Drowning in Art: A Misstep for IndieCade

by | Oct 9, 2017 | Indie, News

Drowning in Art: A Misstep for IndieCade

by | Oct 9, 2017 | Indie, News |

Another IndieCade is in the books. The annual celebration of indie games took place in Los Angeles’ Little Tokyo this year and featured over 200 titles on display over the three days.

This was my third year covering the conference and it’s changed a lot since 2015. That first year PlayStation and Nintendo each had large tents with some of their favorite indie titles on display. Festival-goers got a chance to play Shovel Knight and other top-notch indie titles. Nintendo gave away cool swag and there were big name sponsors all around.

This year was a much different experience. Neither Nintendo nor Sony had booths, the venues were nice but had a tendency to feel cramped and the games were different.

In previous years, there was a fairly even dispersion of genres and sub-genres. You had platformers and arts types, VR and text adventures, even educational and tabletops. This year it felt as if there was a particularly strong emphasis on art and statement games. Not art as in a beautiful visual design like Oxenfree, Journey, or Limbo, but art and statement games as in those whose status as a video game could be debated. Games whose main purpose is to be a statement or an art piece, not so much a game.

It’s not that these games don’t have their place in the indie gaming community, but their strong presence at this year’s IndieCade felt rather overwhelming. There were so many of these types of titles that it felt as if they were drowning out everything around them. Not to mention, a festival setting is often not the ideal place for such games.

Art and statement games are often better received when you can play them alone and dedicate a chunk of time to appreciating the nuances and story.

The way gaming festivals and conventions work is that you usually get a few minutes to play a small portion of a game before handing it off to whomever is next in line and this is great way to introduce most games. We played a moba-esque cat game, a couple rhythm games, a VR cat game, some tabletop games and more, all of which could be appreciated in the small, distraction-filled amount of time we had. But art and statement games just aren’t the same.

In past years, the presence of a Nintendo or Sony booth helped open up the festival and give it a more well-rounded feel. There was a wider selection of games and something for just about everyone to enjoy. The art and statement games were fewer, but they felt as if they were of a better quality. That, or the better mix of games meant the art and statement games felt less overwhelming and more nuanced.

All that said, this year’s IndieCade was still enjoyable. It’s just that it was a different kind of festival than in the past. One marked less by general indie games and more by indie art culture. Would we go back next year if it were the same exact thing? Definitely. Do I hope that next year they bring back a wider range of games? Absolutely.

 

This isn’t the end of our IndieCade coverage. Stay tuned for a recap of some our favorite games, including Cat Sorter VR and a BioShock-esque horror title from Turkey.

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Don’t forget to check out some of our other weekly pieces, The LoL Weekly Preview, Recap and Highlight, as well as Something I’m Forgetting and Week in Review.

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