Upcoming Events: Boston Festival of Indie Games 2013

If you’re looking for a new gaming convention to check out in the New England area, there’s a one-day gaming festival taking place in Boston, Massachusetts next month. On September 14th, the MIT campus will be hosting the Boston Festival of Indie Games 2013. The event is in its second year and will run from 10 am until 10 pm. The event features show floors for tabletop and digital games, a game jam that will go on for most of the day, an art exhibit, and screenings of feature films about gaming. There’s also an off campus concert in the evening running from 7pm – 11:30 pm titled Boston Plays Indies. The concert will feature music performances by Deadbeatblast, Darren Korb, Control Group, DJ Cutman, and Boston’s own Video Game Orchestra. The festival is free to attend, so if you are in the area on September 14th it will definitely be worth checking out. Tickets to the music concert Boston Plays Indies will require you to buy separate tickets and the concert venue requires you to be 18 or older.Boston Plays Indies

The primary focus of the festival is to promote the digital and tabletop games of independent game developers. Over 30 different developers will be at the show to feature their games, which you can play and help test out. The event also features guest speakers include Robin Hunicke, the executive producer of Journey, Chris Remo, a composer and writer currently working at Double Fine, and Brian O’Halloran, an actor/writer probably best known for his role as Dante Hicks in the movie Clerks.

It’s great to see more events taking place on the east coast, especially in the New England area. I’ll be heading to the festival myself and checking out everything on display, including the Boston Plays Indies concert in the evening. This will be my first time attending this particular convention. I’m not sure what to expect, but it looks like it will be a lot of fun. I’m especially looking forward to seeing groups like the Video Game Orchestra and Control Group perform. The last time that I checked, they are still looking for some volunteers to help them set up and run the festival. They’ll provide you with a t-shirt, food, drinks, and lunch for helping out. Be sure to check out their volunteer page if that sort of thing interests you. Again the main festival is free of charge, so give it a look if you plan on being in the area on September 14th. Hope to see you there.

Gam3rCon-Pilation Album 2013

I mentioned in a few of my previous posts that I was working on submitting a piece of music to be considered for part of a compilation album. There were a few guidelines for the piece. It had to be an original work made specifically for this collection, it had to be written with the idea in mind that you would hear this piece in a video game soundtrack, and it needed to meet some basic guidelines for audio quality. After sending out my track and waiting out the judging process, I am happy to report that my piece, Derelict Ship, was chosen to be included on the compilation album. This will officially be the first time that one of my pieces is getting mastered and released on an album.

The album, as you can probably guess from the title of this post, is the Gam3rCon-Pilation Album. The album is a concept that has been organized by the San Diego Gam3rCon and Slightly Ajar Treasure Chest (SATCh) and features original music from artists all around the world. The tracks are being mixed and mastered by Nate Herrera, aka N8bit, of the SATCh Team. Once finished, it will be uploaded to Soundcloud, Loudr, and Bandcamp on July 17th. It will be a pay what you want deal on Bandcamp and 10% of the proceeds will be going to the Child’s Play Charity. The main idea of the album is to help promote up and coming artists, such as myself, and of course raise a little money for charity. For those of you unfamiliar with the Child’s Play Charity, the group works with over 70 hospitals from around the world to provide toys, books, and games to sick children. These are often expenses that hospitals can’t fit into their own budgets. This helps provide valuable relief and distraction for children who are going through a tough and stressful experience.

If you happen to be going to the Gam3rCon this year, which runs from July 17th to the 21st, the SATCh Team will be there handing out some download codes for the album. I was offered a chance to attend the Gam3rCon out in San Diego this year. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to fly out from the state of Maine on such short notice and financially it just isn’t possible for me this year. If you are a gamer and are in the area, definitely check it out. The convention features tabletop games, tournaments, an arcade, game industry panels, and even an art exhibition. It looks like a lot of fun and I wish I could attend this year.

As of now, I haven’t heard the mastered version of my track or any of the tracks submitted by the other composers. I’m certainly looking forward to hearing the album in its entirety. From what I’ve glimpsed of the other composer’s profiles, it looks like we have a very diverse group of artists contributing to this compilation. When the Gam3rCon-Pilation launches on Wednesday, the 17th, I will be posting links to the sites where you can listen to and purchase the album. I will also be talking about my piece, and be providing some information on its origin and creation. It’s a great honor to have my piece chosen and I’m looking forward to seeing and listening to the finished product.

RocketHub project “Games for Good” looks to change the world’s perception of Video Games

Back in January, I wrote an article on the scapegoating of video games in the aftermath of the recent shooting tragedies in the United States. I focused mostly on defending the medium, pointing out the lack of evidence and logic that the other side had, and presented some data showing that games did not have the harmful effects that news media and politicians were claiming. During that part of the year, members of the games industry came out and made their arguments, refuted the claims on news outlets and talk shows, and met with members of congress and the White House. Even though there were plenty of people coming out in defense of the industry and it’s products, the entire set of events left me feeling uneasy and frustrated. Games survived this round, but I know that the instant that we are faced with another tragedy in this country the mindless finger-pointing will start again. There’s a whole range of issues and subjects to consider in that debate, but I’ll leave that discussion for another day. Today, I want to give some attention to a project that is looking to change how games are presented to the rest of society.Games for GoodJames Portnow, probably best known as the writer of the web show Extra Credits, has started a RocketHub for a project titledĀ Games for Good to help promote the positive effects that games have on our society. If funded, it will allow him to dedicate a full year to meet with law makers, work with game creators, and work with grant organizations to help fund games that have a positive impact. The idea is that rather than only coming to the defense games whenever they get blamed for issues, we should be promoting the positive elements regardless of whether they are being attacked or not. This is essentially a more proactive approach to the issue. From what he describes in the pitch video and in a recent episode of Extra Credits, many of the politicians in Washington are only familiar with video games in terms of action and First Person Shooter stereotypes. Games have been suffering from a lack of positive representation and a lack of understanding by people who do not have a lot of experience with games. Part of this will involve James Portnow lobbying in the Washington area, but he’s also looking to help make it easier for positive game projects to get the funding they need. Hence the talks with grant organizations and the game developers that could use the money.

From what I’ve observed at his appearances at PAX and MAGFest, Portnow is a great spokesman for games as an art form. At last year’s MAGFest he and Dan Floyd spent 4 hours answering questions from people about working in the industry, about game creation, and the industry’s future. It was a very informative and interesting experience that left me very impressed with their knowledge and expertise in the field. If this project were to take off, I have no doubt that Portnow would do well as an ambassador for these games that are creating a positive change and for the industry in general.

I think this is an important project that games as a medium need. It’s great that we have groups that already go out to defend games when they come under attack, but I agree with Portnow that more needs to be done. The narrative needs to stop being about us explaining why games aren’t “murder simulators” and more about what they do for us as a society. This project can help show others, especially our law makers, the merits of games and help developers find the means to create more of these positive experiences. Please take time to check out the RocketHub and the Extra Credits episode discussing the project. You’ll find much more information about what I’ve summarized on this post. Perhaps just as important, I would encourage you spread the word about this project. I haven’t seen to many people mentioning this RocketHub on gaming sites or forums. The project is siting at 80% funding at the time of writing. I really hope this gets funded. This type of discussion about games is something that I think really needs to happen.