IndieCade 2011? It didn’t suck. Sure, independent game developers’ abundant creativity gets smacked down by the innumerable barriers to entry built up by the big guns of the pro-gaming world, but over the weekend, on L.A.’s Westside in Culver City, it was thriving.
Plenty of people came out for the chance to test-drive dozens of games in various stages of development, yet somehow the lines to play weren’t too bad. People were mostly kind about taking turns, voluntarily giving up their coveted keyboards, iPads, and other controllers.
And you name the controller, they had it — from PlayStation Move sticks to Xbox 360 controllers, PS3s, and Kinect interfaces, with an interactive-screen-embedded tabletop set up right in the middle of Culver City Fire Station 1 to boot. (Presumably David Blaine had stopped by pre-event to disappear the firetrucks, which were nowhere in sight.)
OK, plus also a new type of controller you’ve probably never thought of: your tongue. Provided you have someone else’s tongue to work with simultaneously. What? Yep, one game actually used what the developers called a “Kiss Controller,” allowing users to control a bowling game by moving their tongues around while kissing. Think we’re b.s.ing? See it and weep.
Everything on display that we messed with was cool, but here are some of our faves. Didn’t get to check everything out hands-on, so some of these tips-of-the-hat are based on more-distant observation or researching the IndieCade finalists’ websites.
Stereoscopic 3D (glasses required):
The Depths to Which I Sink. (Extra-credit points just for the name.) Don your glasses, move your three-dimensional snake through multiple planes, and smash some windows. Feel superior to your 2D-playing fellow gamers.
No glasses required:
OK, this was an IndieCade 2008 entry, but there it was at this year’s event, so we’re including it here. Ibb and Obb is a two-person cooperative game that totally lured us in with its simplicity and charm. Check out the designer’s blog entry marveling at how this all-ages, G-rated game earned a potential M rating in its current iteration. Hmm. They’ll fix that before it hits PCs and the Playstation 3.
BasketBelle, with its hand-drawn graphics and life-lessons storyline adding depth to the straightforward basketball-play interface, stood out, as did
Loop Raccord, a funky videoclip synchronization game perfect for Hollywood wannabes (especially future video editors).
Solar 2 appealed to the science geek in us; Gamestar Mechanic (thanks, MacArthur Foundation [the “Genius Grant” people]) and Geobook combined computer play with education, another thing we’d like to see more of out in the world.
Finally, but not least, there was one non-virtual, real-world, no-screen-required game — it utilized PlayStation’s Move controllers — that was the biggest crowd pleaser of all:
Johann Sebastian Joust. Check out this video to see it in action. At IndieCade, kids and grown-ups alike lined up to play as big crowds watched, and laughed, and oohed and aahed. We suggest nations adopt it as a modern-day lacrosse, a game used by some of its Native American inventors to settle disputes without having to go to war.
Yeah baby, Johann Sebastian Joust — not war!
A complete list of the 2011 finalists is here, along with links to archival info on past winners.