IndieCade was a great experience for realizing the potentials of game dynamics. This year’s award went to Unmanned, a poetic narrative game about the complex experience and ethics of being a US military drone pilot. The fact that such a politically conscious game won the highest award proves the festival can still remain progressive despite the heavy influence of corporate sponsorship. USC’s own Reality Ends Here, which was designed by Jeff Watson, Simon Wiscombe, and Tracy Fullerton, won the “Impact Award”. The game is a large scale card-based game that sparks massive collaborative media projects in a class (like 501) for incoming SCA undergraduates.
Renga was definitely one of the highlights of the night games, as a hundred players all used laser pointers to collectively construct space ships in a large-scale strategy game. The festival was an excellent opportunity not just for experiencing independent/experimental games but also meeting the developers behind them. I think it was especially rewarding for all those students that volunteered and were able to build really important relationships with the “avant-garde” of the game community. It’ll be interesting to see how the festival grows in the upcoming years as “play” and “gamification” become increasingly important in both the academic and public realm.