As Indiecade 2014 came to a close, attendees had a chance to reflect on what they’ve seen and experienced over the course of the four day festival celebrating independent games. Indiecade 2014 saw a Culver City car park and a few surrounding buildings being taken over and used to host a variety of new and innovative games and experiences. There’s also a board games section, big games area, talks and activities. It’s a highly intimate affair compared to many other industry events.
Building communities has emerged as a common theme at various events in recent years. This trend continued at Indiecade and is more important than ever in the midst of GamerGate where many developers have found themselves threatened and likely feeling cut off by a vocal minority of consumers. Strong communities can provide support, help the victimised realise they’re not alone and even shape the gaming landscape for the better.
Indiecade champions diversity in both developers and games. It shows that the creation of indie games, non-games and games with a message and are a positive force that can sit alongside AAA games. Games are changing and the rule books of what constitutes a game are being torn up. New technology and new ideas are pushing the boundaries of what has gone before.
My personal favourite game at the festival was Night in the Woods, which hooked me in with its brilliant writing. It was enlightening to experience a 2D game that didn’t feature a massive amount of gameplay and yet engaged me so strongly through the excellent world, characters and dialogue.
Other highlights included Close Your, a game which uses a webcam to register the player’s blinks and sees a different part of your character’s life flashing before your eyes with each blink. Museum of Simulation Technology smartly plays with the concept of forced perspective. Classroom Aquatic makes great use of the Oculus and it’s unique concept makes it especially memorable, seeing you taking a quiz with a school of dolphins and having to look all around you in order to copy their answers.
As the sun went down on the Saturday night, the neon lights of the Night Games bazaar came to life. There was a variety of experimental games, installations and multiplayer games, which were great fun to experience. The action packed Rockets, Rockets, Rockets seemed to attract a large crowd with it’s neon visuals and pumping soundtrack. I also tried out an EEG headset hooked up to an interesting sculpture that lights up based on your brain waves.
It was hard to miss the numerous young and talented student teams that were present, all developing highly innovative games. This begs the question of whether working on AAA games is still the best way to get started in the games industry. The answer now can only really be determined by whether it’s something you find desirable or not. The benefit of going indie when a student or a graduate is that your living costs and overheads are probably lower than they’re ever going to be again, providing low development costs and a perfect opportunity to try making your own games.
Everyone has a game in them and we’re fortunate to live in a time where more and more people are discovering the tools to allow them to get their games out of their heads and into the world.
Video games have grown up a lot in recent years and this trend is only going to accelerate. A greater number of people are getting involved in game development now that there are easily accessible tools available, meaning that more people from different backgrounds and cultures can create games that draw from their unique stories and experiences. This is helping to spawn more innovative and thought provoking new games.
While GamerGate can make it feel like we’re going backwards, we’re actually in a better and more exciting place than ever. As the next generation starts playing games they will be aware that the medium is for everyone and nobody will grow up thinking that games are a form of escapism that belongs only to them.