Games as culture, as event, as art with a lowercase ‘a’ – real, active, evolving, sometimes-commercial, sometimes-experimental art – are finally beginning to grab hold. There’s a real scene. It’s a scene that’s interconnected with the ‘visualist’ scene we describe here on CDMotion, somewhere at the nexus of club visuals, gaming, interactive art, and improvising with screens. And if you want to follow that scene, one particularly delicious event is the annual Gamma game competition. Embracing ideas like incorporating sound and 3D glasses, Gamma is a celebration of the craft of the independent game maker, with results that sit between curated art happening and a game challenge with reality show intensity.

Even watching the games in progress, unfinished is good fun. As early as January 13, the Indie Games blog was able to a round-up of upcoming entries. (No pressure.)

Upcoming Gamma IV Entries [IndieGames, superb site]

More resources and background:
Gamma Reminds On Deadline For ‘One Button’ GDC 2010 Showcase

One button may suggest lo-fi analog experiences, but Michael Todd responds with gorgeous, soaring planes in the visual at top.

Cactus, the prolific and enigmatic indie game design legend, has his own trippy creation, seen below. It could easily double as a live visual performance or hypnotic musical synesthetic production.

If you want to see the creatives in action, the place to go is on the TIGForums, an independent game design community. You’ll find, for instance, minimal vector graphics that result in fantastic, glitchy bugs (scroll down). You can read the sometimes zen-like queries of the official GAMMA IV challenge discussion.

Everywhere, there’s imaginative visual design, like the brilliant-looking Lamps.Bottles.Pants by Yameki and aliceffekt, below.


And it’s a great place to pick up tips, whether game design interests you or if you’re simply looking for ways of taking advantage of game engines for live visuals. There’s a huge set of useful links for getting started with the recently-made-free Unreal Development Kit, compiled by the developer of a game about a …time-traveling walnut?

I’ll be at the Game Developer Conference with the Kokoromi folks, whose work led to the wonderful 3D Hypercube seen below. This crew is an endless source of inspiration, and you can count on full CDM coverage of GDC for visualists and sound lovers in March.

And if you are thinking of entering GAMMA, get cracking. The deadline is midnight California time January 31.

  • Johnny

    These tech old glichy computer visuals are so uninspiring.

  • Such nonsense!
    In my day, we had to walk 14 miles in driving snow to build an 8-bit graphic that was tracked by a small go-cart sized mouse, and activated a dog-house size multitrack recorder to play a twelve-second loop of half-inch tape of Shirley Bassey breathing heavily!
    You kids have it too easy!!
    (p.s. I tend to embellish on actual experience, but you get my drift, eh?)

  • What have you been smoking, SkyRon?
    OK, yeah, old tech can be pretty tame compared to what we have today, but, still, look at what John Whitney created with a freakin' World War II gunsight!! Does anybody even know how he did that? I sure don't. . .
    Seriously, you must check this out: <a href="” target=”_blank”>

  • (and the year was . . . 1961, btw)

  • Peter Kirn

    Well, in the defense of these games, they have to also work *as games*. Now, of course, whether they actually do or not — well, that's what the judging phase is for.
    But yes, I'd also be very keen to know how John Whitney did that. 🙂

  • SkyRon you rule!

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  • fingerfunk

    I once saw a documentary on John Whitney and his brother that went into a fair amount of detail as to how their machines worked.  I don't remember what it was called, I saw it in school.
    I also got a chance to see some of their work at the "Visual Music" exhibition at the Hirshhorn museum in D.C., about 5 years ago.  His brother, who also did some amazing work with the same machines, was there for the opening.
    Some info on John Whitney here:
    The young John Whitney worked in the Lockheed Aircraft Factory during the war and while he was working with high-speed missile photography, he was technically adept enough to realize that the targeting elements in such weapons as bomb sites and anti-aircraft guns calculated trajectories and produced finely-controlled linear numerical equivalents, which could potentially be used for plotting graphics or guiding movements in peacetime artistic endeavors. A decade would pass before he was able to buy some of these analog computer mechanisms as "war-surplus" and construct with them his own "cam machine," which pioneered the concept of "motion control."

  • fingerfunk

    or how about what len lye was able to accomplish in the 30s with direct-on-film techniques (one my favorite ways to create abstract moving images):