Indiecade is the annual expo devoted to independent video game designers, a low-key assemblage of up and comers who offer alternatives to the blockbuster titles of the current console generation. Indiecade was previously confined to California but this year marked the first time that it came to the East Cost, specifically to New York City’s Museum of the Moving Image.
The weekend-long event was a more low low-key version of the typical loud video game con. Cosplayers and booth babes weren’t around, and neither were blaring, flashing booths hawking their wares to everyone within earshot. A dozen or so selected designers were present to show off their games at small tables. These included tabletop games as well as video games demonstrating that independent gaming isn’t just about the digital variety (In fact board games and table-top RPG’s are enjoying a good deal of success on indie crowd-funding sites like kickstarter).
The showroom was definitely less aggressive about promoting games to passersby, and the event felt more like a networking opportunity for the community rather than a chance to market games to consumers.
Panels were held to discuss topics of interest to would-be game developers including one called “Making Playstation Games In Your Underwear”, but there were a few panels of interest to players, including a series called “Well-Played” in which short indie games like Thirty Flights of Loving were played live with the developer onstage and analyzed in the manner of a Director Commentary.
There was also a Game Jam where teams of indie developers made a frantic dash to create a game within a week, and the final products were unveiled over the course of the weekend. Many of the designers were working frantically in a room at the back of the venue, and attendees could observe the silent and still process of programming a game, if interested. For those who weren’t in the Game Jam, there was a Show & Tell opportunity for designers to present their work-in-progress, or game pitch to the crowd.
The event was held in Queens at the Museum Of The Moving Image which had some other attractions for those who were more interested in playing games than making them. Indiecade coincided with an exhibit called Spacewar! Video Games Blast Off. This exhibit featured a retrospective of fully functional (Playable) arcade machines dating back to the 1960’s.
Anyone who attended Indiecade East was allowed to explore the full museum and was issued a handful of tokens to play the arcade machines in the Spacewars Exhibit. For older gamers this was a flashback to their childhoods when spending 25 cents to play Defender for two minutes seemed like a good value. Modern consoles and games were also on display, including a massive screen covering one wall of the museum where attendees could play Portal.
Indiecade East was a one-weekend event, but hopefully it will return to the East Coast again next year. The Museum Of The Moving Image is open year-round and the Spacewars exhibit will run through March 3rd. The next West Coast Indiecade will be held this October.