Thursday, 3 November 2011
Game City 6
Over 4 days, the festival is the self styled “biggest and best-loved videogame culture festival in Europe!” and runs over multiple sites in the East Midlands city of Nottingham, during the day time, the night time and inbetween time (with the wonderful addition of Covernomics - a real life, real surveillance, covert mission piece of spy heaven). I wanted to share some of my experiences, some of the panels and debates attended, the people and developers I met and let this act as a guide to my experiences.
My first stop was a conversation between Richard Lemarchand, lead game designer on the forthcoming triple AAA PS3 exclusive, Uncharted 3 and Tale of Tales' founders Auriea Harvey and Michaël Samyn.
Auriea and Michaël were fascinating, charming and achingly articulate throughout and with their creations offer a genuine alternative to the big time computer game behemoths which I’d heartily recommend that you engage with. Head over to Tale of Tales to find out more.
The next day was all about the Zombies, one of the large successes of Game City 6 and previous incarnations is that they often theme days and today was all about those beloved half –dead henry’s.
Richard offered us “games elicit certain kinds of emotions, competitive games elicit triumph, success and frustration”, and Phil replied with “Silent Hill 1&2 are the finest piece of horror on any media and we worked with fear specialists who said turning left down corridors is scary and different ceiling heights in different rooms is also scary”. The next topic was sadness with the videogame Heavy Rain appearing heavily and Keith cited the greatest fear if you’re a parent is the loss of your child and that was why Heavy Rain was so successful, Simon replied us “games are great at revenge stories, but not redemption”. Finally the 7 men on the panel spoke about love with The Sims and Ico leading the discussion. Simon “The Sims tries to mechanise love in a dry way, it’s an economy. Whereas in Ico, you have to lead this small waif through different lands and you have to look after her or she’ll be sacrificed.” Keith shared: “if you come to a standstill after you’ve run around with her, you can feel her heartbeat through the controller”. The debates were genuinely interesting, covered a range of topics and brought us insight from a diversity of panellists who wouldn’t normally talk about these sorts of things.
SATAT 1984 was a seven hour performance lecture all about the mid 80s tetronomic gaming masterpiece Tetris. However, this lecture by Pat Ashe lasted as long as you stayed alive in the game and the blocks didn’t fill the screen. A brilliant concept, fascinating factoids learnt and a charming performer. PS I’m sure I also got the highest score of the day. From Russia With Fun!
Covernomics was another durational experience but this time over 4 days. Through email, phone calls and illegal rendezvous it instructed you to go undercover, decipher codes, assemble electronic devices, accrue assets and survey other agents in the field whilst avoiding detection. Agents were assigned daily tasks (I’m not revealing too much detail as they want to return next year) and I’m pleased to report that I completed Operation GC6 and was one of the top ten of agents.
For me, Game City 6 captured the true spirit of a festival with oodles of positivity oozing from the staff, volunteer teams and exhibitors which in turn infected us, the participants to be generous, encouraging and enter into the essence of debate and inquiry which the festival fostered so well. I only encountered a small percentage of the festival, but what I experience I was left sated and elated and will no doubt return to future iterations of the wonderful and valuable experience that is Game City.
Images courtesy of Game City, Tale of Tales, Nintendo, Six to Start