If you’ve ever been curious about the gaming scene in NYC, perhaps even wondering to yourself if such a thing exists when the words “game development” are typically followed by “California” or “Texas,” the NYC Games Forum is an excellent overview of the incredibly varied and rich development happening here. I never know what I’m going to see when I show up, but am always impressed by the level of creativity, intelligence and commitment this community exhibits. Who needs supermodel good looks or tacos not served out of a truck when you’ve got games like:
Nika, design by Joshua Raab and art by Chris Hernandez, is a board game about Greek war for 2-4 players. Players on opposite sides of the board act as allies and move their pieces to gain territory and take out opponents. The game just won the 2013 ION award for strategy, congratulations, and there is some talk of a digital version in the future.
Bout, by Picnic, is a photo game with rules loosely based on Apples to Apples. A player picks a theme, such as “The face I made when I realized snakes were on the plane,” and sends a request to their friends for a photo. They then judge the photos and pick a winner. The game is sure to be a huge hit with Instagram and Cards Against Humanity lovers and is currently available on the App Store.
Just Sing It, by AnyoneGame, is a Karaoke game where players record themselves singing a song, modify it with different voice filters and then send it to a friend or total stranger and challenge them to guess what it is. The demo was particularly memorable because the male presenter sang/spoke a bit of “Ain’t It Funny” by Jennifer Lopez and then made it sound like a hamster. It’s currently available in the App Store.
Whiskers, by Jon Stokes, is a four-player game involving square kittens with mustaches that battle for pellets that make them grow in size, but there are also bombs that blow them up to make them shrink. Jon had demoed the project some months earlier and was returning to do a retrospective on what he’d learned in the development process. One of his best pieces of advice was to keep the project personal because it helps you stay focused. All of his cat characters are named after grandparents and the art is based on a tattoo he has that his brother drew. The game is currently available for iPad.
Tossers, by Vikram Subramanian and Ben Johnson, is a game for 1-4 players where you grab your opponents and throw them into a center ring to knock out marbles and score points. Players are constantly running towards and then away from each other so as not to get thrown themselves, so it’s very fast paced and quite fun to watch. They mentioned that they hope to reach out to the local art community to re-skin the game in different styles, “Imagining the game as a gallery space.” It’s the first game built for Ouya to demo at the NY Games Meetup.
Spell or Die, by Nikhil Sinha, is a word game inspired by Scrabble with the addition of traps, such as bombs, mines and nukes, that players can set on the board to explode when opponents try to lay down a tile. Players pick up points for whatever opponent tiles they sabotage, so there are nice dual layers of strategy in building and breaking things…and selling explosions is an excellent monetization tactic. The game is currently available on Facebook.
Tin Man Can, by RedCandy Games and published by Chillingo, is a side-scroller about a tin robot who crash lands on a planet and must journey through a series of different worlds to find his way home. The game features lush graphics and a beautifully mellow soundtrack that adds great ambiance. It’s currently available in the App Store.
The night ended with sponsor GoPrezzo hosting a voting for best game of the night, congratulations to Bout, and the announcement of the NYC Gaming Fellowship Program. It’s a new initiative to let indie developers rent monthly desk space in the offices of larger game companies in the area in the hopes of creating a more interconnected gaming community. Game developers, designers and creatives are encouraged to apply, and at $200 a month it’s an affordable program by NYC standards. I’m very excited to see the projects and initiatives that are sure to emerge from this cross-pollination of talent.