LA Game Space Will Give You 30 Awesome Games If You Back Them Up
As the world of gaming charges forward, we’re treated to titles every year that defy all previous boundaries of graphics and gameplay. But there’s no reason why the big dogs should have all the influence. As game-making technology gets more advanced and more accessible, more and more independent game creators are emerging, folks who choose unconventional creativity over mass appeal. To push forward the discipline of innovative games, taking cues from classics of the past and using modern tools, LA Game Space is a potential venue that will serve as a meeting point between game designers, game enthusiasts, and curious folks who want to get into the discipline.
Conceived by Adam Robezzoli and Daniel Rehn, LA Game Space combines artists residencies, exhibition spaces, research labs, and educational events in one gaming-focused space. Right now they’re seeking funding through Kickstarter, and thus far their supporters have been coming through pretty strong, either because they love the idea or because they are offering some really dope rewards packages even for the lower end of contributions. The highlight of the rewards has got to the the package of 30 games by totally sick designers.
Click here to pledge.
We spoke with Daniel Rehn to find out more about the project and the crazy gamepack you stand to gain for contributing.
So you’ve been working on this idea for three years. How did it all start?
It all started when Adam [Robezzoli] reached out to Daniel [Rehn] about his game-related projects. At the time, [Rehn] and LA/GS advisor Jeremy Douglass were co-directors of the Re:Game Lab as well as Playpower, an open-source community to design and distribute learning games for the widely available 8-bit “Famiclones” in India, Brazil, and other developing regions.
Not long after, [Robezzoli] and [Rehn] co-produced Data Beez, a micro-music tour on the West coast. It was during our first in-person meeting (at the LA tour stop) that we conceived of an all-inclusive, nonprofit center for video games that would offer community design and outreach programs, and public access to frequent exhibitions, talks, and workshops—a place for pushing the boundaries of video games.
Rehn meets Robezzoli.
What void in the gaming universe will the work at LA/GS address?
It isn’t so much what is missing from gaming, as what already exists that LA Game Space will bring together and connect. LA/GS is a space where we can pull in people from many corners of our rapidly expanding gaming universe and put them into conversation with each other. What do game industry, arts, history, scholarship, and more have to say to each other? And what do total outsiders have to add to the conversation? Are there things that “everyone” is missing? Games have the power to expand in so many different directions, and we really have no idea what lies beyond our current horizons.
Sounds like the creations at LA/GS are going to defy convention. Are there any games in existence, new or old, that are a benchmark for the kind of innovation you hope to achieve?
There definitely are! As we allude to in the game slideshow featured in our Kickstarter video, creativity and experimentation have always existed in game design. One of our first exhibitions will be a retrospective of convention-defying video games (1975–2005). Some of these, like Another World (1992), were wildly popular and have been continuously available for new platforms, while others, like LSD: Dream Emulator (1998) can seem downright obscure. However all of them challenged our ideas about what games could be and do.
An interesting contrast is the “Art of Video Games” exhibition at the Smithsonian. They curated an amazing collection that traces the evolution of video game forms through eighty examples, and the public helped vote online to choose those significant works — from Pac-Man and Super Mario World through Halo 2 and Bioshock. But as we retrace that evolutionary tree, we can also find many branches that were abandoned, and each of those lost pasts suggests interesting possibilities for the future of games. Recently, there has been an explosion in new devices, new modes of development and distribution, and new game genres that make us ask not just what is marketable, but what is possible.
The participants in our game pack represent a sampling of the incredible diversity we see from game creators working today.
Who are some of the game makers and artists you’d ideally like to bring to LA/GS once it’s up and running?
Toshio Iwai is a great, early example of the type of cross-disciplinary creator who we’d like to bring to the LA/GS residency. In 1985, he simultaneously held award-winning new media installations (Time Stratum I/II) while also designing his first video game (Otocky, a musical shoot ‘em up). He continued this trend throughout his career as a resident of ZKM, the Exploratorium, and others while also releasing SimTunes (1996), Electroplankton (2005), and eventually the Tenori-On musical instrument (2007).
A contemporary example which springs to mind is Keita Takahashi (of Katamari Damacy fame)—coming from his background as a sculptor, his fresh ideas were a welcome shift in game design. His response when we invited him to be involved with our project really says it all: “Your project is totally the same with what I want to realize!!!!!!!! I’m very happy to join it!!!!”
On the other hand, just as there are many talented people who would love to participate in game creation, but haven’t yet, there are many game designers who would love to team up on an experiment with a filmmaker, musician, or other creative collaborator who has inspired them.
What’s some of the high-tech equipment that will be available to residents in the Research Labs component of LA/GS?
The “video game experience recording unit” will be the first piece of high-tech equipment within the Research Labs. Since video games are an active medium, it is not enough to archive the games themselves. We will be recording video game playthroughs, along with useful metadata such as button presses, eye-tracking, and pulse-rate—and then archiving this data online for anyone to access. Supporters of our project can feel good about contributing to the public record of games and gameplay, and increasing our knowledge about games for the benefit of everyone.
It’s also worth mentioning that the research labs will be open to proposals from outside the residency. Potential projects range from ethnographic gameplay research to prototyping experimental game controllers.
Can you give us a few highlights from the 30 game package that you’re offering as a reward? Anything particularly addictive?
Highlights of games which are far enough along to mention include Inputting by Steve Swink, a game that challenges the player by re-assigning the input devices (ex: keyboard keys, mouse clicks) required to complete each new level. Meanwhile, Jake Elliott and Jon Cates are collaborating on a highly experimental engine that generates games from the file hierarchy and content of a folder on your hard drive. Angie Wang, a comics creator, is creating a surreal horror game based on multiple false awakenings. It will function as an interactive fiction game that utilizes her beautiful, visceral illustrations to take you to another world.
Illustration by Angie Wang.
Everyone in the pack is approaching game-making from a unique perspective. Whether serial game creators (i.e. Cactus, Mark Essen, Beau Blyth) or creating their first video game—as is the case with Adventure Time creator, Pen Ward, who is collaborating with QWOP game designer Bennett Foddy—the games in the pack will be incredibly interesting.
LA Death Disk by Beau-Blyth.