FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
29 November 2006
Slamdance, an organization always looking to foster new and innovative ways to assist emerging artists and writers, has established the Slamdance Guerilla Gamemaker Competition. This contest is a natural extension of Slamdance's stated mission to nurture, support and showcase truly independent works and will be held concurrently with the Slamdance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, January 18-27, 2007.
A gaming competition at a film festival? It makes more sense than a first glance might indicate. Gaming is one of - if not the - fastest-growing components of the entertainment industry. Like filmmaking, game design is a means of visual storytelling, and the similarities between the two media far outweigh the disparities. Like a film director working on-set, today's gamemakers assumes a leadership role in the outcome of the game, guiding plot points and character interaction, integrating art and technology with game design. Recognizing that the space between film and gaming was becoming increasingly smaller, and seeing a niche for it within their festival, Slamdance developed the Game Competition to help aspiring game developers display their work.
"Video games today are as important and influential as movies have ever been," said Peter Baxter, the President and Co-Founder of Slamdance, who is a filmmaker as well. "The type and standard of creativity we are seeing at Slamdance Games is akin to the trail blazing days of independent filmmaking, a time that artists reacted with more imagination and against the generic fare of the movie studio."
Game Design is a quickly growing field. Every year, more universities offer game design programs for graduates and undergraduates, more design theory is published, and more pointed critiques are leveled at games released into the market. With the next generation of consoles having built in digital distribution systems, the advent of independent game portals like Manifesto Games, and the growth of digital distribution technology, the independent game designer has more opportunities and methods to reach the marketplace. The Guerilla Gamemaker Competition is a competition for these game designers - it is focused on creative professionals who design and create entertainment experiences. These games will screen in competition as part of the Slamdance Film Festival, just as Slamdance films do
Slamdance recognized the need for a gaming competition with integrity that concentrated on the art of game design, versus the bottom line of the business itself. The Competition supports developers by helping them make industry connections, providing them with an environment for peer interaction and presenting them with an opportunity for national exposure while they're at the Festival. "We are very excited about the finalists for this year's GGC," said Sam Roberts, Slamdance's Games Competition Manager. "This year's entrants range from biting indictments of modern corporate culture to fantastical adventures crashing castles. We have interactive fiction, beat-em-ups, non-traditional puzzle games, and experiments in flow theory. These games push the edges of what games can be and can try to be, experimenting in art style, gameplay, metaphor, story, concept and time. They provide challenges and inspiration for game designers working the traditional space, and game designers who will work in the future. While each of these games forces you to examine something you thought you already knew, or experiment in life and evolution, they also all entertain - they strive to be fun, and to be true play experiences."
There are multiple prizes that may be won. Winners of the Game Competition Grand Jury Award receive over $5,000 in cash and prizes, a not un-auspicious start for a game designer. The Jury is comprised of game industry professionals and luminaries, who screen all of the games at the Festival and choose a winner. There's also an Audience Award. At each screening, the audience in attendance will place votes on the game they see - just as it's done with film screenings. The Student Competition, which recognizes excellence in art and technical design, includes a summer fellowship with the University of Southern California¹s Game Innovation Lab in the Interactive Media Division.
For the 2007 Slamdance Guerilla Gamemaker Competition, 14 independently designed video game finalists have been selected. Designed by artists, students and programmers from around the world, these games cover a wide variety of genres, from documentary to platform puzzler:
Base Invaders by Seven Sigma/Matt Miner. USA.Base Invaders is a cartoony action-oriented strategy game that pits the crafty, trap-utilizing player against hordes of dim-witted invaders bent on destroying his Tower. Players grab and toss invaders, utilize over a dozen physics-based traps, and complete missions while fighting a colorful cast of aggressive invaders.
The Blob by Banana Games/Jasper Koning. The Netherlands.The Blob is a ball of paint. He absorbs colors and uses these to color the Dutch city of Utrecht. This involves rolling around, absorbing paint characters and solving small puzzles. While rolling around, the player sees what the station area of Utrecht will look like after it has been rebuilt during the coming ten years.
Book and Volume by Nick Monfort. USA.In Book and Volume, a system administrator wakes to mission-critical action items. This interactive fiction's innovative, elegant user interface consists almost entirely of the English language -- plus a few made-up words. Book and Volume invites both grizzled text adventurers and the uninitiated to explore the information-age factory town nTopia, figuring out the nWare corporation's thickening plot.
Braid by Number None/Jonathan Blow. USA.A platformer where the player manipulates the flow of time. This is a one person game with contract artists where gameplay is a metaphor.
Castle Crashers by The Behemoth/John Baez. USA.Players hack, smash and slash their way to victory as one of four knights on a quest to recover a lost idol for your king! Castle Crashers is being released on Xbox 360 Live Arcade.
Cultivation by Jason Rohrer. USA.Cultivation explores the social interactions within a gardening community. A player leads one family of gardeners, starting with a single individual, and wise choices can keep your genetic line from extinction. While breeding plants, eating, and mating, your actions impact your neighbors, and the social balance sways between conflict and compromise.
Everyday Shooter by Queasy Games/Jonathan Mak. USA.Everyday Shooter is an album of games exploring the expressive power of abstract shooters. Dissolute sounds of destruction are replaced with guitar riffs harmonizing over an all-guitar soundtrack, while modulating shapes celebrate the flowing beauty of geometry.
flOw by flow/Jenova Chen. USA.This is a student game about piloting an aquatic organism through a surreal biosphere where players consume other organisms, evolve, and advance their organisms to the abyss.
Once Upon a Time by Waking Games Inc./Justin Meagher. Canada.A vicious Wolf, a greasy Prince and a wicked Queen are hunting for the same Princess, but she's not going quietly. Hone your character's unique skills and join up to three friends online in heated competition as you play as either one of the three villainous characters battling for your prize or the Princess herself, using her spells to foil their plans and escape.
Plasma Pong by Steve Taylor. USA.Plasma Pong is a variation of Pong that utilizes fluid dynamics to drive the game environment. In the game, you can inject fluid into the environment, create a vacuum from your paddle and blast shockwaves into the playing area. All these abilities have fluid-based kinetic effects on the ball, making Plasma Pong a fast-paced and exciting game.
Steam Brigade by Pedestrian Entertainment/Ryan Thom. USA.Travel back to an alternate history where graceful airships rule the skies and steam-powered tanks wage war on the ground. Build an army, capture bunkers, defeat turrets and use your airship to carry your troops behind enemy lines. Steam Brigade is a unique blend of addictive gameplay, beautiful artwork, and quirky storytelling, really satisfies!
Super Columbine Massacre RPG! by Danny Ledonne. USA.This game delves into the morning of April 20th, 1999 and asks players to relive that day through the eyes of Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, those responsible for the deadliest school shooting in American history. Using a basic role-playing game (RPG) interface, this game explores the thoughts and actions of two teens bent on blowing it all up.
Toblo by Toblo/Steve Chiavelli. USA.Toblo is a fast-paced capture-the-flag game set in an entirely destructible world made of blocks.
Toribash by Toribash/Hampus Soderstrom. Singapore.Toribash is a turn-based fighting game. Create your own martial arts movies in single player mode, or join the competition in the multiplayer modes.
Started in 1995 by a group of filmmakers, Slamdance continues to be organized and programmed exclusively by filmmakers, for filmmakers, one of many elements that make Slamdance a pioneering standout among its festival counterparts. Slamdance lacks much of the red tape and bureaucracy that can convolute the process that filmmakers come to festivals for in the first place - a chance to show their work. At Slamdance, the link between filmmaker and festival - and, subsequently, filmmaker and industry - is a direct and cohesive one. Slamdance alumni are recruited to serve as programmers, so first-timers are represented and assisted by Slamdance veterans. The mantra of "by filmmakers, for filmmakers" resounds at every level of the organization, and plays
a part in all of its undertakings. It's what put Slamdance on the festival map to begin with, and what's made it the viable, big-time contender it is today.
With the renowned film festival as its core, Slamdance has expanded its ventures to include the popular Slamdance.com website, writing competitions for both screenplays and teleplays, the Anarchy Online Short Film Competition, a $99 Special short
film production project, a games competition and the newly announced Slamdance Horror Screenplay Competition, where an annual chosen script is guaranteed to be produced as a feature film.
The Slamdance Guerilla Gamemaker Competition will be headquartered and exhibited at the Treasure Mountain Inn (255 Main Street), January 18-27, 2007, in Park City, Utah as part of the Slamdance Film Festival. www.Slamdance.com
Steven Zeller, Susan Steeno, Nubia Flores
GS Entertainment Marketing Group