The Return of IndieCade; Year two

Volunteers bringing in PCs and Monitors getting ready for the 2019 IndieCade held at the Center for Media and Design campus of Santa Monica College. In Santa Monica,California. Oct. 8, 2019

Volunteers bringing in PCs and Monitors getting ready for the 2019 IndieCade held at the Center for Media and Design campus of Santa Monica College. In Santa Monica,California. Oct. 8, 2019

IndieCade, an independent video game festival, comes to SMC's CMD for the second year in a row.

IndieCade Festival, an event showcasing independent games and their creators, will be occupying Santa Monica College’s (SMC) Center for Media and Design (CMD) for the second year in a row, from Oct. 10 to Oct. 12.

Originating as an offshoot of Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in 2005, IndieCade’s longest running venue was downtown Culver City. When development took off in the area, however, IndieCade was relocated to University of Southern California and then to Little Tokyo.

A critical coordinator between IndieCade and SMC is David Javelosa, professor of Interactive Media. A proponent of SMC’s game development program and a longtime participant as an IndieCade juror and entertainer, Javelosa was involved in discussions of CMD as a possible venue for IndieCade in 2017.

“The first concern was space, but the festival planners were already considering making it smaller,” said Javelosa. “[CMD] gave them a good rationale for shrinking down the festival itself. There’s actually room to expand.” 

According to Javelosa, logistical challenges for the conference, such as a lack of nearby hotels and restaurants, were easily offset by the CMD’s proximity to the LA Metro and an abundance of food trucks. 

“The city of Santa Monica has also been very supportive,” said Stephanie Barish, CEO of IndieCade. “They’ve wanted us to come there for a while, but it was hard to find a location that was big enough. We were all really happy with the results last year, and hope that it can become a long-term partnership.”

The types of gameplay that will be featured range from physical cards to animated universes. According to the IndieCade submission page, “all creators of interactive media are welcome to apply for inclusion at our events, regardless of experience, style, or background.” 

The festival’s awards ceremony will give recognition to outstanding games in a number of categories, including narrative design, performance, and adaptation. Awards will also be presented to creators and companies from a variety of categories. For instance, the game Changer Award will be given to individuals who cause a significant, positive change in the gaming world. 

Among this year’s nominated games are Queering Spacetime, a roleplaying card game about queer dating, as well as NEScape!, an escape room style game compatible with Nintendo’s original NES system.

Media professor and creator of SMC’s ‘Introduction to Game Studies’ class, Dr. Julia Raz, describes IndieCade as the “Sundance of video games."

“It was a great networking opportunity, and so fun to play test a bunch of indie titles,” said Raz of IndieCade Festival 2018. “Any SMC students who are interested in going into a media industry, and the video game industry, in particular, should definitely check out this event.” 

Like last year’s iteration, IndieCade Festival 2019 will host programs ranging from "gametasting," an opportunity to test and review unreleased games, to IndieXchange, a summit for developers submitting to the festival that includes workshops, panels, and networking opportunities. 

The festival will also feature games created by SMC students, which will be available to test in CMD's first floor computer lab. A screening of "In Bright Axiom" by Spencer McCall, a documentary-style film about a game that touches on ideas of reality and religion, will take place on Oct. 11 from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. 

Five tiers of tickets are available on the IndieCade website, from $15 tickets to Saturday evening’s “Night Games à la Carte”, which includes three-and-a-half hours of gameplay, to the $675.00 “Industry/VIP” pass, which includes complete access to all the resources offered before and at the event. SMC students can purchase tickets at a discounted rate.

“[Students] don’t have to go to E3 or GDC, it all happens here,” said Javelosa. “For my money, IndieCade has always been my favorite game event. It reminds me of game development conferences twenty, thirty years ago, when game development was still a niche industry."