So, I was originally going to write this article with an optimism befitting great discovery, but since then I have realized how much my findings are a poor alternative to getting help or perhaps even detrimental. I even removed an exclamation mark from the title. I guess it didn’t help that I just got done reading the work of Sigmund Freud and Lacan. My idea was that playing a horror game, that is scary enough to abide by whatever your tolerance of horror is, will act as a fixer-upper for when your mood is blue, not conventionally; the jolt of being scared can make you feel better. There were some good arguments behind this, don’t get me wrong, but looking back this is a poor means of dealing with feeling depressed.
My original wording reads:
“...puts you in a different mood, the first level of how horror games help you deal with being depressed (that is just the feeling of being depressed) is that you are putting yourself in an environment where you are focused on one thing, a new thing, that is whatever the goal of the horror game may be; [if it’s a good horror game] this will take your mind off of the depression temporarily. When I have to try and survive in a world that has been purposefully constructed to be unsettling and eerie, the last thing I think about is the real world depression that moments before was all that I could think about.”
Right, for me this came to be when a bad day of work or a miserable weekend were counteracted by playing games like Lone Survivor, Silent Hill or most recently Outlast and quickly I felt better because of how scared I was getting. All of those are 10s on my scare-o-meter because I’m a horror game wuss, by the way. That’s great, it really does work but the problem is that the effects are undoubtedly temporary. Just like any other way people commonly use to run away from facing their problems, the problem doesn’t actually go away. So you will feel bad again the next time it resurfaces in your life. And from what I’ve found, you might feel worse next time. Even to the point of feeling sick from doing so.
Still, the fact still stands that the momentary shock of a jump scare or the unsettling-ness that comes from a long walk down a dark hall will change your mood. I was also going to liken this to the mentality of dogs [yeah dogs] straight from the "Dog Whisperer". In an episode I can’t recall, Cesar explains that when a dog is misbehaving, that is growling unprovoked or what have you, the brain is trapped in that mental state of frustration, anger, attack-mode and the dog has to be “snapped out” of it. This is when Cesar pinches them and says “hey”, according to him, bringing the brain back out of that undesirable state. Good dog.
Well for chase-savvy inmate's sake, why am I talking about that? Let me ask you then, that’s just like the horror-depression thing, isn’t it? Boom, answered a question with a question! Feeling depressed has your mind in an undesirable state, then an external player, horror game mechanics, enters to “pinch” you out of that state. Now consider then also another example from television. This late night doc was explaining how the mind works in the absolute most severe cases of depression and how it’s treated. The mind becomes 100% unattached from and disinterested in reality, with serious consequences. So professional science employs Electroshock therapy, inducing a seizure, to get the brain back up. The waves of electricity sent directly to the brain (not lethal levels) will fix a person with depression, at least in mood, but that is a terrible situation to find oneself in, to have to induce something that is otherwise considered a condition or bad for ones health. That is an extreme version of our dog example, but I feel they’re similar enough.
And so at the very least, I would like to think this. If a very important gentleman or gentlewoman is five minutes from giving a speech to 100,000 individuals, that has to be uplifting and optimistic and make them feel comfortable in an otherwise bleak turn of events or unruly chaos But the speaker in question is feeling down him/herself, a portable device, loaded with horror game of choice, should be able to get them and the show back on the road. 1 time use, it’ll work and that’s awesome as a quick, if temporary fix. Otherwise its probably the worst thing you can do. As I've learned.Deal with problems first. Then go play some great horror games! -cough- like the ones mentioned -cough-
I just want to do a quick update regarding something special which occurred to me yesterday. I will be putting out a blog teased about depression and one about traveling, again, soon.
But right now, I am doing extensive work with a particular conference, of which I will not mention right off the bat for reasons. Namely, it will make this post sound like spam. The event is, like several other varieties of cons getting bigger and it is a PoliticallyOrientedGathering. AKA, not video game related. It will be taking place this summer in New York City. I don't think it's too relevant to what I'm asking of you in this post, but it is a gathering of Left and Progressive political figures and organizations.
That being said, I have decided to propose a panel that would be related to VIDEOGAMES! It would have to be related to revolution or change, the theme of the conference, so our topic would be limited already. And I just want to say ahead of time, we will probably be talking to people who don't know much about gaming, expect a sophisticated presentation of the issues and we would be talking about negative things regarding video games, though that doesn't mean the panel can't be optimistic!
Some ideas to mold the panel: Informing the Left of Challenges and Corruption in the Video Game Industry.How Can We Change The Video Game Industry.Aspects of or Practices Within The Industry That Are Not Standardized/Go Unchecked.Consumer Power: The Struggle of the Consumer.New Conflicts that Come From a Rapidly Expanding Industry. Business vs Craft
So if anyone is interested, PM me ASAP. I am looking for serious and motivated individuals who don't want to pass up the opportunity to break down the industry that we know all about to a potentially new audience that will likely take an interest in something unfamiliar to them if we present it well. We will also discuss how to market this panel, specific topics, etc. later. Speakers get either discounted registration, or even free. I need to double check that, in addition to other discounted payment options, such as registering as a student.
Some of you may have read, but I went to an indie games convention that I had just found out about (thanks to Dtoid) just weeks ago. And let me tell you, as a dude that goes to a lot of events, it was [s]good[/s] perfect.
And as a disclaimer, I will be writing about everything key that went down, the whole shebang from when I got there to closing time. This will be a long blog so I apologize ahead of time. tl;dr available
So the Museum of the Moving Image in Queens. NY is actually kind of small and seems like a strange place for a con, but they found an orientation that made it work quite well actually.
First floor was dedicated to food (day)/partying (later), a “show and tell” area that has developers & their games swapping out demo space throughout the duration of the event, two theaters for panels and one more area that was a combination exhibitor space and panel area. I particularly liked the design of the last mentioned because the panel space was not closed off (ie. in a room) so in theory you could be chilling in the exhibition space, playing games and talking with industry people, while listening to the panel that is happening at the same time ten feet that way.
The Second floor was condensed to just one area for gameplay with an audience, this generally meant e-sports. When I first got there, I thought that they were hosting a Samurai Gunn tournament but it was actually a free to play game called Foiled, which looked fun as well. They also had an RPG multiplayer game that is played on dance pad controllers. More on e-sports later.
Finally, on the third floor is where the advertised 25 games that made it to the show as best in show were to be found. You can find the full list on the event website but they were arranged with plenty of space between them and the whole area had a dark but relaxed tone going on. Some of the games included Killer Queen Arcade, Kentucky Route Zero and Spelunky.
Speaking of Spelunky…
Going into this unfamiliar event, I really just had one activity I was guaranteed to enjoy. And in the worst case scenario I would just fall back to this for the rest of the show. I am talking of course about Spelunky. I’ve written about how much I enjoy Spelunky, well it was decided last minute that the best way to insert an exclamation mark on my first trip to IndieCade would be to play Spelunky and beat it all the way through. I did just that. The picture that should've been in this blog, of the screen, failed because the results screen just faded to black as my phone’s junky camera decided it was a good time to take the blasted picture. It should read that the clear time was approximately 29 minutes and change, and a little over 400,000 Gold. Exclamation mark successful.
Well this experience was interesting as a sub-portion of the whole event, it also kind of reinforced a previous notion about Spelunky that I never got around to entertaining in the form of a Cblog. It can -- potentially -- become hella e-sports. Yeah that was a sentence that I uttered. As I was playing, people passing by were commenting rather openly about things like what level I was on, or certain monsters, or the mechanics of the game and one dude even asked me if I was eggplant running. Lmao. But the most interesting development was that a sort of “cheering section” formed behind me. Though it was mostly people waiting to play, which I felt like a huge dick about hogging the setup, they were very interested in watching whether I would succeed or not. There was a clap. I got a handshake from some of the fellow Spelunky enthusiasts and I passed the controller up. It was pretty cool actually and this was way unlike beating Spelunky at home by yourself; it felt more gratifying (this must be what EVO feels like?) than a comparatively lonely at home victory.
So this comes back to a thought I had, Spelunky should go e-sports. We already have a Daily Challenge mode so in some respect there already is competitive play, but I mean really there should be a mode that encourages head to head play or even tournaments -- not the mp modes, fun as they are -- all that e-sports jazz. I was thinking, two players go head to head, start with additional bombs, maybe 20 and also 15 ropes, a selection of items and they start playing the same generated levels, but they start already in hell. And instead of the 4 stage system, they play 10 levels then go on to fight like King Yama -- or maybe even more bosses or multiple bosses at once -- since Hell is about as intense as this game gets and is competitive level in pacing and difficulty. Maybe also you can’t die to keep progression going. For instance a death could cost you 50,000 Gold but you get to respawn and keep going? I’m in love with this idea and my experience at IndieCade this past Saturday only reinforced enthusiasm for the idea tenfold.
At this time, I will go over some of the games that I had a chance to sit down and play. My thoughts, early impressions, etc. Starting with Passage.
I came into the demo knowing nothing about the game, but boy was this game an experience. It’s so simple but interesting as hell because of how conceptual it is. The setup at the show had a projector configured to a very wide display on the wall so that you can only see the size of the character and a little space above and below them, which is probably how the game was made. You walk freely and over time your character ages and goes through life events. You get a wife, lose your hair, walk slower, etc. You have to find chests, which also increase your age, for what reason I didn’t know but they helped me reach age 600 when I looked fit as a fiddle.
Like with Spelunky, this was one of the games that I planned ahead to play at the event. I was amped to try this game out finally after hearing so much about it that stretches all the back to last year’s PAX East. I know it is already available for PC, but not for PS4 users. Well the exhibition area on the first floor gave a demo of Octodad so I had to get my eight hands on it.
It seems difficult to imagine walking an octopus and is then even harder to picture controlling an octopus on a console controller, but it was pretty fluid. I was even able to run around with him at my will. All in all, the fish out of water protagonist feels like navigating a slinky, it’s fun. The demo was short and humorous but it did have some issue that hopefully will get worked out. At one point the player is tasked with mowing the lawn and weeding the garden -- typical octopus activities, y’know -- and going into the garden, where flower petals fall off and float down like the gravity whores they are, caused ugly drops in framerate. The game also really doesn’t look too appealing graphically but, in an indie game, graphics are not a deal breaker for me. The novelty of Octodad has me hooked. I’m looking forward to when Octodad comes home for the PS4.
Here’s another game that I knew absolutely nothing of before IndieCade. I got to try out Towerfall Ascension -- there were actually two demo setups for this game -- and I found my rebound for Spelunky. It plays like a mix between Spelunky and Samurai Gunn/Foiled. It will be on the PS4 as well, which is why they had a second demo for the game, in the Playstation area. Definitely putting a pin in this one till its release.
Murasaki Baby was revealed either at E3 or TGS for the Playstation Vita and immediately Limbo came to mind. Well they had a demo for it at IndieCade, it definitely does play like Limbo, only the atmosphere isn’t bleaker than a stack of Poe collectives. I realized partway through my game time with Murasaki Baby that the art style is reminiscent of Beetlejuice. The almost skeletal design of the character, the creepy -- but not melancholy -- environment, the combination of black, red and bright green, and the Don’t Starve-esque art style -- which another attendee and his wife pointed out to me -- scream the 90’s cartoon show at me.
This one gets a pin too.
The Best of the Best in Show?
So what game did I find to be the best in show at this year’s IndieCade? Well that honor goes to Joshua DeBonis and Nikita Mikros' Killer Queen Arcade, a game that unfortunately not only do I not know much about but one that I didn’t get to try at the event. And let me just say, they went all out on this game by creating two of the raddest looking arcade cabinets for one hell of a setup.
So how in the green fuck can I give “best in show” to a game that I’m ignorant of and I didn’t even play? Well there’s the answer, yet! I didn’t get to play it because it was just swarmed the entire show. the contrasting arcade cabinets and the pretty visuals of the game really attracted me to try Killer Queen Arcade, but there was never an opportunity. If I wasn’t running around taking in the rest of the show I probably could have got my chance after 25 minutes of waiting, but I never did. Still I wanted to and I surely missed out but from start to end that area was busy. I think they were even having tournaments on those cabinets, because the sounds of hype were strongly echoing throughout the rest of the comparatively dead -- at times -- third floor.
I even took a photo of the area at one point (below) when most of the third floor was empty, yet the crowd at the KQA area was still bumpin’. In fact, about ten minutes before they closed the third floor for the day, there was still yet a crowd participating and having a good time with this game. Amazing, this game deserves best in show for beating 24 other great indie titles by stealing the spotlight. Even Minecraft with the largest display and most space had less going on for it. Wow.
I’ve been dropping the term e-sports throughout this article with an impact like I’ve taken the world’s strongest stool hardener on the family night out to Denny’s. Indie & E-sports, you say? Well yeah, these two concepts have apparently been fooling around recently and IndieCade had a turkey baster sized sample of this at the event.
Back to that 2nd floor, the games presented were, Foiled (Unblanched Peanuts), Particle Mace (Andy Wallace), Stikbold (Reign Bros.), LAZA KNITEZ (Glitchnap), and the guide is telling me the following were Sunday’s installments: Gunsport, Anodyne*, Videoball and Nidhogg. Out of the ones I was around for however, the most entertaining was Foiled, followed by Stikbold and Particle Mace and I found LAZA to be the least entertaining. However, all of these games during competitive play shined like a car in the sun after the pigeon rapture. They were all equally hype. And during the late night festivities, the finals for these titles took place in a theater style panel room (above). The hype reached a lethal level. And as someone who has been to EVO, the world’s biggest fighting game tournament and an epicenter of hype, I can tell you that these games have the potential to be just as hype as EVO or even more so, event and room size allowing. So who knew that e-sports, on the catalog spelled eSports, and Indie games could mix so damn well?
*The paragraph on Anodyne has the subtitle “100% Speedrun”
I’m going to wrap this blog up now, as this is way too long and if anyone does end up reading this you have either the enthusiasm or the bullshit rambling tolerance of a God and I applaud you.
IndieCade was simply… amazing. Going in, I had no idea that it would have been this good. I didn’t get a chance to write about the 7pm - 10pm night festivities, called “Night Games”, but we played an assortment of physical games as well as some more video games they brought out to make up for closing the 3rd floor and exhibition area. This is when it got pretty sick, it was kind of like an Art gallery opening party, as the comedy of Hannibal Burress has informed me. Free booze and snacks and a chill atmosphere.
Unfortunately, there was really no swag or merch at this show, which was a question I had posed prior to my attendance, but that is the smallest of complaints after having gone to this event. Maybe next year they could at least make some IndieCade t-shirts or patches, but if they don’t it’s all the same to me.
I couldn't find the Ouya and hadn't the time to try an Oculus VR headset.
There was even a group playing video game inspired music in the lobby. I did not get enough time to listen to their jam but I support the inclusion of music regardless. I joked with some people that it was like a mini-MAGfest, that IndieCade really has everything. They are called, Videri String Quartet. Free endorsement, courtesy of them being awesome!
IndieCade, was full of the nicest people ever. I mean it. Generally I’ve run into at least one jerkoff at every major event I’ve gone to, but this con broke that chain. The staff were super nice about taking pictures and just talking about crap, my Spelunky bros were awesome, some dude talked to me about the game pickpocket and we had a friendly stare down over it, there were only good interactions all around. So I just want to say, if there is any chance that you can make it to IGF or IndieCade, go. Indie conventions are the best game shows out there, you will have the best time. And don’t forget to support the indies. And once again I’m sorry for rambling on like this. Thanks for reading!
IndieCade was awesome. Octodad works well on PS4. I beat Spelunky for the second time. Indie and e-sports mix well. Great vibes at this event, kind of like an art gallery opening. No swag, but free booze and snacks. Definitely a must go for anyone who gets a chance to. Support the indies!
So I finished watching Communitoid #29 and Radio D #30 - there was a name change for those not in the know - and the usual feeling I get listening to this podcast where I really wish I could chime in peaked. I think Conor brought up Lone Survivor for like the third time and the recording had to be halted so that I can take a second to think out whatever it is that came to my head.
It is really interesting the way this played out, in the 29th episode, Conor mentioned that Braid gave him a heavy case of the feels during a scene with a girl that involves a deeper meaning, at least to him. Well all the talk of Lone Survivor and how great it is made me realize that that game is to me, what Braid is to Conor. Allow me to explain.
If you read my blog post about depression, you'll know that depression is something I take very seriously and had I not chosen my path in life, would totally be a psych major just to study depression because of how badly a cure needs to be found. It's so horrifying yet has a certain fascination about it.
Well what exactly is Lone Survivor about? To me, it's depression. Forget the horror, forget the zombies, Lone Survivor is a psychological roller coaster. This is a game all about being alone in a scary world and trying to, well, survive. Your character's mental health plays a large role in the game, which is common in horror titles but here it has more oomph. (What I mean is that I'm more invested in Lone Survivor, so his mental health is more important to me. Now with other horror games where I'm not so invested in the character I'm more concerned with how freaked out the real me is getting, rather than caring about the mental health of the protagonist. This is surely because of my empathy).
Getting a bit sidetracked here. Lone Survivor is very accurate in it's depiction of depression because of the little things. When not traversing the game world, Lone Survivor is cooking artsy meals, eating multi-colored jelly candies in a medicinal fashion, playing games, collecting comics, talking to plants (I mean Chuck), talking to his cat doll, etc. These are all extras in the game that have been placed to make a playthrough unique or maybe to just give some stuff for the player to search for. Either way, it's the little stuff here that takes your mind off of how messed up your situation is, the unholy beings walking the earth and the likely chance of dying.
It's actually a parallel to what's happening in the game that makes you understand what Lone Survivor must be going through which brings back the whole thing about depression and enjoying the little things: doing these little things is a break from the horror elements of the game, since music is calmer and monsters aren't around, this is when the player takes a break from being scared and this is also when Lone survivor takes a mental R&R. In a way, this is exactly what life can be when suffering from depression. A person can be down and then brought back up by stuff that's otherwise taken for granted: a nice meal, a cozy bed or visiting nature. Jasper Byrne really captured this concept well, I'd imagine intentionally but this is unclear.
I love the down time in Lone Survivor, and I love Lone Survivor. It was pretty cool to get all of this out of two episodes of Communitoid - err Radio Destructoid - that much like Conor and Braid, I was able to connect with a video game on a more personal level. It also led me to serious fandom for the game; I was trying to get everyone I know to play it, I cosplayed as Lone Survivor because there was a bit of a resemblance there - there are photos and possibly even video of a shamefully ignorant participation in a Just Dance competition at a certain New York convention - I got the soundtrack on my mp3 device, recorded gameplay to post on YouTube and then and even now I would still love to meet Jasper Byrne and maybe even interview the dude about his game. Oh and it has inspired me to make a video game, write for one.. maybe one day. Who the hell knows, would be cool though right?
As the title hints, I've never been to this event before but will be at this years. I'm sure it'll be great, and it's right up my alley on the count of my new found attraction towards indie games. But I figured, why not see if there are any people out there who feel like human beings (unnecessary hedberg reference) and could give me an idea of what I should be looking out for.
So to anyone who either has gone to IndieCade East at least once or is a weathered veteran of 5 years+ (in this case 4) could you answer any of the following questions?
-Which day is the best to go? I chose Saturday because of work/school.
-The best/worst part of the event?
-Any interesting panels?
-How's the free shit/merchandise? Is there a good selection? How big of an issue is stuff running out of stock?
-Is the location (Museum of the Moving Image) hard to get around, when inside?
That's all, I'd really hate to pester anyone too much, though I can't guarantee I won't ask more questions in response to comments. For anyone that helps thanks, everyone else, thank you too anyway. And have some Hedberg, because I brought him up.
PS Expect a post talking about my experience there some time soon after the show. I love writing about events.