A Brilliant Future for Independent Video Games

Braid, World of Goo , Castle Crashers…and other unique and innovating games, were endorsed in preceding Independent Games Festivals before their introduction to the public. Last year it was the Blueberry Garden tale which won the grand prize. The twelfth edition of the festival took place March 12th in San Francisco. Did the jury once again honor the “Sundance of video games”?

The very victorious Monaco flight simulation game… tinted by irony, the four player game won both the grand prize and one for design excellence.

Inspired by French hold-up movies, Monaco borrows elements evocative of Gauntlet in its game technique. The game was developed by Pocketwatch Games, established in 2004, and directed by Andy Schatz, a former employee of multinationals in the entertainment industry. In 2005, its game Wildlife Tycoon : Venture Africa was already nominated at the Independent Games Festival.

The jury of 170 industry representatives had to sort through more than 300 games for the principal competition (650 in all), and singled out the game Limbo, narrating in black and white a child’s quest for his sister, blending phases of enigma and action. This game, distributed on the Xbox Live Arcade since last summer, received an award for its graphics and another for technical excellence.

Closure, a platform game which takes place in darkness was selected by the jury for its sound effects, the puzzle game Tuning won an award for its hypnotic game play.

For the new mobile phone games category, Spider: The Secret of Bryce Manor, where players become spiders on Apple terminals, was chosen.

Unfortunately, promising games like Trauma, a genuine nightmare stimulator, or the poetic Today I die, were not selected.

But with many highly innovative projects presented by students from the world over, the next generation is sure to be promising. In this category, the competition was won by the Swedish designers of Continuity, a very successful infinite puzzle game.  Other innovative games such as Ulitsa Dimitrova, which tells the story of a child in Saint Petersburg, or Puddle, a game on fluid mechanics produced by students from l’Enjmin in Angloueme, were among the ten finalists.

Le Monde online, March 15, 2010.

Laurent Checola, original author translated from “L’avenir radieux du jeu vidéo independent