Magazine article Filmmaker

Poetry in Pixels

Magazine article Filmmaker

Poetry in Pixels

Article excerpt

This fall the New York Times Magazine ran an article on the birth of an indie games movement. For the Times, that's not so bad; maybe three years too late? True, if you're a hardcore indie gamer, you've probably been passing around games on disks for many years and laughing at how behind I am, so I shouldn't be too snotty toward the poor old Times.

Seriously, though, the thing that irked me about the Times piece was the people it chose to highlight. It was all folks readers of this column have heard about before - Jonathan Blow, Kellee Santiago and Jenova Chen, Eric Zimmerman - and none of the newer rising stars on the scene. But then maybe I was lucky. While the Times was putting its story to bed, I was in Los Angeles at IndieCade, meeting these people myself.

I've been hearing about IndieCade for a long time. It's the brainchild of Celia Pearce, a professor at Georgia Tech and a game-design veteran, and Stephanie Barish, who comes from the non-profit art world. I've watched these women hustle to create an indie games festival for years and it was incredibly impressive to see the thing actually come to fruition. Last year, it was in Seattle and the year before that it was part of E3, the commercial industry's trade show, but this year, it finally found a home in Culver City. Enthusiasm was high, the games shown were strong, and I had that feeling of being part of something that one day I'd look back on and know I'd been a part of something. The indie game movement has really solidified into a serious, international community of designers, thinkers and supporters. It feels vital, creative and on the rise. (Hell, even the Times has taken notice.)

One of the people I was most excited to meet was Daniel Benmergui, a young designer from Buenos Aires, Argentina, who's been getting a lot of buzz in indie game circles lately for a trio of games: I Wish I Were the Moon, inspired by a Calvino short story; Today I Die, about depression; and Storyteller, about the way choices affect the future. The games were grouped together, Benmergui told me, not by theme but because of the way they were made: "They were made based on how I was feeling about something at the time," Benmergui said. …

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