There’s no question independent gaming has found its voice. But it’s increasingly finding something else: a scene.
And that doesn’t just mean people huddled quietly around glowing displays in quiet isolation. Artists, advocates, and aficionados gather to celebrate gaming as an art form, as an event. It’s not just some aesthetic or nostalgic experience of gaming, either, as with the explosion of 8-bit: people are gathering for love of mechanics. And as the game mechanic and art venture in new directions, that is an exciting time for digital visual and interactive culture, generally.
One such hub is A MAZE. Centered in Berlin, the festival is a platform for what’s happening all over Europe, and its connections to the rest of the planet – or, as curator Thorsten Wiedemann calls it, “a melting pot for the European indie game scene.” (Thorsten, for his part, hasn’t trained his eyes exclusively on Europe – the German-based A MAZE is also now starting up in Johannesburg, where it promises to serve as a conduit for work around the fast-growing African continent.)
This week, I’m pleased to be involved in a “prelude” to the A MAZE Festival proper; we’re gathering in Berlin’s Mitte neighborhood for two days of presentations, gaming, workshops, learning, connecting, and the prerequisite drinking, eating, and music. You can read more about Thorsten’s work on the blog of the host, Berlin and Korean collective and art network Platoon:
Q&A with Thorsten S. Weidemann [Platoon Report]
Some highlights (I hope to bring you some coverage, CDMo readers, after the event, so fire off any questions or interests):
- First looks at new indie games developed around Berlin
- Talks on rapid prototyping tools, music game creation, and game mechanics
- Planning and discussion of organizing indie game development jams and the upcoming A MAZE fest
- I’ll give two talks – one with an overview of what’s happening with music games beyond the usual karaoke and music arcade games, to the emergence of music- and sound-only interfaces and games as albums, as well as…
- …an extended workshop showing how to get started using libpd (open source visual media environment Pure Data) as an interactive music and sound engine for games
- Heather Kelley is dropping by to show the new Kinect-enabled Super HyperCube and newly-awarded 3D stereographic Gamma, and we’ll…
- …give a short talk on Kinect and gaming. (More on the ART&&CODE conference shortly, which featured loads of Kinect work)
- Paper prototyping and classic board games will serve as instructions in game mechanics – I’m really excited about this, as coming from a music and digital and visual background, I’m badly in need of some study.
Those handful of you who are in Berlin, hope to see you there, and definitely say hi!
Everyone else, stay tuned…