Igfest is an intriguing proposition. Described as an'interesting games festival', Igfest is about creating new and fun ways to use the urban space that surrounds us through the medium of play. It is an attempt to create mass social interaction with innovative games, connecting the city with its people and encouraging us to look at the spaces we see everyday and view them in a new light.
The creators of the festival, Slingshot, want to introduce games to the public as a legitimate artistic endeavor, to be viewed in much the same terms as music or cinema.
It looks absolutely mad, and sounds like a lot of fun. New sports are invented involving giant bouncing balls, and lots of mud. Elaborate Forts are constructed from cardboard boxes. Fireworks flare and powdered paint is everywhere. The whole festival takes place in the Old City area of Bristol from September 5th and lasts for four days.
So, to the main events. Each event is billed as a 'headliner' to be played out in the evening of each day. The first of these is called Cargo. This game is set in a dystopian future where the city is controlled by an artificial intelligence that will either help or hinder teams as they try and cross the city. Players receive instructions via their mobiles, which sounds like a nice way to ramp up the networked feel the creators are going for here. The final aim of the game is not clear from what I could ascertain, but this I'm sure is only designed to increase the mystery and secrets behind Cargo.
Also debuting this year is a game entitled Incitement. This appears to be a well-timed parable about corruption, wealth, inequality, greed and violence. It could well be seen as a reaction to the riots that occurred in Bristol and consumed a large portion of the country last year. In essence it is a game of stealth, which pits teams or ‘cells’ against each other and the ‘authority’. Expect an atmosphere of subterfuge and deception, where to remain anonymous is the easiest way to remain in the game.
The final headliner is one you may have heard of. Last year I read an article in the Guardian about urban gaming, and one game in particular that was attracting attention. At the time I remember thinking that it was one of the coolest things I’d seen for a long time. The game in question is called 2.8 Hours Later. Taking its name from the Danny Boyle film 28 Days Later, anyone who is familiar with that film will understand the main theme of this game, Zombies. Starting at a secret location, the main and relatively simple aim is to make it to the survivors’ camp. Along the way players will need to find pockets of survivors hidden in some classic horror film style locations. I am not entirely sure where these locations are but I have seen pictures of zombies running through the Galleries in Broadmead, so players should be in for a treat! The organisers stress that this game is high octane and is both physically and psychological challenging, so you will need to get your running shoes on, but being chased down by a horde of blood thirsty zombies is probably enough to get most people moving.
To top it all off, Igfest will be running a fringe day, where anyone with enough imagination can bring their own games to the public in a carnival-esque environment.
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