which was created by the startup company Beijing Jianyou Technology, features a series of tiles with pictures of items someone would use in sheep husbandry. 

IMG_9092.jpg

The level of the day on Friday, September 16, 2022. Screengrab via That's

At the bottom of the screen are seven spaces for you to put the tiles. Place three matching tiles in the spaces to eliminate them from the game (you don’t have to put them down in order). Once you’ve eliminated all tiles, you win.

Sounds easy, right? Wrong. If you fill all your spaces with seven tiles and don’t have three the same, you are unable to make another move and therefore lose. 

The game is so difficult that less than 0.1% of players have been able to complete all levels. Making the game a lot more difficult is the fact that there is a new level every day, meaning it is impossible to remember the layout and chip away at it over a few days. 

Despite being unable to complete the game ourselves, we have compiled some handy tips that may make it easier to progress.

First, be careful when selecting tiles by paying attention to how many spaces you have available.

Second, when choosing tiles look at the ones that will become available afterward so that you know what your next move is. 

Finally, when storing tiles in the spaces below, don’t have any more than three different tiles at the same time, otherwise eliminating new sets becomes too difficult. 

Simple rules for an in theory simple game. 

Have you been able to complete it? Let us know in the comments below. 


[Cover image via That's]

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