IndieCade 2012: Culver City gets its game on

Oct. 03, 2012 | 3:06 p.m.
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Attendees of IndieCade 2011's Night Games in Culver City. (Elliot Trinidad / IndieCade)

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Attendees play "Johann Sebastian Joust" during IndieCade 2011 in Culver City. (Elliot Trinidad / IndieCade)

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Attendees of IndieCade 2011 in Culver City. (Elliot Trinidad / IndieCade)

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Attendees of IndieCade 2011 in Culver City. (Elliot Trinidad / IndieCade)

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Attendees of IndieCade 2011 in Culver City. (Elliot Trinidad / IndieCade)

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Gameplay during IndieCade 2011 in Culver City. (Elliot Trinidad / IndieCade)

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Attendees of IndieCade 2011 in Culver City. (Elliot Trinidad / IndieCade)

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Gameplay during IndieCade 2011 in Culver City. (Elliot Trinidad / IndieCade)

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Attendees of IndieCade 2011's Big Games in Culver City. (Elliot Trinidad / IndieCade)

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Attendees of IndieCade 2011 in Culver City. (Elliot Trinidad / IndieCade)

Call it the Sundance Film Festival of video games.

IndieCade, which will take over Culver City this weekend, aims to showcase independent developers who, working alone or in small teams with very limited budgets, happen to be creating some of the most innovative video games available. The event, which runs Thursday through Sunday, is designed to help these creators and their projects find an audience and secure distribution, much like film and music festivals do for lesser-known artists.

“IndieCade features hidden gems from around the world. Each year some of these games premiere at the festival, others go on to be the next big hit and many push the envelope,” said Stephanie Barish, IndieCade’s CEO.

The event, in its fifth year as a public festival, includes a professional conference with workshops, speakers and mixers for game developers. But unlike other game conferences, such as E3, IndieCade opens its doors to the public instead of limiting attendance to industry professionals and press. The festival began as part of E3, but spun off as its own entity and has been hosted in Culver City since 2009.

“This year at IndieCade we have opened our arms wide to provide an opportunity for the public to discover new and special games they might not have otherwise seen,” Barish said.

The public events, held Saturday, include the GameWalk (a free arcade where people can play video games and meet their creators), Big Games (large-scale outdoor gameplay) and Night Games (moonlit gameplay in groups and individually). The festival includes a juried game competition, with an awards show hosted by Felicia Day. The nominees list includes 36 games from 10 different countries.

Among the finalists are “Beat Sneak Bandit,” an iOS game in which players must tap rhythmically to sneak past guards and trapdoors; “BlindSide,” which simulates blindness in a monster-filled world; “Hit Me,” a physical game in which two players try to hit a button on each other’s head; “Tengami,” an adventure and puzzle game set in a paper-crafted fairy-tale Japan; “Yamove,” a dance battle game; and dozens more.

Last year’s best in show winner was “Fez,” an XBox game created by Phil Fish. The smart puzzle-and-platform game features a character who thinks his world is two-dimensional until he’s given a magical hat that allows him to perceive a third.

Another hit last year was the physical multi-player “Johann Sebastian Joust,” in which a large group of players use PlayStation Move controllers to respond to musical cues and to each other.

Festival wristbands for the public events are $15 in advance and $20 at the door, or for a family four-pack, $40 in advance and $50 at the door. The GameWalk and Big Games are free.

– Noelene Clark

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