We sit down with the IndieCade event team and get the latest on the recent event in Culver City. It was one of their best years yet, so read on to see what you can look forward to in 2015!
Events For Gamers: Events that have run for several years have quite a history behind them, even in a newer industry like games. What is IndieCade’s history, and where do you expect to see the event in five years?
IndieCade’s Stephanie Barish, CEO and Co-Founder: IndieCade began as many great indie ideas do in a living room, with a group of friends and colleagues interested and passionate about making a difference in the gaming industry. The feeling then – more than eight years ago – was that there needed to be a place to show smaller and alternative independent work and like the film industry the entire landscape would benefit from it.
Our very first showcase was in 2008 where we featured games like Braid, Everyday Shooter and N+, long before they were out on consoles and long before they were hits. We also featured early student work by thatgamecompany, as well as work that went on to be of major importance to the art and education worlds. And each year hence we have continued to highlight and celebrate the diversity and the cutting edge work being done in the industry. Moving forward, we will continue to pioneer and champion creations from indie artists and develops and showcase glimpses into the future of games as we propel it forward.
E4G: California has a robust and growing game industry with most events being in San Francisco, San Diego, or Los Angeles. What makes Culver City of LA a great area to host the IndieCade Festivals?
Stephanie: Both our organization, IndieCade and our first Festival launched in Seattle but we were soon thereafter, recruited by Culver City to move our event to their downtown area. The synergy of culture and technology has been a great fit and many development studios have both formed or relocated to that and surrounding areas. And we couldn’t be happier. The Culver City officials and the entire city have been wonderful hosts. We’ve heard from our constituents and participants from around the world that they enjoy the quaint, intimate, energetic and unique setting of this small walkable downtown area – it’s truly a hidden gem within the greater Los Angeles area.
E4G: How does IndieCade Festival cater to the wider gaming audience outside of professional developers?
Stephanie: IndieCade’s premise and programming has always been based on celebrating and promoting unique and inspiring gaming projects across digital, table, big/physical games, games that are played at night, eSports, and more.
We’ve designed our IndieCade Festivals to help progress conversations about things like celebrating the diversity of game makers and finding ways for more of us to make independent games a sustainable enterprise. By coming together at IndieCade Festival, we not only celebrate some of the most exciting and innovative independent titles, but we also share practices with one another, invite the public, other vertical businesses and industry professionals to see something different, and helping the world understand the impact indie games have on the industry.
The intent is to introduce and bring visibility to the wide array of concepts to other prothe appeal of our games to a broad audience. There is an enormous variety of games, many you cannot play elsewhere. There are game creators from around the world and sessions that range from live performances to technologies for aspiring creators all the way to deep philosophical conversations.
E4G: Prominent exhibitors like Oculus VR and Nvidia attended this year’s event. What other highlighted presentations were shown?
Stephanie: We are honored to have PlayStation as our premiere sponsor for the past six years and Nintendo as a presenting sponsor for the past two years. Both Sony Computer Entertainment America and Nintendo have been amazing partners both to us and the Indie developer community. They show their newest indie titles at IndieCade Festival with many of them being promoted before they are available to the public. In addition, this year we featured Unreal engine/Epic games, a full VR zone with a range of new VR experiments as well as Board and table game manufacturers and publishers like AD Magic with their latest product offerings.
E4G: IndieXchange is a summit at IndieCade for professional visitors. What was learned at this year’s summit that will help developers meet game development challenges of the coming years?
Stephanie: The IndieXchange is our pre-event developer summit. It is specifically designed for developers who have submitted their games to the festival. The IndieXchange is design as an opportunity to connect with other developers, to hone practical skills, attend master classes and clinics, to meet various publishers and to share and play test their work. This is our fourth year and it has been an enormous success! Looks like we will need more space next year!
E4G: Breaking into the game industry can be difficult. What does IndieCade provide for guidance and help in getting new developers started in their prospective careers?
Stephanie: IndieCade offers both the IndieXchange program of a developer has created a game and submitted to the festival. In that program there is the opportunity to network and get practical information.
We also have a gameU program for aspiring developers. This wonderful program is created by highly regarded game creators and academics and is designed to enable this audience to both get started in game design and to consider the many different future trajectories. Speakers include tutorials in popular tools as well as indie legends giving their own stores and advice.
E4G: Game awards and activities were a strong theme. What were some of the highlights in each of the main categories readers can discover on the website?
Stephanie: Each year our jury spends nearly three months reviewing the games that are submitted to each year’s Festival. This is no small task with more than 1,000 games and close to 400 jurors. At the end of the process 36 games are nominated for juried awards. From this pool of games 9 awards are selected by the jury and an additional 3 by audience, developers, and the media in attendance. Unlike other festivals, all games are eligible for all of the awards. As well as – games can be in any medium.
The Culver City Fire Department have been such great partners and supporters of ours too. Once again, this year, we were given use of the Fire Station where we showcased 36 nominated games along with over 150 other games that were both hand-picked by our Jurors and committee members as well as promoted via Sponsors and Exhibitors across festival grounds. The diversity of our award winners and nominees truly highlight the importance and expansiveness of the independent development community and the impact their creativity have on the video game industry as a whole.
Some categories for award winners include:
The Visual Design Award
FRAMED [iOS, PC, Mac] by Loveshack: an award-winning, narrative-based puzzle game where you re-arrange panels of a comic book to change the order of events and change the outcome of the story.
The Audio Design Award FRACT OSC [PC, Mac] by Phosfiend Systems: a musical exploration game where the player explores a vast landscape of an abandoned world that was once built on sound. As you start to make sense of this strange new environment, you work to rebuild its machinery by solving puzzles and bring the world back to life by shaping sound and creating music within the game.
The Game Design Award
GROW: THE ORGANIC BUILDING GAME [Table] by CricKeT Games: a 3D strategy game where players, taking the role of different colored flowers, cooperatively build an abstract tree while competitively battling to claim the most points. By adding Leaves to the tree players gain resources such as Buds and Beetles, using those resources to stake claims on the nutrient rich Leaves while waging war with their Beetles.
The Story/World Design Award ICE-BOUND [iPad and printed book] by Down to the Wire: combines cutting-edge combinatorial narrative with a nested, recursive story inspired by writers like Nabokov and books like “House of Leaves.” The player uses a printed book filled with story fragments and distorted images to shape a novel of polar explorers, and collaborate with a long-dead writer’s digital ghost.
The Technology Award CHOICE CHAMBER [PC, Mac] by Studio Bean: a game that allows an audience of any size to play along with someone through an endless series of dangerous chambers. Players constantly give feedback that changes how the game evolves in real time, from power ups and enemies to obstacles and rule changes.
The Impact Award
USE OF FORCE [Virtual Reality Installation] by Emblematic Group: a virtual reality documentary project that recreates the moments of the real event in which Anastasio Hernandez Rojas was beaten and tasered to death by border patrol. Audiences are immersed in the traumatic events as if they are eye-witnesses along the US-Mexican border, through the use of wireless virtual reality goggles and a high speed, no latency, full body motion tracking system.
E4G: Nightgames was a fun activity that ran during one of the event nights. For those who haven’t been to IndieCade before, can you describe some of the more exotic activities you ran?
Stephanie: NightGames is one of IndieCade’s signature events. Playing games at night under the stars. This past year there were large screens and even projections onto the ground set up over the festival grounds for live multiplayer game play, a stage with live music and DJ sets to various games, a special installations of neuro and biofeedback games, various physical multiplayer games nestled throughout, an game and art creation area as well as games and tournaments featured by our partners PlayStation, Nintendo, and Facebook.
E4G: For those hoping to attend IndieCade Festival 2015, when is the earliest we can expect to see news about next year’s details? What IndieCade Festival 2014 takeaways can they look forward to in 2015?
Stephanie: Ticket sales will open in the Spring of 2015 for IndieCade Festival 2015. This year we sold out so make sure to get your tickets early! Each year we continue to expand the offerings so expect your favorites from this year and more.
E4G: Anything else you would like to share about IndieCade?
Stephanie: IndieCade hosts 3 key events throughout the year – IndieCade East with our partners at Musuem of the Moving Image in NY, IndieCade Showcase @ E3 and our premier event, IndieCade Festival. IndieCade Festival is a special event; not only is it a celebration of the culmination of amazing work from our development community but a gathering of professionals, creatives, artists and fans. It’s a destination designed by and for the community of independent game makers to learn, network, promote and enjoy our wonderful industry. It is an opportunity to experience games that are shaping the future of our industry and to meet and speak with the creators and thought-leaders who are propelling us forward.
E4G: Thanks for chatting with us to talk about IndieCade. We are looking forward to covering next year’s event for the community!
Stephanie: Thank you! We look forward to your being there!