The IndieCade Report – Day 2
Day 2 of IndieCade – Saturday!
The night before, the Sleep Fairy decided she wanted to take her own sweet time getting to me, so I got to experience this day of the festival through the filter of sleep deprivation (made even better because I massively caffeinated to offset the sleepiness, yaaaaay).
While Friday ended up being full of panels for me, Saturday turned out to be full of games.
Anyway. Coffee!That is how my day started. Lots and lots of coffee. I showed up a little later than I would have liked, and got to see a really interesting game called Renaissance Postman being played in the Big Games area. As the game is mostly a development project by USC students, I don’t have a website to share. I did, however, track down their Pinterest board.
The game itself really excites me, and reminds me a lot of Casino Arcana. As far as I could discern by watching, the players are divided into two main groups: lieges and couriers. The lieges are jockeying for position and to become the new emperor; but may only speak via courier. The couriers have their own objectives, and aren’t obligated to behave honestly regarding the lieges. This is a game I would love to play if I get a chance. I spent some time chatting with one of the designers, who mentioned how difficult assembling 12 players for this game has proven. At which point I promptly gave her my card; the day I can’t get 12 gamers together for a game like this is the day I should just retire to a hermitage somewhere.
After this, I went for lunch, and checked my Twitter and Facebook while there. And had perhaps the most surreal experience of the entire conference weekend.
IndieCade, to me, is about two things: pushing the boundaries for what a game could be; and celebrating the inclusivity which is inherent in video games. It doesn’t matter your race, sex, gender, creed, sexual identity or nationality – games are for everyone. And they always have been. And I love this ethos. I love feeling like everyone is accepted at IndieCade, and the attitude that digital games are a medium which we have only briefly begun to explore.
So I spent a day and a half immersed in that attitude… only to check my Twitter at lunch to learn that yet another developer had been driven from her home by so-called ‘gamers’ (really, can we just agree to start calling them ‘gaters’ now? Short for GamerGate, of course, but also because ‘gators are atavistic predators). Anyway, to have such a jarring experience felt quite surreal. One thing I forgot to mention about Friday was how, when I was walking down the street from one panel to another, I got a catcall. Not from a convention attendee; just a random person in a white truck making kissyface noises at me as he drove by. I wasn’t scared, but it was irritating and reminded me why I am here.
Games are art; art is culture and games can change culture. Not overnight, of course, and it all must be done in the aggregate. But I believe it can be done. Should a game be “about” anything? The fact is, a game is is always going to be “about” something. That’s how culture and the human brain works. And we can be aware of it or choose to pretend it doesn’t exist. And part of why I make the things I do is to contribute, in my own small way, to that conversation. So, thanks kissyface dude, for giving me more fuel for the fire!
Anyway. After lunch! The fire house!
This is where the award nominees are showcasing their game. I saw a bunch of really innovative games, but the one which I really, really want to geek out about is Ice-Bound. I cannot actually express my adoration for this game in words. I may only squee, as is the traditional expression of glee among fangirls. And I am, after just a few minutes of playing, definitely an Ice-bound fangirl.
I’ve been a devoted Android user since I got my first smartphone; I have never bought an Apple product. This game, though, REALLY makes me want an iPad. It pings so many of my ‘do wants’ in a game. I love the story, I love how it blends technology and narrative, I love the aesthetic and I basically love everything about this game.
Essentially, you play as the assistant to a writer, trying to finish his last novel. I could not tell too much about the novel, but the game comes with a printed book. And you can interact with this book, using the iPad, in some really interesting ways! It’s a multi-level experience, and I could feel the ghost of Henry Jenkins lingering over my shoulder. You should Kickstart it! If you’re here, I imagine it’s because you love transmedia, and this is one amazing entry into the transmedia canon.
I also encountered the Girls Make Games nonprofit, and volunteered to be a counselor for their summer programs. I have been so privileged to have the support and encouragement of some wonderful people, and I want to thank them by paying it forward and supporting other young girls who want to make games (and, selfishly, because I hope to play some of their games 20 years from now!).
I attended two more panels, about indie culture and sustainable indie business models (key to both: be realistic), and then took a quick trip home to change before going (and bringing my Hetero Life Mate) to Night Games!
Night Games are pretty awesome. They are specially lit games, played after sunset. Most of them involved some kind of glowing thing, though there were other games which were projected onto a lighted screen. Hetero Life Mate and I sauntered through the offerings, and I got to play Light Flight, a very fun game played with flashlights and cardboard boxes, which I think might solve a problem I’ve been wrestling with in larp and how to represent people being sneaky in interesting ways.
We did eventually go home, after a very long and full day!
Tomorrow, I talk about larp and networking and my opportunity to play Never Alone!