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INDE PEN DENCE AMA ZING it’s free, folks!

ial r c e Sp n fo io edit Indie H BOOT A G ME

The Adventurous Art of Playing

Nr. 0 Das Interview-Special mit Kelly Wallick und Christopher Floyd, den Köpfen hinter Indie MEGABOOTH on page 3

ACHTUNG Read this very carefully: RAINBLASTER is a new-school type-in game by McPIXEL developer Sos on page 8

! h a Ye

Dear reader, it‘s the first time in the 5 years history of the A MAZE. Festival that we are treading into new territory by publishing a magazine at Gamescom in Cologne 2014. We are extremely excited that Kelly Wallick and Christopher Floyd are taking a big step across an ocean by bringing their successful show from the US to Germany, and giving us the opportunity to spread the zeitgeist with our special Indie MEGABOOTH edition. Why release a magazine? We are in an age where independent games transcend their medium and experiment with new media and games as an art form. Where game designers are not just designers, but authors, artists, filmmakers or even activists. They experiment in a boundless playful matter that oversteps the medium of games and effects us as a human being. This magazine is a reflection of our passion of what we do, like and live for. A portal to the adventurous art of play. You will find essays, a new-school typein game, a text game playable throughout the pages of this newspaper, an interview with the maker of Indie MEGABOOTH, illustrations, comics, poems and more… MUCH MORE! Thanks to all the partners and contributors who supported us and made this paper a reality. It was great fun putting everything together. Let‘s do it again! Enjoy reading. Kisses Thorsten S. Wiedemann, Editor in chief. @st0rn0

Rami Ismail: I Always Mention I Made a Game About Fishing With Machine Guns, too on page 18

Play the paper! The textgame „EYES THAT WATCH“ by A MAZE. Audience Award winner Jerry Belich starts here. Find the jump points in the paper! 00 -------------------------------Hey, pssst. Where are we right now? Something feels weird... -----------------------------------› We‘re fine. (goto 3) › Yeah...hmm... (goto 5) ------------------------------------


Indie MEGABOOTH at Gamescom 2014 presents: Cliffhanger Productions

THREAKS

QCFDesign

Boneloaf

Abbey Games

Nyamyam

Refactored Games

Aerena / Shadowrun Online

Beatbuddy: Tale of the Guardians

Desktop Dungeons

Gang Beasts

Renowned Explorers: International Society

Tengami

Unclaimed World

@ N/A

@ BeatbuddyGame

@ QCFdesign

@ boneloaf

@ AbbeyGamesNL

@ nyamyamgames

@ kubluu

Knapnok Games

Capy

Dreadlocks Ltd

Seaven Studio

Two Tribes

Aurelien Regard Games

Wander MMO

Affordable Space Adventures

Below

Dex

Inside My Radio

Rewind

The Next Penelope

Wander

@KnapNokGames

@ CAPYGAMES

@ DreadlocksEN

@ SeavenStudio

@ TwoTribesGames

@ AurelRegard

@ wandergame

Current Circus

Free Lives

Grimm Bros

Lohika

Freejam

Croteam

Rocketcat

Alpha Muse

Broforce!

Dragon Fin Soup

Machineers

Robocraft

The Talos Principle

Wayward Souls

@ muse_dev

@ Free_Lives

@ TheGrimmBros

@ Machineers

@ Robocraftgame

@ Croteam

@ rocketcatgames

League of Geeks

Behold Studios

Amplitude Studios

Beta Dwarf

DoubleDutch Games

Rat King

Schulenberg Software UG

Armello

Chroma Squad

Dungeon of the Endless

Forced 2: The Rush

SpeedRunners

TRI

Where is My Heart?

@ LeagueofGeeks

@ beholdstudios

@ Amplitude

@ forcedthegame

@ dd_games

@ RatKingsLair

Bedtime Digital Games

Chasing Carrots

Enter Skies

Mi-Clos

Ronimo Games

Uniworlds Game Studios

Back to Bed

Cosmonautica

Fearless Fantasy

Out There: Omega Edition

Swords & Soldiers II

TRISTOY

@ BedtimeDG

@ Chasing_Carrots

@ tinybuild

@ Mi_Clos

@ RonimoGames

Get more infos: www.indiemegabooth.com

01 ------------------------------------------------They‘ve always been nice, but we worry they‘ll suddenly decide we are around too much. Taking up space. Maybe we could come up with how much we should buy per hour, so they don‘t ever question if they should let us stay so long. Let‘s run some numbers... ---------------------------------------------------*** THE END ***

Illustration by Raquel Meyers, digital artist (@raquelmeyers)

@ Uniworlds

@ bushghost


INDEPENDENCE AMAZING

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INDIE

Kelly Wallick, founder and host of IMB (@KellyWallick)

Keine PR-Abteilung, keine Laser, nur Spiele-Entwickler und ihre wahnwitzigen Projekte: Das ist die IndieMegabooth, ein riesiger Stand ausschließlich für IndieGames. Seit der Penny Arcade Expo 2012 bringt das IndieMegaboothTeam kleine Studios auf große Messen und zeigt: Nicht nur

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Christopher Floyd, host of IMB (@cfloydtweets)

Microsoft, Sony oder Ubisoft haben spannende Projekte. Dass hinter der IndieMegabooth eine ehemalige Biochemikerin, ein Journalist und eine Armee von begeisterten Freiwilligen steckt, wissen nicht viele. Wir sprechen mit Kelly Wallick und Christopher Floyd, den IndieMegabooth-Leitern.

Illustration: Jess Floyd (@thejessfloyd) Hallo, Kelly! Hi Chris! in euren eigenen Worten: Was ist die IndieMegabooth? Kelly: IndieMegabooth ist ein Showcase für IndieSpiele, das wir ursprünglich für die Penny Arcade Expo (PAX) gegründet haben, eine Spielemesse in den USA. Christopher: Der Hauptgrund für die Megabooth ist: Niemand beachtet kleine Entwicklerstudios auf diesen riesigen Messen und wir wollen dieses Problem lösen. Kelly: Wir haben ein paar Freunde zusammengetrommelt, 16 kleine Studios, haben uns einen riesigen Stand gekauft auf der PAX und dann haben wir alle AAA-Stände übertroffen, weil wir einfach alle unsere Spiele gemeinsam gezeigt haben. Die erste Megabooth lief so gut, dass wir nicht nur noch mal eine machen wollten, das zweite Mal hatten wir plötzlich mehr Entwickler, die mitmachen wollten, als Platz. Also habe ich meinen Job als Biochemikerin gekündigt und Indie Mega Corp gegründet, habe Christopher an Bord gebracht und jetzt ist die IndieMegabooth ein richtiges, echtes Vollzeitprojekt. Wir bauen Communities, wir stellen Spiele vor auf Messen, wir helfen Indie-Entwicklern wenn sie mit großen Konzernen wie Sony, Microsoft, Google und Valve arbeiten. Wenn ich jetzt vor der IndieMegabooth stehe, dann sehe ich einen Platz voll mit diesen ganzen Indie-Spielen, weiß aber nicht genau, wie das ganze Ding hier hingekommen ist. Wie viel Arbeit musstet ihr da reinstecken? Kelly: Was auch immer Leute glauben, wie viel Arbeit hier drinsteckt, es ist drei Mal so viel los hinter den Kulissen. Wir verhandeln mit großen Firmen, um ihnen zu erklären, wie es ist, mit IndieEntwicklern zusammenzuarbeiten. Wir arbeiten mit Sponsoren zusammen, um Equipment und Förderung zu bekommen. Wir besorgen das Geld, die Räumlichkeiten, machen Schilder und Poster und Pressemitteilungen, organisieren Termine und wählen die Teppichfarbe aus. Die Gamescom haben wir über ein Jahr lang vorbereitet. Sechs Monate davon reine Logistik. Und wir versuchen uns immer wieder zu verbessern. Wir werten Feedback aus und versuchen, interessante, unterrepräsentierte Indie-Szenen vorzustellen.

Interview von Dennis Kogel, game journalist (@AlexBronsky)

Christopher: Naja...du bereitest dich halt vor. Du denkst dir: Du gehst hierhin, du dahin, das und das wird passieren. Und dann fängt es an und alles ist so viel chaotischer. Wenn alles offen ist, müssen wir noch weiter Dinge organisieren. Entwickler sagen plötzlich ab, PCs gehen kaputt, Aussteller wollen Mittagessen, die Presse will Termine und drumherum steigt die Gamescom. Kelly: Ich glaube, die Megabooth ist kein Krieg, es ist ein Konzert. Mit Roadies, die alles aufsetzen und am Ende müssen sie wieder alles einräumen und in den Bully laden. Christopher: Ja...aber es ist eher wie ein Konzert mit einer Band mit 150 Mitgliedern, die noch nie in ihrem Leben ein Konzert gespielt haben.

also echt gespannt, wie die Gamescom-Community auf uns reagiert. Christopher: Wir haben aber auch einen starken Fokus auf europäische Entwickler. Im Moment ist vieles sehr stark auf Nordamerika konzentriert. Und ich glaube, es ist echt wichtig zu zeigen: Nein, Spiele entstehen auch in Europa, nicht in einem mystischen Land weit, weit weg. Ich komme aus Irland und als ich aufgewachsen bin, dachte ich, alle Spiele kämen aus Japan und ich könnte niemals dahin. Und jetzt kann jeder Spiele machen, der einen PC und einen Internetanschluss hat. Das ist wichtig. Und wir wollen, dass alle Entwickler, aus Europa weltberühmt werden natürlich. Wie wählt ihr die Spiele aus, die ihr hier vorstellt?

Kelly: Aber toll! Am Ende tun deine Füße weh und du bist müde und alle sind glücklich und wir alle haben etwas einzigartiges erlebt.

Kelly: Chris und ich spielen jedes vorgeschlagene Spiel, das ist ein echt langer Prozess. Mit ungefähr 20 Helfern bewerten wir nicht nur die Qualität der Spiele, sondern auch wie gut die Entwickler eingebunden sind in ihre Community, ob sie einfach gute Leute sind, die die Indie-Szene besser für alle machen wollen. Das ist uns wichtig. Und wir versuchen einen guten Mix aus Genres auszuwähen. Koop-Spiele, Rollenspiele, Experimente, Interactive Fiction, das ganze Spektrum.

Was ist das Besondere für Euch an der Gamescom?

Welche Spiele könnt ihr bei euch auf der Gamescom empfehlen?

Kelly: Mit der Gamescom kommen wir endlich aus den USA raus. Wir wollen hier die Leute erreichen, die wirklich diese Art von Spielen sehen wollen, und den Fans, die noch nie sowas gesehen haben, wollen wir eine Möglichkeit geben, mit Entwicklern zu sprechen, unfertige Spiele zu sehen. Die Interaktion zwischen Entwicklern und Fans ist, was die Megabooth so besonders macht. Die Gamescom ist eine Messe, die traditionell sehr stark von AAA-Spielen lebt, wir sind

Christopher: Das ist wie ein Lieblingskind auszuwählen. Schau dir einfach alles aus, weil es der einzige Ort auf der Gamescom ist, der so ist. Selbst wenn dir Indie egal ist, die Atmosphäre ist einzigartig. Es gibt keine PR-Leute, die dir ihren Marketing-Text runterattern. Es sind nur die Leute, deren Leben vom Erfolg dieser Show abhängt und du kannst sie treffen und von ihnen lernen.

Kelly: (lacht) Können wir das bitte als nächstes machen? Christopher: Was ich sagen will: Es ist völlig irre.

Christopher: Viele Teams, mit denen wir arbeiten, haben noch nie alleine auf einer Konferenz ausgestellt. Auf einer anderen Konferenz hat mir ein Entwickler mal gesagt, dass er sich gar nicht vorstellen kann, was man alles machen müsste, nur um ein Spiel auszustellen. Wir bewahren Entwickler vor so viel Stress und nervigem Zeug, dass viele von ihnen gar nicht merken, dass es ungefähr sechs Monate braucht, um so einen Stand vorzubereiten. Und was passiert während der Show? Christopher: Das ist ein bisschen wie Krieg. Kelly: Oh man! (lacht)

03 -------------------------------------------I don‘t know...it‘s like someone is watching us. Peering orbs, examining us. That strange twinge of awareness. Just take a quick look? -----------------------------------------------› I‘m ok, people look at everything. (goto 19) › Just a quick glance, ok? (goto 20) ------------------------------------------------

0 2 -------------------------------------------------------------------------It is our thoughtful time, and best enjoyed when we let it consume us! Why would someone use their staring eyes just to jolt us out of a beautiful dream? Even a horrible dream, it is still ours. -----------------------------------------------------------------------------› The world already has too many distractions. (goto 9) › We are jolted when we least expect it, so now we always expect it. (goto 8) ------------------------------------------------------------------------------

MEGA BOOTH 3 @indiemegabooth

www.indiemegabooth.com

Na, kommt schon, was sind eure ganz persönlichen Favoriten? Kelly: Das ist so gemein! Jeder von uns mag unterschiedliche Dinge. Ich mag - und das ist jetzt ehrlich langweig - Wirtschafts- und Managementspiele und Chris mag andere Spiele. Es ist also schwer, etwas für alle zu empfehlen. Schon, aber die Leser werden es euch danken. Christopher: Wenn ich ein Spiel aussuchen müsste, dann Croteams „The Talos Principle“. Croteam machen die Serious-Sam-Reihe und dieses Spiel ist das un-Serious-Sam-igste Spiel, das sie machen konnten. Es ist neu und spannend und anders und toll. Oh! Einer meiner Lieblingsentwickler, Jonas Kyratzes, arbeitet dadran mit, nicht? Christopher: Ja! Er und Tom Jubert, der FTL geschrieben hat und The Swapper und die PenumbraGames. Es ist richtig cool. Kelly, was würdest du auswählen? Kelly: Abbey Games ist eines meiner Lieblingsstudios, sie haben die Göttersimulation Reus gemacht und sind hier mit einem neuen Management-Spiel. Christopher: Ich wusste, dass du das sagst! Kelly: Natürlich! Gangbeasts scheint richtig populär zu werden. Auf Below freuen sich echt viele Leute. Chroma Squad ist zum einen eine Wirtschaftssimulation, aber auch ein Taktikspiel über die Power Rangers. Christopher: Es spielt zur Hälfte im Fernsehen und zur Hälfte in der echten Welt. Superseltsam. Wo geht‘s als nächstes hin mit der Megabooth? Kelly: Ich kann nichts offizielles ankündigen, aber einer der Orte, zu denen ich als nächstes fliege, ist die Tokyo Game Show. Ich weiß nicht, ob wir was mit ihnen machen, aber wir sind interessiert an Japan und Asien generell. Vielleicht ein paar mehr kleinere Ausstellungen in Europa. Mein Ziel ist es aber, dass wir in den USA, Europa und Asien präsent sind. Wir wollen alle wichtige Märkte abdecken. Und in den nächsten fünf Jahren? Kelly: Ich möchte es klein halten. Ich mag keine großen Firmen, ich mag keine regulären Arbeitszeiten und ich mag keine Büros. Und es wäre wirklich interessant, ein paar neue Initiativen zu starten. Vielleicht etwas für lokale Communities oder etwas ganz anderes. Mir gefällt die Idee eines Netzes dieser ganzen Initiativen, die alle auf unterschiedliche Art der Indie-Community helfen und diese große Konzernwelt infiltrieren und eines Tages, bevor sie sich versehen, beherrschen wir die Welt. Weltherrschaft, jep. Ich denke, das ist mein Plan und daran arbeite ich jetzt. In ein paar Jahren müsste es soweit sein. Viel Glück!


INDEPENDENCE AMAZING

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ow that there’s so much willingness, technology and skill to create beautiful virtual worlds, it’s disappointing how many videogames cling to obstacle-based designs. As if players have to earn the privilege to explore by passing an irrelevant test. Now is the time to open up this medium, to let go of our affections and addictions, of our loyalty to childhood memories, to open up the beauty of videogames for the world to see.

p l e a fo

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Everybody wants to visit our worlds, to interact with our characters, to play a role in our stories. Don’t let them down! Give them access. Let design mean the building of bridges and the opening of doors, not the hiding of keys and the cowardly sniper shot. Welcome the player with open arms, be an entertaining host. Don’t pull the rug from under them or harass them just because you enjoy that sort of thing. I admit I’m being selfish. I see so many alluring worlds in videogames. I really want to visit them but virtually without fail, it takes less than five min-

r open

ness

Tale of Tales, game designers (@taleoftales)

utes to run into an obstacle that I don’t have the heart to overcome. An enemy, a platform, a puzzle or a simple pit. The game promises hours of exploration but forces me to quit at the very start. These days I spend more time buying and downloading games than playing them. I want to play. Please help! People —like me— want to see your creation, we are interested in what you have invented. Don’t shut us out. Don’t turn your new friends away. Be nice.

0 4 ---------------------------------It’s settled then. For the good of everyone, we’ll wait. All afternoon if we have to, though we probably won’t make much progress in our book. ------------------------------------*** THE END ***

scan for good music

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rüher war sie eine technische Notwendigkeit, später wandelte sie sich zu einer besonderen Klangästhetik. Heute ist Chip- bzw. 8-Bit-Musik ein fester Bestandteil des Popmusikkanons. Nach einem kleinen Durchhänger in den letzten Jahren sind die im Netz blühenden, weitgehend nichtkommerziellen Lo-Fi-Musikstücke nun wieder im Aufwind. Was ist Chipmusik? Rein klanglich lässt sich diese Frage rasch beantworten. Denn die meisten Menschen erkennen die archaischen Töne und Geräusche alter Computer-Soundchips, wenn sie sie hören und können sie als “8-Bit”, “Pixelmusik” oder auch “Bitpop” zuordnen. Stilistisch gibt es dabei keinerlei Vorgaben und Einschränkungen, leben Chiptunes doch hauptsächlich von ihrer Klangfarbe und nicht von der jeweiligen Musikgattung. Rock? Dubstep? Electro? Grindcore? Power-Metal-Pop? Das Genre variiert immer, und in dieser Carte Blanche steckt die Faszination als auch die Bürde von Chipmusik. Zwar gibt es die klassischen 8-Bit-Stücke, die in den 80er und 90er Jahren von spezialisierten Musikern wie Rob Hubbard, Jeroen Tel oder Martin Galway vor allem am Commodore 64 als Soundtrack für Computerspiele geschrieben wurden. Doch auch sie imitierten mit den beschränkten technischen Mitteln meist bestimmte Stile oder Songs. Doch die Klangerzeuger der alten Computer und Konsolen sind simple Synthesizer, und so ist Chipmusik mit Spielformen der elektronischen Musik am meisten vertraut. Weil die Sounds dieser Chips so harsch und schmackhaft klingen, eignen sich laute und schnelle Kompositionen dafür mehr als zurückhaltende. Wer diese expressive und oft hymnenhafte Anmutung gut im Zaum hält oder anderseits talentiert genug ist, der Chipmusik auch mal ihre melancholische Noten zu entlocken, erarbeitet sich bald einen Namen in der kleinen, aber vielseitigen Welt der 8-Bit-Musik.

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Ende der 2000er Jahre hatte Chipmusik einen Höhepunkt erreicht. MainstreamPop-Produzenten wie Calvin Harris oder Timbaland und auch gefeierte Underground-Bands wie Crystal Castles oder Slagsmålsklubben haben die 8-Bit-Ästhetik in ihre Tracks und Songs verwebt. Nicht alle von ihnen wussten über den Ursprung von Chipmusik aus der frühen Computerkultur Bescheid und waren mit ihrer Szene vertraut. So standen auch sich erhärtende Plagiatsvorwürfe im Raum. Doch der Durchbruch in den Pop fand statt und hat sich manifestiert, und auch die eingeschworene, unkommerzielle Gemeinschaft im Netz wurde gestärkt. Neue Netlabels schossen ins Web, die Community-Plattform “8 Bit Collective” war eine nicht versiegende Quelle neuer Stücke, der ständig in Bewegung befindliche Chiptunes-Blog “True Chip Till Death” brachte die aktuellen News und das legendäre Blip Festival lieferte von New York bis Tokio die schweißtreibenden Live-Shows zur Musik. Doch bis auf ein paar Netlabels ist aus dieser Liste bis heute nichts geblieben. “8 Bit Collective” musste wegen Unstimmigkeiten und Urheberrechtsproblemen zwischen Community und dem Website-Gründer schließen, die Betreiber von Blip Festival und “True Chip Till Death” setzten neue Prioritäten. Die Szene erlebte einen Rückschlag und musste sich neu formieren. Einer, der seit Urzeiten - Anfang der 90er Jahre - Teil der Chipmusikgemeinschaft ist, hat allerdings bis heute durchgehalten. Anders Carlsson veröffentlichte bereits als junger Teenager unter dem Namen Goto80 in der Demoszene eigene Tracks und ist weiterhin als Musiker aktiv. Darüber hinaus ist Carlsson ein genauer Beobachter und Chronist der Chipmusikkultur. Sein Blog “Chipflip” kann getrost als das einzige umfassende analytische Begleitmedium der Szene bezeichnet werden. Zusätzlich dazu hat

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Goto80 im Jahr 2010 seine Masterarbeit über “Methods and Motivations in Chipmusic” an der Lund Universität in Schweden vorgelegt. Anders Carlssons Durchhaltevermögen ist außergewöhnlich, denn 8-BitMusik zieht zwar viele junge Musikschaffende im Netz an, doch trotz starker Leidenschaft fühlen sich einige von ihnen nach einer Weile sowohl durch die Klangästhetik als auch die technisch limitierten Mittel zu sehr eingeschränkt. Dann vermischen sich die einschlägigen Sounds wahlweise mit herkömmlichen Instrumenten und Klangerzeugern oder verschwinden gänzlich aus den Arrangements, wie etwa beim kanadischen Musiker und ehemals gefeierten Chip-Artist Daniel McLay (The J. Arthur Keenes Band), der über einige Jahre hinweg von 8-Bit-Ästhetik zu eher weitgehend traditionellen Indie-Pop-Klangfarbe wechselte. Doch Chipmusik ist als Teil von Netzkultur und als ein etablierter Seitenstrang von Popmusik zu durchdringend als dass ein zu langer Stillstand möglich wäre. Nach dem Ende der letzten Hochphase zwischen 2008 und 2012 sind mittlerweile neue Protagonisten auf den Plan getreten. Aktuelle Chiptunes werden schon seit ein paar Jahren auf die Community-Website Chipmusic.org geladen, alte Helden als auch neue Talente bieten ihre EPs und Alben auf Bandcamp feil und Facebook bietet mit einigen offenen Gruppen zum Thema Chipmusik eine gute Möglichkeit, sich Zug um Zug mit der Materie vertraut zu machen. Selbstverständlich haben auch aktuelle Hommagen an das klassische 8-Bit-Videospiel dafür gesorgt, dass Chipmusik wieder neue Hörerinnen und Hörer bekommt. So wurde etwa die Nordirische Musikerin Chipzel vor allem durch ihren Soundtrack zu “Super Hexagon” bekannt, und Chipmusiker Jake Kaufman alias virt hat aufgrund seines famosen Scores zum Spiel “Shovel Knight” viel Aufmerksamkeit bekommen. Kaufman betreibt mit seiner Frau Kris

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seit Ende 2011 auch das “Noise Channel Radio”, einen spezifischen ChipmusikPodcast. Seit April 2014 gibt es darüber hinaus als akustischen Szene-Überblick “This Week In Chiptune” von Dj CUTMAN aus Philadelphia - jener Stadt, in der seit 2008 auch die monatliche ChipmusikVeranstaltung “8static” stattfindet, die mit internationalen Live-Acts programmiert wird. Neue Musik für Podcasts, Mixes und Veranstaltungen wird regelmäßig geliefert. Eingesessene Labels wie Bleepstreet aus Berlin, Da ! Heard It Records aus Paris, Kittenrock aus Großbritannien oder Ubiktune aus Russland veröffentlichen weiterhin frisches Material. Jüngere Chipmusik-Labels wie COUCOU (Italien), 56KBPS (Mexiko), CheapBeats (Japan) oder Data Airlines (Frankreich/Schweden/UK) bereichern das vielseitige Angebot und sind der beste Beweis für die Beständigkeit der Szene. Wer sich in den vielen Audiostreams und MP3-Files nicht mehr zurechtfindet, kann übrigens - zumindest bei Data Airlines - Chipmusik neuerdings auch als limitierte Vinyl- oder Kassetten-Veröffentlichung kaufen. Vorausgesetzt, man ist schnell genug. Und wer nicht nur sich selbst, sondern auch andere Menschen vom Facettenreichtum der 8-Bit-Klänge überzeugen möchte, spielt beim gemeinsamen Zusammensein zwischendurch mal einen der brillanten “Random Chiptune Mixes” vom YouTube-User “Krelez” ab oder legt eine Compilation des Kollektivs “Chiptunes = WIN” ein. Denn auch, wenn es manchmal keine einfache Auseinandersetzung ist: Am Ende gewinnt Bitmusik immer. Robert Glashüttner ist Journalist für Videospielkultur und digitales Leben. Einige seiner Lieblingschipmusiker sind Disasterpeace, 4mat, Rainbowdragoneyes und Shirobon.

05 -------------------------------

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Are we alone? Should we be alone? ----------------------------------› Well, we aren‘t here WITH anyone. (goto 19) -----------------------------------


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Daniël Ernst, digital artist (@camefrombeyond)

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n a Dutch amusement park called “The Efteling” (a park based on designs by illustrator Anton Pieck), there is a place that is easily overlooked. A place where time has no meaning and day and night last forever. You can find the place if you walk past the merry go round and through the mirrored hall. It will be dark in there and the room

from the sky. The thought of making the blocks stack up in front of the window would be a logical one. The problem is that the player would take off the Oculus once the room is blocked in by the blocks, because they would feel like the diorama is done. The equivalent of the flagpole in the end of Super Mario. By creating an infinite loop of blocks falling the players can stay in the room for as long as they want. And they will feel the room would still be there once they leave the room. Some of my fellow dimensionauts mentioned they would remember the room like they would remember a real place.

Why nothing is not the answer to: “what do I do?”

is filled with empty seats and tables. And in the middle there is the most beautiful diorama of a fantastical world filled with miniature wonders and macabre European fairytales. I could spend hours gazing in to the diorama. It feels like time stops. In a diorama time does not pass. When I will visit the diorama in the Efteling again this year, I know the little trains are still there, I know that the lady with the geese are still waiting on the train and I know the haunted house is still on fire. If a diorama would have an end, the world would not feel like it will be there again and again and again. It’s the feeling you have when you listen to a Chris Isaac song, look at a Hopper painting or when you sit in a hotel lobby. Take Blocked In for example, my first diorama I proudly released last year. Calling Blocked In a diorama was a well thought out choice. I wanted to create a type of experience that would convey the sense of wonder the diorama in the Efteling did so perfectly well and in the end the design choices supported the name as well. In Blocked In you will see large tetris blocks falling

The thing most people asked me when I showed them Blocked In on the Oculus was: “ What do I have to do?”. I usually answer this question with a simple: “Just look around and enjoy the view”. Perhaps some people would answer the question with an even simpler: “nothing”. Answering this question with a nothing is almost as wrong as using the term demo for these kind of experiences. The term demo downgrades what a diorama can be in interactive media. As does the answer nothing, since you’ll do a lot of things in a virtual space. In traditional video games you have a distance between you and the screen. And therefore between you and the character you are controlling. When you put the player inside of the digital world, you are the character and you are in the world. This sounds blatantly obvious, but it isn’t. It can only be fully comprehended once you put on the Oculus and experience it for yourself.

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Everyone has a place they like to visit and just be there. For me it’s the diorama in the amusement park. Other people might like to visit a bench in the park, a weird incomprehensible piece of public art, or a pond where there are ducks doing silly duck things. Now let’s say you bring a friend along, he would not ask you “what do I have to do?” If your friend would ask this, you would not answer him with a nothing. You would probably ask him: “what’s wrong with you? You should play less video games...” This is also why I think the enjoyment of a diorama is not something that is only triggered by the novelty of people experiencing VR for the first time. You actually feel like you are in the space. Of course people who have not experienced VR before will treat a diorama as a video game. Blocked In was the first diorama for the Oculus and thus people will try and make sense of it with their other experiences. Since digital entertainment is usually a game and therefore their reference for enjoying new forms of interactive media is how they play games. The following reasoning might occur: It’s digital, it’s entertainment, you don’t have a controller, you don’t have to save a princess, shouldn’t there be more interaction? No, there shouldn’t and it’s not a game. But it’s also not not a game. It will fit in perfectly at a games festival. Sometimes I call the dioramas interactive illustrations, but in the end a diorama is a diorama. Being in a space is a full experience in itself, it’s not less then a traditional video game, it’s different. A new breed of experience or game if you will. And it’s a type of breed I’m most comfortable with. It’s fun to see other devs have embraced this style of interactive design as well, and created their own amazing dioramas. The Boiler Room by Nick Pittom for example or Technolust.

Pippin Barr, game designer (@pippinbarr)

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lexandra Tetranov has often helped bridge an important art historical gap between the desiccated, vanishing forms of Alberto Giacometti and the unsparing, corporeal feminism of Louise Bourgeois and Kiki Smith. Indeed, walking among her sculptures, one became immersed in an environment that only slowly revealed itself through each piece‘s singularity and multifaceted formal dynamism.

„Memory II“, easily her most striking work in this collection, elicits a slow, observational mode of looking that seems almost cinematic in its insistence that one focus and hold one‘s gaze. It‘s art that hinges on a protraction of perception. „People come and stop, and look, and ask ‚what and how and why?‘“ said one curator as she looked at Tetranov‘s‘s menacing stainless steel piece. Restrained and unassuming, each

Updating

In „Updating Modernity,“ four artists from around the world (two obvious choices for a such a show, two not) traced the fault lines between, as the press release put it, „users and operating systems.“

of the sculptures in „Updating Modernity“ exemplify the diligence and conviction with which Tetranov has pursued her aesthetic project. Cicero Sassoon, emerging as he did in the 1990s, found himself confronting his art‘s relation to a burgeoning digitalimage culture in a way that corresponded to the response of Pop artists of the 1950s to the early mass media of the postwar era. His spare, linear abstractions are „formed“ rather than „painted“ and this depersonalization of painterly gesture accounts for the air of disillusionment Sassoon‘s art exudes. There is no better example of this than the pure simplicity of „A Complaint“, an image that is intentionally low resolution: here suggesting a line drawn in the sand, there a prisoner counting out the moments of his imprisonment in the bouncing of a ball, among other scenes. As ever, Sassoon is trafficking in Borgesian problematics: the abstraction on which representation hinges; the lapses and deformations of meaning that result.

I think one of the worst things to do as a VR dev is to think a VR app needs to be a traditional type of game to be perceived as something worth while. Another bad thing would be to give a game a post VR treatment (it’s what made 3D in cinema’s gimmicky and irritating for the viewer). The thing is that a good experience should be derived from the aspects of what makes VR so great, and that’s presence. If something breaks the presence you should reconsider cutting it. Boldy put, if the experience works without VR it does not need it ( although it makes everything 100x cooler, but I’m trying to make a point here so bare with me!) A diorama for example is something that would only work in VR because you have to be in the space to perceive the world from your own point of view, with scale and depth and the presence it will bring. It makes you feel like you are visiting a real place and perhaps even have memories of visiting it. The interaction is limited to enhance the presence, without the pressure of the experience ending. Solid experiences need to be created from the aspects of what makes VR so incredibly wonderful and that means making choices that will most likely challenge conventional design. Doing this will distinguish itself from a tradional game and make it stand on its own. It’s those kind of experiences that will push the medium of VR farther and give it its own identity. And I can’t wait to see what other VR type of experiences people will come up with.

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racterization of what William Edge and Susan Needle are doing in their latest video works. Their films are so invested in the syntax of linear narrative ‚Äî in which one event logically proceeds from another ‚Äî that their art at first resembles a parody of early Conceptual art‘s obsession with the ratiocinative ordering of experience. Through their serial framing, however, time emerges as something both linear and looped In „Blessings“ the two flirt with death, nearing and then moving away from the central star. In the gallery setting the silence of space is overwhelmingly loud. The film might be satirizing the plodding quality of linear process, but it is also ineffably romantic, suggesting the unknown pasts and futures of the altered objects by intruding, however insignificantly, on their „fates.“ Ultimately, all the works in „Updating Modernity“ seek to make a move from analog to digital, from noise to silence, from frailty to perfection. In this transition, the voice of the conflicted but coherent self begins to be heard from within the cacophony of the crowd.

„Dreaming in public“ is how the sci-fi writer William Gibson has described what he does, but it‘s also a fitting cha-

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Where light just bent around us. We read they were working on stuff like that, so people could be invisible. They probably want to use it for spying and all that... --------------------------------------------------------------› ...but we would use it in the middle of everything! (goto 29) ---------------------------------------------------------------


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us r o f time s ’ ing t l I l ca p o st ” to “indie games

We feel very alone around all these eyes. And now we’re just reading the same sentence over and over again. ------------------------------------*** THE END ***

n Warre creen Jamin Kills f o reen) r e illsc k found @ inWar (@Jam

On neither axis—aesthetic or political—do indie games, as currently widely conceived, share even a semblance of consistency. 

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n 2007, when I was a reporter at the Wall Street Journal, I (and most likely others) noticed something odd that was happening in the world of games. A crop of very small teams were starting to get much wider distribution and, ultimately, sales through digital platforms, albeit through an unlikely source: videogame consoles. The insurmountable obstacles surrounding commercial releases were suddenly being lowered and gamemakers like Jonathan Blow and the Behemoth started making serious bank, but in the guise of very personal and thinly assembled titles. These were magically called “indie games.” My argument in the Journal was simply that the means of production that were enabling titles like Braid to exist and thrive were the same that fueled the New Hollywood movement that birthed Spielberg, Coppola, Lumet, Kubrick, and others. Microsoft and Sony were taking modest risks and dedicating marketing real estate to untested game makers who would then introduce new ideas to an otherwise samey and fatigued game-playing audience. “This [indie] gaming culture is launching its own stars who are both challenging the industry’s traditions and working with larger publishers,” I wrote back in 2008. After the article was published, I received an email from two young (and recently married!) filmmakers named James Swirsky and Lisanne Pajot. We met at an early Kickstarter get-together and they followed up, stating that my article was a signpost for them as documentary filmmakers that a new “scene” that was emerging. A couple months later, they filmed me as a talking head for a small little title called Indie Game: The Movie. Since then, there’s no doubt that “indie games” are a desirable asset in the world of game making. Pajot and Swirsky’s movie was a smash hit, titles like the Apple design award winner Badland touted “100% independent” in their credits, submissions for the Independent Games Festival and Indiecade ballooned, and multi-national corporations like Microsoft and Sony now vie for the strange title of BFF to the this game community (loosely defined), even allowing them onstage for their presentations at E3. On the one hand, there is clearly something heady in the air in games these days. “Indie” is whispered as if an enchantment over crowd-funded projects, big and small, in hopes of another Double Fine Adventure moment. Prima facie, this is all clearly wonderful, and the influx of game makers from big studios to the stark blue ocean of self-sustainability will leave a lasting impact on the world of games. Whether this is a bubble, I cannot say, but there is certainly an excitement around the act of making new games. Given the new details that the average game designer is making less than $50,000, a sizeable segment of the profession is finally making good on both the “starving” and “artist” part of creativity’s past, present, and future.

Indie means raw and unpolished: So I guess No Man’s Sky is out, eh? I mean, look at the damn thing.

“It ain’t what they call you, it’s what you answer to.”

Indie is a new phenomenon: Spacewar! was a completely DIY effort in the 60s. And cue NYU’s Bennett Foddy who astutely pointed out: Lemmings, a game made in 1991 by a self-funded team of 4, sold 15m copies — most at full price. Please stop saying indie games started in 2008 — Bennett (@bfod) May 23, 2014 Ok I think we’re done here.

- W.C. Fields

The term has a useful history elsewhere, just not for games.  If Rolling Stone was the handmaiden of rock n’ roll, Pitchfork has defined independent music, and indie rock specifically, better than anyone else. And if you asked Mark Richardson, editor-in-chief at Pitchfork, what the quintessential indie band is, he’d tell you Built to Spill. I know this because I asked him.

On the other hand, this Cambrian explosion has spread the term woefully thin and it’s this current reality I’m interested in interrogating. I’m in as good a position as anyone to say this. And if you’ve been following Kill Screen you’ll note that this isn’t a “new” problem for us. So let’s just say it. The term “indie game” no longer makes any sense. Let me explain why.

It’s impossible to define indie games.  In an earlier Game/Show, I explored this idea thoroughly. The biggest problem is that there’s no easy way to define what indie even means in a games context. To every potential categorization, there exists dozens of meaningful counters. When the winner of grand prize at the Independent Games Festival is unclear what indie means, it might be time to jump ship. Yet the term persists according to this faulty logic. Indie means small teams: Telltale has over 200 people. Valve has over 300. Both are “independently-owned.” Indie means personal: This perhaps comes the closest, but one asks, personal to whom? The player? The designer? The critic? And how personal? Autobiographical or just really, really deep, man? Indie means non-commercial: Microsoft sells enterprise software to Fortune 500 companies and Sony is so sprawling that its most successful unit is selling insurance. Yet both are vying to be the voice of indies. There’s nothing wrong with dealing with the big kids, but if slice your games up by corporate affiliation as some do, then signing with them and having your game featured on the front page is the exact opposite of anti-commerce.

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Formed in 1992, the Boise-based Built to Spill scored a hit two years later with There’s Nothing Wrong With Love and were the darlings of the college alternative circuit. But then things got tricky. Faced with the demands of touring and personal life, lead singer Doug Martsch pushed the band to sign with Warner Brothers, one of the music industry’s “Big Four” and the diametric opposite to their former home Seattle’s Up Records. Martsch and Co. hired REM’s lawyer, who had ushered the Athens four-piece during a similar move to Warner, and carved out creative control for the band. Martsch later admitted that there was something else motivating the decision: health insurance for him and his loved ones. “It was a hard decision to go with them—but it probably would have been harder if I wouldn’t have had a family,” he said in 1997. “If that was the case, and I was going to tour a lot and just work, then being on an independent label would have been fine.” It’s hard to ignore the personal motivations for Martsch to make that transition and you’d have to be callous to fault him, but regardless, as a music critic, Richardson says, after signing to Warner, “No one would have said Built to Spill stopped being an indie rock band.” It’s an admittedly “slippery distinction,” but Richardson is pulling from a longer history of the medium that defines indie along both aesthetic and political dimensions. By aesthetic, it’s a function of lineage. It’s about your sound but only in relation to references are. Richardson argues Mumford & Sons wouldn’t qualify as indie although they share a similar palette as the Decemberists. “If the band they’re channeling is Boston, they’re not going to be as indie. But if it’s Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers, that’s a different story.” This is, of course, splitting hairs, which is sort of the point. Richardson is outlining a particular point of view codified by his editorial institution. It’s what makes Pitchfork, well, Pitchfork.

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By political, it’s more straightforward. The Big Four controlled distribution and college radio sprung up in the 80s to highlight acts that were off-theradar. “The kind of music you’d call indie only existed on independent labels,” Richardson says. With few exceptions such as the Flaming Lips, the sound dictated the scale. That reality is echoed in other mediums like film and theater, where larger entrenched powers actively prevent the distribution of new and challenging work. On neither axis—aesthetic or political—do indie games, as currently widely conceived, share even a semblance of consistency. They do not look the same; they do not act the same; and their designers don’t even share the same points of view. Per Richardson’s assessment, the lineage is all over the place ranging from huge traditional shooters to obscure, chippy leftovers. Be honest. Fez is nothing like The Unfinished Swan is nothing like Among the Sleep is nothing like Star Citizen, yet all would fall under the moniker “indie.” At the very least, indie rock had guitars. Indie games, conversely, have nothing of the kind. Politically, from the very beginning, videogames have had a strong commercial heritage, from their conception on equipment funded by DARPA through the console wars of the 90s to this year’s E3 that featured indie games on the showfloor. Moreover, games made by small teams were commercially successful almost immediately. They recamped during the videogame crash of 1983, but per Foddy’s point earlier about Lemmings, the suggestion that small teams making big things is new is preposterous. (If you want to know what a political framing of indie games could look like, see Paolo Pedercini’s talk from 2012. He’s clearly the only person who’s thought this through.) By contrast, independent film, developed outside the studio system, didn’t apex until Steven Soderbergh’s Sex, Lies and Videotape in 1989. The New Hollywood movement was distinctly different from indie because it worked through traditional channels. Games have always had a blend of publisher-financed and selfdistributed titles, lest we forget that shareware bought Doom creators John Romero and John Carmack matching red and yellow Ferraris. Atari was born of Nolan Bushnell’s boundless ambition. Like it or not, indie in games cannot be divorced from indie elsewhere. In fact, the homage was almost required in an attempt to frame something that was apparently new (but really wasn’t). And chronically, game designers struggle to take creative or philosophical cues from anything other than other games. Indie has baggage; it has a weight, that must be reckoned, but without an accurate assessment of how other mediums have carved out space for the term, indie as a term, floats adrift, unmoored, and meaningless on the ocean of games.

Indie is best left to marketing, not criticism.  This year at the videogame convention E3, we heard something curious: “Well, if you’re gonna go indie, you gotta go full indie.”


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hen he and his (now sadly dead) business partner Mark set up in 1994, it was in the context of frustrating comics retail experiences, from the hostile and insular till-cliques that still inhabit many comic shops today, to seeing stunning and diverse work that couldn‘t make itself heard over tales of spandex-clad dudes. They saw that the comics industry, from publishing to retail, was only tapping into a tiny bit of their mediums potential, and set about doing what they could to fix that.

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They made their shop look like a regular bookshop inside, and to this day they still put all of the superhero comics at the back, making it very clear those are not the focus; that it isn‘t just another comic shop. The front two thirds are filled with interesting contemporary fiction, art books, and anything else they think is worthwhile and diverse. Mark used to build amazing, sculptural window displays that didn‘t specifically advertise comics or incorporate any of their clichés, forming an incredible aesthetic hook to draw curious people inside. Whoever is on the shopfloor welcomes people in to browse, and makes it feel like a safe place to do so regardless of age, gender, sexuality, or interests. They‘re also excellent at listening to customers and making personal recommendations. These actions don‘t map directly onto games, but games face a very similar problem: Decades in which the industry doubled down on macho teenage power fantasies created a vocal and territorial legacy audience, along with entrenched stereotypes. Everything Page 45 did when starting up was designed to solve this kind of problem. They catered to existing comics fans by default, but pushed

Real

away all of the exclusive and intimidating aspects that can manifest, while putting most of their effort into finding and understanding new audiences. Underlying that was their perspective on comics; knowing the mechanics of how the medium is built, knowing the breadth of content people are putting into that medium, and having the ability to mentally separate the two in a way most people don‘t. They don‘t just sell comics, they understand them deeply at any scale. They have relationships with everyone from the big publishers and distributors, to individuals dabbling in making

Fortsetzung von S. 6 Nevermind this idea that indie is something palpably quantifiable (70% indie vs. the full stack), whose temperature can be taken like Thanksgiving turkey and that the man uttering this ridiculous statement was wearing a t-shirt for The Order. No, the problem is simple. Every week, we get emails from game designers pitching the same angle. Sam worked at a big development studio. He gets fed up with “the mainstream.” Sam quits his well-paying job. He’s going “indie.” The pitch is that indie is a magical shorthand for designers for “good,” which couldn’t be further from the truth. As a small business owner who made a similar transition from the Wall Street Journal, the narrative resonates with me, of course. But my sympathy ends there if only because Sam and I are no different from anyone else who wants to start something new. The incongruity is that “going indie” is regarded as some strange act of bravery; outside of games, it’s simply known as “making shit.”   And these press releases position indie as some discernible boundary between being and not being. And more often than not, it is something in direct juxtaposition to “the industry.” That’s the rationale fueling the no less than three different counter-E3 events we attended this year. But why whisper when everyone else is screaming? Especially when defining oneself simply by not being something else is imprecise, as designer Michael Brough was quick to note: “Really, it’s kind of paradoxical to talk about a scene defined by independence—how someone’s doing doesn’t have much direct bearing on how anyone else is.” Paradoxical, indeed. And yet, admittedly, hawking indie as reflex has been useful for cutting through the noise. Or at least it was. On Steam, for example, there is an indie tab. It has indie games. That’s great. I check it out all the time. And then Steam released more games in the first five months of this year than in the entirety of 2013. Suddenly, that small curated space has become a catch-all. But the cost is higher than just mindshare. If we continue to conflate all games made under the dubious conditions that define indie and place them in a single category, then we deny them the ability to be distinct works. Labeling cheapens the discipline by suggesting that somehow the motivations that separate Super

Smash Brothers from BariBariBall, Metal Gear Solid from Superhot, Candy Crush Saga and Twodots, are somehow insurmountable. It gives those who group indie games as melodramatic platforms a convenient and approximate filtering system for ignoring anything in this massive expanse of games. Games, of course, are not alone. Filmmakers struggle with the same problems of voice and the sole moniker “indie” carries a similar burden. “I worry that people click on the indie tab in iTunes and the audience actually needs help though,” Michael Raisler, executive producer for Beasts of the Southern Wild and creative director of Cinereach, told me. “They have a hard time finding stuff. I worry that audiences can’t find the content they fall in love with.” “I tend to avoid ‘indie,’” Raisler says. “We make movies and we finance them. It’s independent, sure, but I don’t know what benefit we get.” If an Oscarnominated producer worries that his films are lost to the noise and finds little use for the term, then how useful can “indie” possible be for games hoping to stand out on the infinite shores of digital distribution? But the point is why do we, as critics and writers, actually care? If gamemakers find using indie helps them move more units, awesome. But we need not be bound by the same language.

New times demand new language  In 1995, two young Danish directors named Lars Von Trier and Thomas Vinterberg took the stage at Le cinéma vers son deuxième siècle, a celebration of film’s first century in Paris, and announced an audacious movement: Dogme 95. Taking inspiration from a François Truffaut’ 1954 essay in Cahiers du cinéma, Von Trier and Vinterberg issued a manifesto via tiny red pamphlets that were distributed to the audience. “In a business of extremely high budgets, we figured we should balance the dynamic as much as possible,” they later said. Dogme 95 was an experiment and attempt to simplify filmmaking and reduce it to it finest form. It also had a lot of rules. Dogme films were always in color. No special lighting. Handheld cameras. No

their own zines and short run books. That‘s how they built their audience over the past twenty years, and they call it the real mainstream. Superheroes are still a thing that vast swathes of the comics industry are built around. They‘re the thing people still tend to associate with comics first, and in all of the default spaces for comics, they‘re where the money still goes. Superheroes are the comics thing that also gets toys, assorted collector tat, and blockbuster movie deals. Taken as part of a medium though, they are just a niche. There is nothing fundamental in comics that lends itself to superheroes, just as there is nothing fundamental in games that makes them inherently about gruff white guys carrying guns. It‘s an unfortunate quirk of marketing and culture that‘s led to this conceptual dominance, and cultural change is a glacial process. There are independent comic shops like Page 45 all over the world, but it feels like there‘s a lot more work to do. It wasn‘t a revolution, and it hasn‘t overturned the big publishers, but it did strike out in a new direction then find an appreciative audience. I think the same audience is out there for games, but we have to go out and find it. To do that, in turn, requires a broadening of games and our understanding of what they are, what they do, why people play. It‘s a separation of medium and content that existing studios, publishers, and retailers seem poorly equipped to carry out. Sony may have made gaming cool for twen-

Everyone seems to always want so much from us. So many questions, even about what it is we want. But we don’t want much, and we don’t want what we want to be so important to all of them! We want the secret things that we can only give ourselves. Peace from their eyes, and words, and motions. We will close our eyes, and look back towards the stare in our mind until the burning gaze ceases. Then we will be alone again. ------------------------------------*** THE END ***

voices of many creators reaching more specific fanbases. The growing magnitude of independent game development has shown us the first glimmers of this. New niches are emerging, and that doesn‘t just happen, it‘s driven by people exploring and pushing for it. In turn, indie as we know it is still not enough, because it has been thoroughly rolled into existing narratives and frameworks of the commercial games industry. Far too often I hear the word games with „industry“ automatically tacked on, when in fact games are so much more. Earlier in 2014, I was at ALT.CTRL.GDC, a show of alternate and prototype games hardware. Entries were submitted from all over the world, and few of the projects there were commercial in any sense. Most of them could be described as

Mainstream ty-somethings in the 90s, and Nintendo may have returned games to being a family thing in the 00s, but these were just very broad strokes in terms of finding new players. We just witnessed a console transition in which the platform holders, Microsoft especially, seemed awkwardly hung between their existing audiences and new ones. Finding the real mainstream is not about tweaking those few big voices to please a greater number of people, but about the unique

props. No murders. No credit for the director. Needless to say, Dogme is something more talked about than actually executed. And in other disciplines, you find similar attempts to codify and outline something. Literature had the New Puritans; reporting had New Journalism; music is awash in micro-genres like witch-house and cloud-rap; UI is split between flat and skeumorphic, and modern art has microbially divided and subdivided too many times to list. But none of these shifts were just called “indie X.” It would be insufficient. The impulse, then, for gamemakers to want to participate in something bigger than themselves is totally reasonable. And that time came and now it has gone.

installation pieces. The group of people presenting work were intimidatingly good at making objects, redefining existing forms of play and re-examining the affordances of control, yet I met people who asked the creators this one stupid question: „What‘s your business model?“ The idea of video games as an industry is so entrenched that people can easily miss the point of something they‘re looking at. A medium is not defined solely by the industry that grows around it. The potential to create things doesn‘t require the validation of a market, and to think only in that frame is a form of intellectual poverty. To see games solely as commercial product vastly inhibits our abilities to understand and communicate about them. It also doesn‘t reflect the increasing number of creators I meet who don‘t care about jobs in the games industry, working on blockbuster projects, or becoming rich off their own games. The real mainstream isn‘t a legacy audience that‘s been led to new things, it‘s woven from new creators and new players. I meet people who‘ve never heard of Steam, who (for instance) see artwork by Keita Takahashi and slightly excitedly ask „Do many video games look like that now?“ Play is not an alien thing to these people, but the video games industry sure is.

Earlier this year, we did a series called “The Future of Genre” as a first attempt at creating and cataloguing some of the myriad directions that contemporary games find themselves. Post-WASD. New Soulsian. Instant Death. As Clayton explained in the introduction, the problem with a binary approach (indie/not indie) is that “it focuses on games as objects of industry, and not of art.” In the next decade, things are going to get really messy. New tools like Unity and new devices like the Oculus Rift are going to flood the game world with interlopers looking to dabble in interactivity. Local game scenes are likely to calcify. The gap between game scenes in New York and LA is already widening as the divide between those cities in architecture, music, design, photography, film, and just about everything else had previously. And older mediums like theatre, architecture, and animation are finally elbowing their way through the throng en route to ludic pastures. But for each new entrant, there’s a little less room for some of the old heavies. The bus is getting crowded and it’s time to let some passengers off. Good-bye indie. It’s been a good ride.

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But we already are. Like a burning, a magnifying glass focusing a spot of sunlight right on us. Do they WANT us to look? -------------------------------------------------------› Then let‘s not give them the satisfaction. (goto 23) › We‘ll just look then, and it‘ll be done!. (goto 20) --------------------------------------------------------

David Hayward, founder of Feral Vector (@nachimir)

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My friend Stephen runs a comic shop named Page 45, and about fourteen years ago he told me something about it that totally shifted my perspective on both comics and video games: Page 45s audience has a roughly fiftyfifty gender split, and an age range from young children all the way through to the elderly.

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Sos, game designer (@Sosowski)

In times when games weigh dozens of gigabytes and still can be transferred via magic laser tubes to your computer within minutes, nobody wants to type games in anymore. Also, computers do not have an in-grown obscure dedicated programming language that one is required to master to operate the machine, everything is user friendly and typing in more than few words into the computer is not necessary to achieve anything! Alas, someone must have typed whatever there is to type, so why not look that up and paste! But there is magic to typing in programs. A kind of magic that enables you to think like the creator whilst typing it in, with a pinch of uncertainty as to the accuracy and the end result of it. And there is a programming language that has become common among all computing machines. It’s JavaScript! It is not the shiniest nor the greatest of programming languages, but it will work on any computer, unless this texts travels back in time! It might not also be the best programming language for learners, but this is not programming 101, this is a type-in game, and probably one of the last of them, so if you didn’t have the chance to type stuff in back in the days, now’s the right time!

There it is! The ball of a player displayed on screen can be controlled by left and right arrow and will bounce indefinitely for fun of it! You can also control it by tilting your computer (if it has a gyroscope) or phone. Let’s move on to smashing enemies now by smashing in enemy code!

First, open your favourite text editor, create a blank file and save it as HTML. Type this in, save and make sure it loads in a browser! The game should show its colours now, even though it’s all gray. There are many graphical improvements and tweaks that could be applied at this point further beautifying the visuals, like lightning strikes, wakes, birds in the background, but let’s add rain to make the game more gray than it already is.

If you can see this line you typed after opening the file in your browser, you messed something up (probably your editor added an extra ‘.txt’ after ‘.html’). Let’s move to the fun part! Keep in mind, that this is not programming exercise or even an example of a good code. This code is designed to be as easy to type in as JavaScript can get, which is somewhere between ‘not-so-much’ and ‘nope’.

At last, it’s a game! Now, you can destroy the enemies by bouncing off them and the goal is to achieve the highest combo possible by not falling down as long as possible! Let’s add some text to know how far we’re getting!

This concludes the main part of the typing. But there is an extra part too! The brand new technology of WebAudio enables real time synthesis of sounds and music! However, modern browsers are still adapting to the standard as of time of the writing, making Firefox and Chrome the only two that can play the music. Don’t skip the fun if you happen to have one of these lying around!

That was quick! Now you can see your combo each time you destroy an enemy! But the graphics are somewhat bleak and Atarish. It can all be fixed using game maker’s secret weapon – particles! Let’s get this thing smoking!

If you save the file now and load it in a browser, you will be greatly disappointed, as there is nothing going on in the game as of yet. This aforetyped part is the extensible framework that is to be extended immediately. Typing in the entire code is optional, and you can stop after a chunk of code of your choice, even now! But you might want to have a player on screen first!

That wasn’t much work either, and the difference makes it totally worth it! And speaking of smoke, the same drawing technique can be used to produce clouds!

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Power of creation whilst making video games is unprecedented. It only took as much as several lines to create the sky and it is now time to create the earth, which happens to require significantly more effort. Let’s get to work then!

There you have it! Now you can save the file, play it whenever you feel like or copy it on your phone and perhaps even challenge your friends! And don’t forget to tweak and extend the game in all possible ways! Maybe you can change the colours? Or even the music! The code is not commented, but in the end, it is you who typed it! And don’t forget to show your work! Cheers!

Sos


April 21-26, 2015

THE NEXT GENERATION OF GAMING EVENTS! connecTing gAmes cUlTUre, bUsiness & TecHnologY Enjoy 7 days full of: conferences, exhibitions, parties, matchmaking events, investor meet-ups, esports matches, recruitment fairs, concerts, press showcases, VIP get-togethers, award shows & many more. In the of Berlin!

www.gAmesweekberlin.com


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Deathwhiff 3000 is a fourplayer cooperative game developed during the summer of 2014 as part of a game design class taught by Heather Kelley, Playing with the Senses, at Concordia University in Montreal, Quebec. Presented with the challenge to integrate the sense of smell into a playful interaction, a team of artists developed a system for real-time scent delivery that associates key odorants with characters in the game. The Deathwhiff 3000 scent delivery hardware is at once a virtual and physical device – both the characters in the game and the players in the physical world use the device. Deathwhiff 3000 pushes the sensory experience of a traditional screen/ controller game by relying on the players’ sense of smell in order to achieve the game’s objective.

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nspired by Heather’s 2013 lecture The Challenges & Potential of Scent, the team set about creating a game where the use of scent would go beyond stimulus feedback, and operate as an essential component of gameplay. The concept took many forms during brainstorming sessions, with the goal to use scent as a means to differentiate visually similar characters. The original narrative involved werewolf lore; scent would be used to identify humans that had been bitten and infected by werewolves. This initial idea evolved into Deathwhiff 3000, a post-apocalyptic game in which an infectious virus transforms victims into zombies. The original concept was maintained for the sense of smell be used to differentiate characters in the game. The connection between the characters in the game and the players is through the scent delivery hardware, the Deathwhiff 3000 device. When they were unable to find a suitable offthe-shelf scent player, the team considered Mint Digital’s 3D printable Olly, a web connected smelly robot. But the Olly is only able to play a single scent. The game’s narrative required at least three distinct smells in addition to a fourth neutralizing odour to facilitate the differentiation between the odorants. For this reason, the team decided to design and build a custom scent player that could play four different smells, three corresponding to characters in the game, and one reserved for a neutralizing odour. The primary objective in Deathwhiff 3000 is to kill zombies and save humans. To achieve this goal and to encourage team play, the game was designed for four players, each with distinct roles – a tech, medic, and two hunters. The tech controls the Deathwhiff 3000 device and must sniff the humanlooking non-player characters (NPCs) to identify their level of infection. The medic must then either inoculate or vaccinate the

Deathwhiff 3000 Post-Mort

healthy and curable NPCs, or the hunters must kill the incurables and the zombies. As the tech performs the sniffing action, the physical Deathwhiff 3000 omits an odour. It is up to the players to identify the smell and determine if the NPC is either not infected and must be inoculated, infected and may be given an antivirus, or is incurable and must be killed. The medic’s role is to administer the inoculation or antivirus, and the hunters must kill the incurables and zombies. The medic is also able to revive the player characters if they become infected; however, the medic cannot self-heal and must therefore be protected. When the medic dies, the game ends. The challenge in designing and building the Deathwhiff 3000 device involved creating hardware that would deliver the odorants to the players without the smells becoming intermingled. Several different designs were sketched out and vetted before arriving at the

Oh, we have been doing that haven‘t we. Stuck on the same sequence of words, and starting over because we weren‘t paying attention. --------------------------------------› We have to look, or we‘ll never get anywhere. (goto 27) › Maybe we should just stop reading. Pretend we‘re done. (goto 28) ---------------------------------------

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provided the most convenient form being effective, inoffensive, and easy to work with. Coffee beans worked best as a neutralizing odour. The final selection of odorants for the NPCs were: 1.For uninfected humans that must be inoculated, Soap & Water essential oil was used to create an impression of health. 2. For infected humans that must be given an antivirus, a mixture of Tea Tree, Eucalyptus, and Vetiver Bourbon essential oils were used to create an odour that combined a hint of the bad smell of

process. Primarily these challenges involved the relationship between player actions, collision detection, handling of array lists, handling of animations, and memory issues encountered during game optimization. For purposes of optimization, much of the artwork for the NPC sprite animations had to be sacrificed in order to preserve an effective gaming experience. In addition to these primary challenges, other issues were implementing four Playstation 3 controllers, and effectively calculating scoring throughout the game.

Uncertainty might be the most comforting...just in case we can sense it. We might need the solace of unknowing, or we’d be burned to death by all the staring eyes. ------------------------------------*** THE END ***

the span of four days, eight sprite sheets of 24 sprites each were generated as well as backgrounds and icons representing various objects in the game. In total, 206 assets were created. Unfortunately, due to the previously mentioned optimization issues, most of the NPC animations had to be cut. On Monday June 30th the game was presented at Concordia University, and there was an

Game, Concept & Design by The Deathwhiff Team Olivier Albaracin / Programming David Clark / Physical Computing & Narrative Milin Li / Programming & Graphic Design Nima Navab / Physical Computing & Programming Ana Tavera Mendoza / Animation & Graphic Design Music by Alexander Westcott Special thanks to Critical Hit Montreal and TAG for playtesting and reviewing the game.

final design: a custom-built airtight wooden box containing four small sealed containers for the different odorants. Four squirrel blower fans were mounted on one end of the box and connected to the air input of the sealed scent containers using PVC tubing. The air outputs of the scent containers were then connected to the other end of the wooden box with PVC tubing. All the tubing was sealed with silicon and hose clamps so that each odorant formed a sealed system within the wooden box, each scent with its own air intake and exhaust. Further leak proofing was achieved by installing extra tubing in the box to provide a greater air buffer between the scent containers and the outside of the wooden box. Finding scents that would effectively represent the NPCs in the game was a challenge. As mentioned above, these NPCs include uninfected humans that must be inoculated, humans that are infected and must be given an antivirus, as well as incurable humans who are beyond saving, and full-blown zombies. A scent was required for each character type, as well as one serving to reset the players’ sense of smell. At first, the team endeavoured to use organic smells; however, testing revealed that these types of smells were either ineffective or too offensive. Some examples of odorants that were tested include coffee, fish oil, strong cheese, liquid extracted from rotten vegetables, as well as a variety of essential oils. Through experimentation it was determined that essential oils

13 -------------------------------------------------------Why can‘t we just be left ALONE. Reading a book in public... -----------------------------------------------------------› ...isn‘t an invitation. (goto 2) › ...doesn‘t mean we have anything in common. (goto 18) ------------------------------------------------------------

Vetiver Bourbon with the more sanitary or medical smells of Tea Tree and Eucalyptus. 3. Finally, for the incurable and zombies that must be killed, Vetiver Bourbon essential oil was used for its distinct and bad smell. Through play testing, it was determined that the most effective placement of the Deathwhiff hardware was adjacent to the players, and at their chest level while seated. The gameplay pauses for four seconds when the team technician on-screen uses the virtual Deathwhiff to smell an NPC. During this four-second pause, the Deathwhiff 3000 omits one of the three key odorants, and the players have the opportunity to identify the smell and determine what course of action to take. After the four-second pause, the scent fan shuts off and the fan associated with the neutralizing coffee odorant turns on to reset the players’ sense of smell. Since the first release of Deathwhiff 3000 needed to be completed within a two-week time frame, Processing was selected based on the artists’ skill sets. However, the Processing environment is not ideal for coding heavy games. A number of challenges were encountered during the development

In developing the graphics for Deathwhiff 3000, the two main goals were to create a cohesive aesthetic, and to enable the generation of a large amount of assets within a short time frame. Initially, a detailed and whimsical approach was taken with respect to the graphics, a style inspired by the game Castle Crashers. In addition, inspiration came from the game The Binding of Isaac, which successfully captures a grotesque aesthetic without being offensive. This stylistic approach was eventually modified to better mesh with the music composed for the game – the moody nature of the soundtrack called for a grittier aesthetic. Out of all the characters, the tech proved to be the most challenging to design. It was crucial that the graphical representation of the Deathwhiff 3000 device form a conceptual link between the virtual and physical hardware. After some experimentation with sketching a sniffer dog, it was decided that the tech be portrayed as a human carrying the Deathwhiff 3000 hardware, to better fit with the game’s narrative. The second goal to generate a large amount of graphic assets in a short timeframe was necessary to meet the deadline for the games first critique. Within

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overall positive response to both the concept and implementation. Critical Hit Montreal formed the first team of play-testers, and while they described this initial game as somewhat overwhelming, the second game ran much more smoothly. (In the first play-through no one was too sure as to the mechanics of a scent-based game!) During the second round Heather led the team as the sniffer tech, and her trained sense of smell led to much smoother gameplay. The Critical Hit team was generally impressed with Deathwhiff 3000. They did, however, provide some great comments on how to continue polishing the game. Mainly, it was agreed that a slower-paced tutorial level would be helpful to allow the players to familiarize themselves with the different scents in the game and the core mechanics. It was also suggested that more obvious visual feedback be provided to indicate when a player is attacked and hurt by a zombie. Finally, there were some issues with zombies being generated at a faster pace than the other NPC’s as well as the fact that the game had no concrete win-state. These issues are all being resolved and will be incorporated into a future revision of the game.

Deathwhiff 3000 was developed using Processing and Arduino, and sprites were made using Flash and Photoshop CS6. The Deathwhiff machine was manned with an Arduino UNO board.

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f computer games, in their immense variety, have anything in common, that may be their compulsion for efficiency and control. Computer games are the aesthetic form of rationalization. In sociology, rationalization refers to a process of replacement of traditions, customs and emotions as motivators of human conduct in favor of quantification and calculation. The notion was introduced at the turn of the 20th century by Max Weber, in his influential book The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism. Rationalization, a long-term historical process, has its most obvious manifestations in the rise of bureaucracies and in the industrial organization of production — which transformed our world in the last two centuries, and continues today engulfing increasingly larger aspects of our social life. While scientifically managed factories have nearly disappeared from our (Western) sight and rigid nation-state bureaucracies appear to be threatened by the fluid logic of networks, rationalization is at work in the sphere of culture and relationships. Commerce, food production and consumption are stripped out of their cultural specificity for the benefit of the economy of scale (Wal-martization, monoculture, McDonaldization); education is being reformatted around quantitative assessment and mechanical reproducibility (standardized tests, massive online courses); even our daily relationships are efficiently managed through online social networks which impose standard protocols and numeric rankings on previously irreducible social interactions. Videogames are built upon technologies of control and quantification, and they are still by and large informed by them. When we produce artful depictions of our world using computers, we inevitably carry over a cybernetic bias that could reinforce certain assumptions and mindsets. From the eyes of a computing machine, everything is mathematically defined and susceptible to rational calculation. Since games are typically goaloriented, all the elements and relationships within them tend to be reduced to means and ends. Developers frown upon introducing non-functional core mechanics as they represent an unnecessary cost and may add levels of ambiguity which alienate players. The verbs characterizing players’ action, when not related to direct violence, belong to the arsenal of rationalization: solving, clearing, managing, upgrading, collecting, estimating and so on. In strategy and management games, the simulated world is presented as a collection of resources to extract. The landscape is often subdivided into spatial units by grids or cells, and the actors inhabiting it are defined by the function they perform. Historical games like Civilization even project this modern vision toward the past, portraying ancient societies functioning like imperialistic nation-states devoid of any tradition or system of values other than the drive toward expansion. Skill-based videogames such as single player arcade, platformers or first person shooters, rarely leave room for creative or expressive play and demand efficiency of movements within clockwork environments. The phenomenon of speedruns (the recording of sessions performed as fast and flawlessly as possible) is the extreme response to this demand: the enthusiastic fruition of game spaces according to Taylorist principles. A great number of puzzles, from Tetris onward, deal with the systemic theme of order versus disorder and can be seen as abstract exercises in rationalization. The

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Videogames

and the Spirit of Capitalism iPhone game Async Corp. goes as far as to include this theme in its narrative presentation, complete with ironic use of corporate management lingo. Interpersonal relationships appear regularly instrumentalized in videogames. The Other — other from the player — exists only as a function of the player. Non-playing characters are typically locked into friends vs. enemies binary role. Animal companionship in Pokemon is warped into a twisted proxy fight, while romance in action/adventure games appears as a mere plot device, usually involving an objectified female character. Contemporary trends in game development offer even more

promotion of these titles. The “social” aspect of social games consists in the exploitation of pre-existing friendship networks: information about game-events is automatically posted on social media and players are constantly encouraged to convert Facebook contacts into new users. The motivation to recruit new players, however, is not the

Their themes deal with management and expansion of farms, cities, restaurants or castles, and their gameplay demands a constant negotiation between ingame and off-game time. Every action costs a substantial amount of idle time (symbolizing labor), which forces the player to put the game session in stand-by for minutes or hours before advancing another step. The optimization of game time bleeds into the players’ lives, as they may interrupt other

Paolo Pedercini, game designer (@molleindustria)

players with simplistic, stress-free mechanics; they provide a space for self-expression and identity performance online; they tap into a common consumerist compulsion offering a cheaper alternative to the hoarding of physical commodities. But above everything, these games are the result of a rigorous design process that maximizes addictiveness. Traditional game design, despite the industrial organization of major game companies, has always been considered a creative and, into some extent, intuitive process. What Zynga perfected is an iterative, scientific approach to game making where every user interaction is registered and analyzed. The most effective elements (i.e. whatever pushes players to spend more money or return more frequently) are then amplified and multiplied throughout the game. In this metrics-driven process users become assets to extract value from, as opposed to audience or loyal fans paying for entertainment. To bring everything full circle, enter the concept of gamification.

As she jumps over moving platforms, blows up barrels at the right time, collects glowing gems, looks for treasure chests, scores a head-shot, storms an alien base, perfects her racing line, upgrades her weapons, allots a perfect square of land, gets an extra life, recruits a companion, seizes mineable resources, invests in a new infrastructure, persuades a character, puts a falling block into place… as she learns by trial and error, wins, loses… as she does all of this, my fellow player may realize that all of her actions pertain to a specific mode of thinking and acting.

clear examples of this special relationship between computer games and instrumental rationality. Social games on Facebook and mobile devices have been the fastest growing sector of the gaming industry in recent years. With hits like Farmville, San Francisco-based company Zynga achieved an almost complete dominance of the market, acquiring hundreds of millions of active users in the span of a few months. This explosive success is in large part due to the player-driven viral

pleasure of a game in company of friends (direct interaction between users is paradoxically very limited in this type of game), but rather to benefit from their occasional help. In other words, players are encouraged to see their non-playing friends as potential resources to further their individual goals. Farmville and its spin-offs are peculiar in that they are both the products and the heralds of a rationalizing ideology.

activities to take care of their virtual cows. To the most impatient players, Zynga offers a way out of this dreary routine: they can pay “real” money to acquire upgrades and virtual goods instantly, bypassing long waits. Needless to say, these paid shortcuts have been the main source of revenue for Zynga. Why do people decide to subject themselves to exploitative systems like Farmville? The reasons are several: they cater to non-habitual

The marketing buzzword refers to the application of game-like elements such as points, quests and levels to non-game activities in an effort to make them more fun and engaging. Gamification techniques attribute arbitrary and quantifiable rewards in an attempt to incentivize certain actions such as generating content online, adopting a specific pattern of consumption, or acquiring “positive” habits. The users’ score is typically made public to leverage a desire for competition and status.

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1 4 ----------------------------------Like „why are you wearing that“, or „I heard that book isn‘t very good“. -------------------------------------› Exactly... (goto 22) › Or „you‘ve been here too long, and only ordered coffee“. (goto 1) --------------------------------------

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Do we believe in scopaesthesia? Actually being able to tell if someone is staring right at us? How do we even remember that term? -------------------------------------› I think we watched a special on weird science... (goto 24) › Maybe it is a real thing. (goto 21) --------------------------------------

The hype surrounding gamification raised many objections regarding the effectiveness of such a crude form of behavioral control, but these concerns should be left to marketers’ speculation. Feasible or not, gamification is the object of desire of contemporary capitalism and, as such, deserves attention because it prefigures trends to come. It’s the fantasy of measurement of the unmeasurable (lifestyle, affects, activism, reputation, self esteem…), as measurement is a precondition for commodification. It’s the new frontier in the rationalization of our lives. French sociologist Roger Caillois famously noted that play is “an occasion of pure waste: waste of time, energy, ingenuity, skill, and often of money”. Playing games per se may appear as the ultimate non-instrumental activity, the perfect antithesis to economic production and reproduction. But the act of playing, especially a computer-assisted, cyberneticallybiased variety, can cultivate the capitalist mindset and value system — regardless of what the specific games are intended to portray or narrate. It is certainly not hard to find instances of rationalization and instrumental thinking in the world we inhabit. What Max Weber painted as an “iron cage” may have simply become the air we breathe in capitalist societies. Now, I want to make clear that I don’t see this bias as something that inevitably invalidates every effort in promoting different values. All media and cultural forms have their own features and biases. In the past some writers started to see books as limiting and inherently hierarchical. So they proposed hypertexts as a way to empower the reader. Similarly, filmmakers transcended the inherent linearity of moving images by developing linguistic devices like flashback, flashforward, parallel editing and so on. The tendency toward instrumental rationality offers a path of least resistance: it’s easier to make a game about shooting or physics than a game about a complicated friendship. It’s just something that designers have to be aware of and work against. In videogames as in society at large, we can find subterranean tendencies and fleeting acts of resistance that tenaciously reaffirm the irreducibility of human consciousness. Outside the mainstream, more and more independent works are rejecting rigid goal-oriented gameplays in favor of exploration and non-linear storytelling. The so-called “notgames” crafted by Belgian developers Tale of Tales pose ambiguous challenges and intentionally deter a “teleological” mode of play. The sensual, dreamlike nature of their creations offers a rich alternative to the world of ends and means of traditional games, without stripping the player of her agency. The synesthetic exploration game Proteus revolves around the idle


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enjoyment of a desert island as it changes though seasons. Proteus’ hyper-nature is sacred by design: it can’t be exploited nor manipulated, but only experienced with the attentive eyes and ears of an ethologist, botanist, and weatherman. Storytelling can be a powerful balancing force in the calculated worlds of computer games. Richard Hofmeier’s Cart Life is a “working poor simulation” destined to become a landmark title in the growing movement of art house games. Cart Life puts the player in the shoes of a single mom or a migrant worker trying to make a living by operating a pushcart or a newsstand. The twist on the well-known lemonade stand genre is in the painstaking simulation of the most disparate aspects of everyday life. The player has to apply for permits, fight in court for the daughter’s custody, rest and eat regularly, take care of her cat and loved ones, possibly fall in love, all of this and much more while trying to keep her business afloat . The brilliance of Cart Life is in the way it puts narrative and exploration elements in direct competition with the brutal resource management gameplay. There is an economy of material necessity made of debt, logistics, paper napkins inventory, swift espresso-making gestures, and

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a parallel “human economy” of relationship, reputation, love and care. As in Proteus, there are many little gems disseminated in a sprawling scenario: unexpected dialogues and interactions, backstories, whimsical sequences… but in order to experience them the player has to subtract precious time from her quantifiable activity. In Cart Life the numeric, formalized, computational core of the game is exposed in its harshness while the loose, narrative, player-driven component outlines an enticing world of qualities — possibly, even a different way of living. There are many ways to deal with the cybernetic bias of videogames. In multiplayer games is possible to subtract portions of play from totalizing computational structures. Hybrid digital/physical games like B.U.T.T.O.N. by the Copenhagen Game Collective, J.S. Joust by Douglas Wilson, or Space Team by Henry Smith are centered around analog-to-digital game interfaces but intentionally leave a space of interaction free of computational protocols. B.U.T.T.O.N. players have to rush toward the game controllers and

Local multiplayer video games are those that can be played by two or more people in the same physical space – think old classics like Pong, or, even better, recent ones such as Spaceteam, Johann Sebastian Joust and Glitch Tank. I wrote this explanation because it’s important not to take things for granted, but mostly as an excuse to mention Glitch Tank, a criminally underrated game. Go play it.

perform simple actions according to prompts appearing on the screen, but in doing so they are forced to negotiate the boundaries of acceptable play and the evaluate the performance of other players on behalf of the machine. In J.S. Joust, players engage in a sensor-assisted slow-motion tag game, where the rules of engagements are defined and redefined by “community of play” forming around the event. The local cooperative game Space Team requires players to operate an interface dispersed on the respective tablets and smartphones. While the machine provides clear goals and demands maximum efficiency, the players are required to negotiate a fluid communication protocol outside the formalized game world. In my Molleindustria project I often deal with issues of alienation and labor. Games like Tamatipico, Tuboflex, Every Day the Same Dream or Unmanned, thematize

the struggle of individuals inscribed into bureaucratic and dehumanizing systems. I also tried to create alternative management games that problematize the issue of rationalization. Games like the McDonald’s Videogame or Oiligarchy embrace tropes and conventions of the genre: players manage a production process trying to maximize profits, they are presented with an objectified nature ready to be exploited, they invest resources according to numerical trends and feedback, etc. But instead of portraying these activities as natural and neutral, these games introduce elements of criticality that subvert players’ expectation: the exploitation of the environment has troubling consequences, the attempts to exert control over workers, consumers and indigenous

We are only learning to speak of immeasurable qualities through videogames. It’s a slow and collective process of hacking accounting machines into expressive machines. Computer games need to learn from their non-digital counterparts to be loose interfaces between people. A new

game aesthetic has to be explored: one that revels in problem-making over problem-solving, that celebrates paradoxes and ruptures, that doesn’t eschew broken and dysfunctional systems because the broken and dysfunctional systems governing our lives need to be unpacked and not idealized. Strategies are to be discovered: poetic wrenches have to be thrown in the works; gears and valves have to grow hair, start pulsing and breathing; algorithms must learn to tell stories and scream in pain.

16 ----------------------------------Ah! Did we see that? There WERE eyes looking at us! -------------------------------------› They were staring... (goto 31) › ...or did they just turn to look at us because they noticed us turning to look at everyone? (goto 30) --------------------------------------

#localmultiplayer Since I’m very interested in local multiplayer, I regularly look at the search results for those two words on Twitter and take note of the most interesting/entertaining stuff that gets written about the topic. Today I’d like to share with what I’ve learnt in the last few months through this process, directly quoting the original authors. First of all, there are some people who are very enthusiastic about local multiplayer: In a world where we’re all connected by the Internet, local multiplayer still plays a huge role and will always be around, no matter what. (@Mikaufoxy)  Local multiplayer needs to make a comeback. Nothing can replace playing games with friends right there with you. (@MarcStraight) 

Had that rarest of things yesterday. A local multiplayer gaming session. Sad that that’s rare these days. (@SirMimeOfHorde) 

No eyes to stare at home, right? ------------------------------------*** THE END ***

populations cause backlashes and protests and so on. In a nutshell, the so-called “negative externalities” of a production process and the capitalist conflicts are included in the simulated world, sometimes at the expenses of playability and elegance in design.

Lorenzo Pilia, founder of localmultiplayer.com (@lorenzopilia)

Others are a bit concerned:

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There aren’t enough games with local multiplayer. Do kids not have real friends anymore? (@ERWhite_)  Apparently no, in many cases they don’t have friends (or at least not nearby): We are in a local multiplayer renaissance right now and that makes me sad because I don’t have friends. :) (@RTJamerson) 

Local multiplayer only games make me realize that I am alone (@speakr4thedead)  only local multiplayer oh well (@konec0)  The lack of friends is an incredibly common complaint, believe me. But are we looking at the issue from the right angle? Waiting for the moment when gamers realize that local multiplayer could help them GET and HANG OUT with friends ... ... [dies of old age] (@metasynthie)  I have made A LOT of friends during local multiplayer sessions. I have made NO friends during online multiplayer sessions. (@S0phieH)  Ok, easy: make new friends by playing games together. But how, where? Local multiplayer is much better than online multiplayer. Let’s all move into one giant house, like pals. (@joffocakes)  That sounds great, albeit a bit impractical. Other options? kind of want to start a couch co-op gathering every week for people interested in awesome local multiplayer games. (@TuskCollector)  Now that local multiplayer is back and cafés are a big deal, can we please combine the two and totally create the new “arcade?” :) If it could look like an actual friendly cafe and not a creepy hacker space that’d be rad too (@infinite_ammo)  Why is there no Tinder for people that want to play local

code poem by Olle Lundahl, game designer, Redgrim (@reallyolle)


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Kill Screen: Transparency Turns into Opacity Game Art between Immediacy and Hypermediacy

Fig. 1 Stephan Schwingeler, curator at ZKM (@Schwingeler)

Artists who work with video and computer games develop artistic modifications (“art mods”) of the original forms of commercial games. They have the goal of making the user aware that the games are determined by and dependent on technological apparatus, media, and code. The artists alienate, distort, and subvert the original games for this purpose. As a medium, video games strive to achieve the greatest possible immediacy. That during the act of gaming players operate within a complex array of apparatus consisting, for example, of a computer, mouse, keyboard and screen on which computation processes cause technical images to materialise, is something that ideally the users should remain unaware of or suppress. The apparatus and media on which games rely – the processes of computation and mediation – should remain as invisible as possible. Gamers are supposed to see a transparent game world. A basic approach of artistic video game modifications is to work against this striving for transparency of video games, and to cloud visibility of the Fig. 2 game world (in terms of media theory to turn transparency into a state of opacity). In this way art mods unmask the illusionist techniques of the video game: through altering or even destroying the graphics, Fig. 2 the spatial configurations, and the physical simulations by making them abstract or integrating graphics errors. These interventions break open the hermetic shell of the apparatus or the smooth visual user interfaces of the games, and this enables insights into the games’ structures. The ambivalent aspect of these artworks, however, often lies in the fact that

although they make use of an explicitly interactive medium, they limit the possibilities of players and users to intervene, which in extreme cases can result in the paradox of an unplayable game. Unplayable games are games used for purposes other than intended: they are audiovisual artefacts that, although interactive by definition, do not react in an expected way or sometimes even at all to the inputs of the users. They are not videos or any other kind of linear media form, but are still video games — albeit suspended in a kind of uncertain state. For the video game has been put into a changed context by stripping it of its intended purpose. In this way artists make general statements about the controversial concept of interactivity by demonstrating that it is an illusory technique, which can be most accurately described as a cybernetic feedback loop constantly switching between the actions of the user and the reaction of the computer and its programs. Thus, artists raise fundamental questions not only about the design of video games with regard to a hyperrealism

that emulates photography and film, but also about the general relationship of humans to computers and how they are used. From the point of view of art history, this demonstrates that a determinative artistic strategy is involved, which seeks to get to grips with the new material of video games and gaming.

Transparency and Opacity: The Example of Pac-Man Fig. 1: Kill screen in Pac-Man (Namco, 1980). The layer underneath the game’s digital images becomes visible; something that looks like code appears on the user interface together with the digital images. A kill screen is the last image of any classic arcade game: the software of the game crashes. Figure 1 shows the end of the game PacMan from 1980. If the player reaches Level 256, which according to the game design is actually not intended, something unexpected happens: letters and strange symbols suddenly appear on the righthand side of the screen in Pac-Man’s labyrinth, which actually belong to the technical background of the images, and are therefore usually not visible. In this last screen of the game, the kill screen reveals what lies underneath the images and the game: disruptive symbols and letters surface and become visible to the player because of a non-diegetic machine act. The technical layer of the game, which is normally hidden, is revealed

and becomes in this case a part of the game’s images. This has a direct effect on the game: it renders the game almost impossible to play because it ceases to function in the intended way. The symbols block the paths of the characters, and ultimately immobilise them. Characters are no longer able to

Fig. 2 A reprogrammed Quake: The Level Ctrl-Space from JODI’s series Untitled Game (1998–2001). The modification of the game’s source code has radically changed its appearance and therefore the gameplay as well. The game has shifted into opacity, and as a result the medium is now suspended in a paradoxical state of nonplayability. Fig. 1 Kill screen in Pac-Man (Namco, 1980), screenshot, URL: http://en.wikipedia.org/ wiki/File:Pac-Man_split-screen_kill_screen. png [19.03.2014] Fig. 2 Reprogrammed Quake: The Level CtrlSpace from Jodi’s series Untitled Game. Screenshot, URL: http://www.untitled-game. org/ug5.html [19.03.2014]

move around within the game environment. The kill screen reveals — at the moment it circumvents the functionality of the computer game — the hidden underlying layer of a double image that is not intended to be seen by the user. This visualises the media and technology conditionality of the gaming experience. The example of the kill screen demonstrates how something invisible becomes visible. These processes can be more precisely characterised by the pair of terms transparency and opacity. Here, two (ideal) conditions of a medium are identified: in a state of transparency the medium is invisible, and in a state of opacity it is visible. In the state of transparency, when the medium is hidden and disappears, the reception of a medium’s content and behaviour can be described as immediate or direct. And when, for example, the hidden technical side of a double image comes through to the surface and thus propels the medium into the foreground, the immediate experience is transformed into a state of nonimmediacy. Immediacy is in media theory an ideal state. Accordingly, the kill screen in Pac-Man is an exceptional case – a system error – which shifts the “successful” uninterrupted functioning of the medium from a state of immediacy into one of hypermediacy (See Bolter and Grusin’s concept of remediation). To analyse artistically this fluctuation back and forth between transparency and opacity is a strategy that is essential for engaging with video games as artistic material.

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19 ----------------------------------------Yeah, but usually they are background, white noise. Someone here isn‘t just looking around. Invisible lines, tendrils tickling the back of our neck. -------------------------------------------› Just stop it. (goto 10) › Ugh, it‘s moving down my neck... (goto 15) --------------------------------------------

We have learned that we can‘t just trust anyone. Especially when we don‘t know who they are! A movie, book, restaurant...this means nothing to us. We like it here, but don‘t like everyone here. -----------------------------------------› We will look quickly and deliberately... to discourage the stare. (goto 8) ------------------------------------------

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20 -----------------------------We‘re too afraid! If we look and they see us looking, they‘ll know we know. ---------------------------------› And then make some comment that ruins my afternoon... (goto 14) › ...or worse, want to chat about something. (goto 13) ----------------------------------


Comic by David Calvo, game designer (@metagaming)


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A Letter to Young Internet Artists Emilie Gervais (@Emilie_Gervais)

21 -----------------------------We are complex. Probably capable of much more than WE even realize. That scares us the most. ---------------------------------› It‘s probably best we don‘t know. (goto 12) ----------------------------------

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Wie kam es zu der Idee, ein Game Science Center in Berlin zu eröffnen? Cyrill und ich sind Crowdfunding Enthusiasten. Und es ist in den letzten Jahren so wahnsinnig viel in Sachen Interaktion durch Crowdfunding passiert, was wir einfach cool fanden. Das Oculus Rift, das Omni, der Stem Controller und dann auch noch die vielen Spiele – das waren alles Dinge, die uns sehr begeistert haben und wir wollten das mit anderen Leuten teilen. Speziell auch mit Leuten, die nicht mehrere Stunden am Tag auf Kickstarter oder Indigogo surfen. Wir wollten einen Ort, an dem man das alles anfassen und ausprobieren kann. Da es das nicht gab, haben wir uns gesagt: Dann machen wir das halt auf. Das hat sich mit der Zeit dann von einem reinen Showroom für Crowdfunding zu einer Ausstellung von allen möglichen interaktiven Projekten und Technologien entwickelt. Berlin war der perfekte Ort, um unsere Idee umzusetzen. Die Stadt ist sehr offen für neue Ideen und ein Schmelztiegel an Kreativen, der einfach wahnsinnig gut zu unserer Ideen passt.

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Die Eröffnung ist im September 2014. Was werden wir zu sehen bekommen?  Da ist für jeden was dabei: Virtual Reality mit dem Rift, Augmented Reality, Motion Tracking, Eye Tracking – und das sind nur die Sachen, die in klar definierte Schubladen passen. Wir wollten uns nicht auf eine Sache spezialisieren, sondern zeigen, was man so alles Interaktives mit der heutigen Technik machen kann. Wir wollten, dass Leute die intuitive Steuerung von Proton Pulse ausprobieren und eine immersive Erfahrung wie Lunar Flight haben, in der Augmented Reality Sandbox buddeln können, mit Nagual Dance Musik durch Tanz generieren und Space Invaders mit Ping Pong Bällen bekämpfen können und, und, und…

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Nach welchen Kriterien wurden die Installationen und Games ausgewählt?  Wir haben mit den Technologien angefangen, die uns begeistert haben und dann im 2. Schritt nach coolen Projekten für diese Hardware gesucht. Nehmen wir mal das Oculus Rift als Beispiel. Das ist richtig cool und es ist noch cooler, wenn man Software und Applikationen findet, die es so richtig gut in Szene setzen. Da haben wir, als Gamer, natürlich zuerst an Spiele gedacht. Ist ja klar! Spiele sind von Natur aus so ausgelegt, dass man schnell in einen Spielfluss reinkommen und Spaß haben soll. Proton Pulse ist zum Beispiel unser Favorit in der Hinsicht: super einfach reinzukommen und es ist als wenn man mit dem Kopf in dem Spiel steckt.

Why can‘t they mind their own business. Why can‘t we just like the things we like, and be ourselves without their eyes telling us we aren‘t good enough? ---------------------------------› I try not to care, but we still hate the judgement. (goto 7) › I wish we could be a blind spot. (goto 6) ----------------------------------

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Was macht Independent Games zu einem wichtigen Bestandteil des GSC?  Indie Games liegen uns am Herzen, weil sie Risiken eingehen und neue Wege beschreiten. Es geht nicht um Marken oder um Serien von Spielen, sondern um immer wieder neue kreative Ideen und neue Ansätze mit Interaktion umzugehen. Zum Beispiel, Kinect gibt es seit Jahren und es hat bis jetzt gedauert, dass etwas wie Nagual Dance, ein Spiel in dem man übers Tanzen Musik generiert, das Licht der Welt erblicken kann. Indie Games und ihre Entwickler sind die ersten, die neue Technologien annehmen und sich damit austoben. Oder sogar so weit gehen, dass sie sagen, es gibt den Controller mit dem ich spielen will noch nicht, dann bau’ ich ihn halt selbst. Diese Einstellung und Energie ist einfach genial – das begeistert und inspiriert uns immer wieder aufs Neue.

5 Fragen an Cay Kellinghusen, der mit Cyrill Etter zusammen das Game Science Center gegründet hat.

Game Science Center @GSC_Berlin www.gamesciencecenter.de

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Die Mischung macht’s! Wen versucht ihr anzusprechen und was wollt ihr vermitteln?  Wir wollen alle Menschen ansprechen, die auszuprobieren wollen, was interaktive Technik so alles kann.Wir wollen, dass Gamer, Techies und Early-Adopters uns besuchen und danach überlegen, was könnte man für coole Erfahrungen kreieren, wenn man diese coolen Neuerungen kombiniert. Gleichzeitig freuen wir uns darauf, dass uns Nicht-Gamer und nicht so technik-affine Leute besuchen und einen Überblick darüber bekommen, wie sie mit dem Computer interagieren können. Vor allem möchten wir zeigen, was bei Leuten wie uns auf dem Wunschzettel fürs nächste Weihnachten steht ;-)

Und Leute, die wir kennen, haben uns dann auf noch mehr coole Projekte hingewiesen. Daraus ist dann mit der Zeit das buntgemischte Line-Up geworden, dass wir unseren Besuchern ab 1. September zum Ausprobieren anbieten werden. Und ist natürlich unendlich erweiterbar:Wenn also Leser etwas kennen, das total cool ist, was Leute gesehen haben müssen, können sie sich gerne bei uns melden. Wir sind immer gespannt von neuen Ideen zu hören.

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23 ----------------------------------------------Yeah, maybe they‘ll give up. Maybe they‘ll think you didn‘t notice and not stare at anyone anymore. -------------------------------------------------› We‘d be doing everyone else a favor. (goto 4) › I don‘t know how long I read the same page over and over again though... (goto 11) --------------------------------------------------


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Featured Games at Gamescom 2014

Interview mit Martin Nerurkar und Oliver Eberlei (@IndieArena)

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At least we admit it. We will take care of us, no matter what happens tonight. -------------------------------------*** THE END ***

Was sind eure Schwerpunkte? Von Anfang an war unser Ziel ganz klar, die DACH-Indies zu verknüpfen und zu bündeln. Wir wussten, dass es eine Szene gab, aber sie war größtenteils unsichtbar für uns, und für die internationale Presse. Das wollten wir mit der Indie Arena ändern. Das hieß zuerst ein Kennenlernen, dann ein gegenseitiger Austausch und schließlich gemeinsame Projekte. Bei letzterem sind wir immer wieder begeistert von den Synergieeffekten (Ja, ich hab’ “Synergie” gesagt...) und positiven Ergebnissen, die aus dem Forum kommen. Der Quo Vadis oder der Gamescom Stand sind sicher die größten Resultate, aber auch die kleinen Hilfestellungen, die sich so ergeben, sind einfach schön.

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Kann jeder Teil der Arena werden? Wie kann man euch erreichen? Jein. Registrierung für das Forum ist nur über Einladung möglich. Dafür haben wir uns entschieden, da es uns sehr wichtig ist eine fokussierte Community zu sein. Darum konzentrieren wir uns auch primär auf unabhängige Spieleentwickler, die sich mit dem Indie Gedanken identifizieren können. Das bedeutet für uns diejenigen, die möglichst nah an der Spielentwicklung dran sind: Programmierer, Designer, Writer, Artists, Sound Designer etc. Und weil es bei uns auch nicht um Details der tatsächlichen Umsetzung geht, sollte man auch schon mal ein eigenes Spiel gemacht haben. Mehr Informationen dazu gibt’s aber auf unserer Webseite www.indiearena.de

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vr Bits @DarkfieldVR Darkfield VR

Yes, that was it. We felt like they left it open ended...inconclusive, but maybe the show was more about entertainment than science. -------------------------------------------------› Maybe it‘s ok that we don‘t know. (goto 12) --------------------------------------------------

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Seid wann gibt es die Indie Arena und was verbirgt sich hinter dem Namen? Die Indie Arena hat Mitte 2013 ihre Pforten geöffnet. Angefangen hat das Ganze als ein Forum für die unabhängige Spieleentwicklerszene im deutschsprachigen Raum (DACH). Mittlerweile sind wir aber ein bisschen mehr als nur ein Forum, wir sind eine tolle, kleine Community geworden.

Dreamworlds N/A Splatter

Ihr seid zum zweiten Mal auf der Gamescom mit einem Stand. Wie war das Debüt und was sind die Erwartungen diese Jahr? Das Debüt ist richtig gut gelungen. Zum einen war es großartig, andere Entwickler der deutschen Community zu treffen.Wir hatten aber auch ein paar internationale Freunde an unserem Stand. Frei nach dem Motto “Die Summe ist größer als ihre Einzelteile” konnten wir so auf so einer riesigen Messe wie der Gamescom sogar auffallen. Unter all den Ständen der großen Entwickler war unser Stand aus Holz einfach etwas Besonderes. Eben unabhängig gebaut ;) Am ersten Tag hatte dann einer der Entwickler noch die Idee, dass wir einfach Stifte auslegen und jeden Besucher unterschreiben lassen und der Charme war perfekt. Das passte richtig zu unseren Spielen und deren Entwicklern. In diesem Jahr erweitern wir unser Angebot ein wenig auf zwölf Entwickler und die Mischung ist wieder großartig. Auch der alte Stand ist zurück und wir hoffen, dass viele ihre Unterschrift oder ihre Skizze vom letzten Jahr wieder entdecken können. Wie auch im letzten Jahr schon ist die gesamte Planung sehr kurzfristig, aber es ist schon Klasse zu sehen, was man als Gruppe in vier Wochen so erreichen kann. In diesem Jahr kann man uns in Halle 9 an Stand A-032 finden, direkt zwischen Nintendo, Bethesda und Turtle. Aber mit unseren Games können wir da locker mithalten :-)

Mimimi Productions @MimimiProd The Last Tinker: City of Colors

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Wird die Indie Arena auch international sichtbar werden? Da ich nicht in die Zukunft schauen kann ist es schwer, das zu beantworten. Das ist natürlich ganz klar das Ziel, aber ob das funktioniert ist unklar. Das gestaltet sich natürlich auch schwierig, wenn das Forum selbst geschlossen ist. Um das etwas zu beheben haben wir einen (viel zu selten aktualisierten) Blog (blog.indiearena.de) und auch das großartige Mitgliederverzeichnis, das der Oliver gebaut hat.

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Wohin soll die Reise gehen? Ziele aber auch gerne eine Vision? Die Vernetzung der DACH-Indies ist uns ganz gut gelungen. Da gibt es sicherlich noch mehr als genug da draußen, die noch nicht von uns gehört haben. Die zu erreichen und die Community weiterhin langsam wachsen zu lassen wäre natürlich schön. Aber das passiert auch ohne unser Zutun ganz gut. Was für uns jetzt eher auf dem Plan steht ist das Bewusstsein für die Indie Arena nach Außen weiter zu verbessern. Sowohl national und international. Und dafür haben wir auch schon ein paar Ideen, aber da Indie Arena für Jana und mich immer nur ein Nebenprojekt ist, geht ist das natürlich alles etwas langsam...

Klonk UG Twitter: @klonkgames Mercury Shift 3D Alasdair Beckett-King / Application Systems Heidelberg @ncootalot Nelly Cootalog Zeppelin Studio @Zeppelin_GS Schein Dissident Logic @DanHolbert Paperbound Data Realms @DataRealms Planetoid Pioneers

Aren

27 ----------------------------...ok. If we‘re sure. We‘ll do it. Really quick, just a look to see if they are looking at us. We‘ll pretend we heard a sound, or had a thought about something we read. ---------------------------------› Here we go... (goto 16) ----------------------------------

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We lie to us all the time! How can we trust us!? WE are probably being watched and we are IN on it. WE aren‘t speaking to us anymore! --------------------------------------------*** THE END ***

Brightside Games @brightsidegames Team Indie

a

Shark Punch @SharkPunchHQ The Masterplan Flauchers Finest @flauchersfinest j.a.r.g. frame6 / Application Systems Heidelberg @frame6games Splee & Glob

scan for good music

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Illustration by Marius Winter, game designer, Major Bueno (@MajusArts)


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2 9 ----------------------------The busiest places! Reading, writing, thinking...and no stray eyes to interrupt us. This is a daydream we enjoy very much! --------------------------------*** THE END ***

s a W Interview mit Ina Göring Funding Media Development / Innovative Audio-Visual Content Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg (@medienboard)

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Das Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg fördert nun schon seit dem Jahre 2006 Games Projekte.  Woran misst sich ein von euch erfolgreich gefördertes Game.  

Im Sinne von, was zeichnet Games aus, die von uns gefördert werden? Dann sind das mehrere Komponenten. Grundsätzlich sind alle Genres willkommen – aber das Spiel sollte natürlich innovativ sein, ein überzeugendes Gameplay haben und sich damit möglichst von vergleichbaren Spielen deutlich absetzen. Wir fördern sowohl gestandene Games-Firmen mit Track-Record als auch vielversprechende Nachwuchsprojekte. Sehr wichtig ist uns natürlich auch, dass die Entwicklung des Spiels Investitionen in unsere Region Berlin-Brandenburg bringt, d.h. das Spiel wird von in unserer Region ansässigen Studios entwickelt oder aber mit Partnern aus unserer Region. Stichwort Regionaleffekt. Wir wollen der Branche dabei helfen, hier nachhaltig zu wachsen. Dabei sollen sich kreative Vielfalt und Wirtschaftlichkeit im besten Falle ergänzen.

g e ht

in

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Was Ihre Agenda betrifft, wo setzen Sie an um Berlin-Brandenburg attraktiver zur internationale Game Studios zu machen? 

Berlin-Brandenburg ist bereits sehr attraktiv! Eine spannende Weltmetropole mit einer lebendigen Gamesszene, mit einem sehr guten Preisleistungsverhältnis, tollen Ausbildungsangeboten und mit außergewöhnlichen Events wie der International Games Week - es ist alles da. Das ist eine sehr komfortable Ausgangssituation. Es geht jetzt eher darum, diesen Fakt noch bekannter zu machen. Wir haben hier gleich mehrere Strategien. Zum einen repräsentieren wir den Standort auf Veranstaltungen und Fachmessen im Inund Ausland, zum anderen unterstützen wir die Branche hier gezielt mit unserer Förderung in der Kategorie „Innovative Audiovisuelle Inhalte“ bei spannenden Games-Projekten. Unter anderem, damit diese Ideen schneller entwickelt werden können und international wettbewerbsfähig sind. Eine gesunde und innovative Branche strahlt auch nach außen und wirbt neue Player an. Da wo etwas Tolles passiert, da will man sein. Das funktioniert überall auf der Welt gleich – und das funktioniert sehr gut für Berlin. In den letzten Jahren konnten wir uns über den Zuzug zahlreicher großer Player und innovativer Entwickler freuen. Für alle veranstalten und fördern wir große Events, Weiterbildungs- und Networkingveranstaltungen, damit die Szene gut vernetzt bleibt und Ideen wachsen können. Wir arbeiten also in allen Bereichen für den Standort – von der Anwerbung von neuen Playern über Networking und Ausbildung bis hin zur Umsetzung konkreter Projekte.

Berlin

In wieweit werden da Independent Games am Standort Berlin-Brandenburg berücksichtigt?

Sie sind ein wichtiger Bestandteil unserer Förderarbeit. Innerhalb der Games Week unterstützen wir die A Maze. Und im Rahmen unseres Förderprogrammes „Innovative Audiovisuelle Inhalte“ fördern wir immer wieder und sehr gerne unabhängige Spieleentwickler. Nur ein Beispiel von vielen ist das Jump&Run Game „Team Indie“ der Berliner Brightside Games. Es vereinigt diverse Spiel-Charaktere aus erfolgreichen Indie-Spielen – u.a. Helden aus Computerspielen weiterer Berliner Studios wie Kunst-Stoff und Black Pants. Nicht zu vergessen sind auch Games für Kinder – von denen wir ein paar sehr erfolgreiche, wie z.B. die „Wimmelburg“ der Wolkenlenker UG gefördert haben und die mittlerweile ihre Förderung sogar zurückzahlen können!

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Rami Ismail game designer, Vlambeer (@tha_rami)

I Always Mention I Made a Game About Fishing With Machineguns, too Airplanes feel more stable up in the air than they do during takeoff, even though the forces on the craft are strong enough to practically suck a 300,000 kilogram heavy vehicle up into the air. The distinct moment when the wheels stop touching the ground changes the heavy rumble of the wheels on the ground into a smooth glide. For most flights, I bring my noise-cancelling headphones, some good music and a laptop. In a way, the cabin of an Airbus is the closest I have to an office. I know where the light and air regulation is, I know how to get a drink or a snack, I can adjust my seat and develop videogames. A majority of the work I’ve done on Nuclear Throne was executed in that office. It just so happens to be at 30,000 feet in the air, but who cares? Like many people that work in an office, my favorite thing about working in an office are those little office chats. Every now and then I’ll run into someone who has a job nothing similar to mine, a hopeful student or a retired couple, and we get to talk about life. Invariably, I mention I work on videogames, and invariably that evokes a certain curiosity. I have a trick to ensure a positive conversation when I talk about videogames with strangers. It’s a simple trick: I don’t mention I work in videogames. I don’t mention anything about the medium I work in until I’ve established that I consider myself a creative, my love for the medium and why I believe our medium is a positive force. I do not mention the word games, or even the broader branch of interactivity, until I’ve talked about everything else.

It’s not some sort of anchoring trick, where I try and create a positive impression by creating a positive context – my goals aren’t deceitful. The reason I do this is much more simple: it forces me to avoid our jargon. Games understandably have a giant lexicon of completely impenetrable jargon, whether we’re talking about analog sticks, FPS, LANs, bullethell, procedural generation or fatalities. We love wrapping ourselves up in our little personal mythology, and we nod when someone wears a shirt mentioning that the ‘cake is a lie’, and we grin when someone whistles the little melody of Link finding a secret corridor. We all speak ‘gaming’, gamers, publishers and developers each in their own separate dialect – dialects that aren’t necessarily clear to anyone speaking another dialect. When I talk about games to a stranger in an airplane, I like to talk about why I make games, and why I play games. About how this medium has taught me about history and politics, about strategy and tactics. I like to talk about how my work helps entertain people, and hopefully makes them think. I discuss why games are different and more exciting to me than other any medium. I talk about the wonders of Minecraft and the emotional impact of The Last of Us, the sense of skill in a match of Call of Duty and the eerie humanity of corruption in Papers, Please.

Unser Förderprogramm „Innovative Audiovisuelle Inhalte“ wurde Ende 2006 ins Leben gerufen und war damals das erste Länder-Förderprogramm überhaupt, welches auch Computerspiele gefördert hat. Berlin-Brandenburg hatte damals schon das richtige Gespür für das riesige kreative Potential der Gamesbranche. Da das Programm in der Pilotphase so gut von der Branche aufgenommen worden ist, wurde es 2010 in ein reguläres Förderprogramm überführt. Ähnliche Programme wurden dann auch von den anderen Bundesländern innerhalb der Film- und Medienförderungen aufgelegt. Wir haben jährlich ein Budget von einer Million Euro zur Verfügung. Mit der wachsenden Branche in unserer Region steigt auch die Zahl und Qualität der Förderanträge und des angefragten Volumens mit jeder Deadline. So haben wir die schöne Qual der Wahl, aus den vielen kreativen Einreichungen auswählen zu müssen. Warum ist es Ihrer Ansicht nach wichtig, gerade Independent Games mehr Raum zu geben und zu fördern?

30 ----------------------------Oh, that is plausible. Sometimes we see people move and we look, but we aren‘t staring. The tingling is gone at least, for now. Let‘s try to read some more. --------------------------------*** THE END ***

4

Welche Fördermöglichkeiten bieten sich Independent Game Developern.

Just set our book down, and take a few sips. Taking in the world around us. It looks ok...we can‘t see everyone, but we do feel a little better. Let‘s close our eyes to be alone for a moment, then maybe we can read again. --------------------------------*** THE END ***

Ich finde das Nebeneinander spannend. Das Nebeneinander vieler Ideen. Für jeden Geschmack etwas. Grundsätzlich ist Wirtschaftlichkeit natürlich wichtig, aber daneben muss es auch die Möglichkeit geben, frei von den Erwartungen des Massenmarktes zu entwickeln. Independent Games Developer haben oft den Mut, auf Ideen zu setzen und diese auszuprobieren, lange bevor der Main Stream sie entdeckt. Sie sind also ein wichtiger Innovationsmotor der Branche und Inspirationsquelle. Oft werden aus diesen Ideen vielleicht auch nur Spartenprodukte, aber machen trotzdem eben in dieser Sparte Menschen glücklich. Alles ist möglich. Aber am Ende freuen sich alle, wenn man auf einen bunten Markt voller toller Games schaut, wo es auch noch Dinge zu entdecken gibt, als nur auf ein sehr homogenes Angebot, dass auf Masse zielt.

Impressum Publisher: A MAZE. GmbH What is important in playing games isn’t what it is, or how it works, it’s whether it can evoke anything from the player – a sense of wonder or victory, of empathy or joy. It is a medium, and like the type of paint in a painting is relevant to the artist, the connoisseur and the critic, it is utterly irrelevant to those who just love to gaze upon what the strokes mean to them. Far too often, we still try to talk to people outside of games as if they obviously should share our rich and varied culture, history and lexicon with us. It is up to us – as people that enjoy playing games, making games and critiquing games – to try to communicate about this crazy medium of ours with words that make sense to anyone. I always mention I made a game about fishing with machineguns, too. Might as well try to sell a copy of Ridiculous Fishing while I’ve got their attention.

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Contributors: Nina Freeman, David Calvo, Pippin Barr, Marius Winter, Heather Kelley, Sos O. Sosowski, Owl Turd, Olle Lundahl, Emilie Gervais, Raquel Meyers, Jamin Warren, Dennis Kogel, Jess Floyd, Jerry Belich, Oliver Eberlei, Lorenzo Pilia, Paolo Pedercini, Rami Ismail, Kelly Wallick, Christopher Floyd, Adriel Wallick, Martin Nerurkar, Robert Glashüttner, Stephan Schwingeler, Tale of Tales, Kozilek, Meneo, Bleepstreet, Eindbaas, David Hayward, Daniël Ernst, Ina Göring, Cay Kellinghausen Editor in chief: Thorsten S. Wiedemann Design: FUK Design Studio www.fuklab.org Support: Nike Wilhelms Sale: Johnny Säil Picture editing: Laura Byld Independence Amazing © A MAZE. GmbH E-Mail Redaktion: info@amaze-festival.de www.a-maze.net


Comic by Owl Turd (@shenanigansen)

31 ------------------------------We better go. Anything could happen now. They might try to speak to us and all we want is to read. ----------------------------------› Yeah, let‘s go home. (goto 17) -----------------------------------

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Wir fรถrdern Games. The German Games Capital Berlin

www.medienboard.de


A MAZE. Magazine No.0 - Edition: Independence Amazing