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New video games are adorable

One review of the Independent Games Festival finalists essentially came up with this conclusion: they are so basic they are ingenious. 

The Independent Games Festival was established in 1998 “to encourage innovation in game development and to recognize the best independent game developers,” somewhat in the same vein as the Sundance Film Festival, but for gamers. The winners are presented with their awards every year at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco.

This year’s games featurea few game with the traditional killing of aliens and dictators, and maybe some alien dictators, but many of the games also have a different feel and look to them than has been the norm for the past ten years or so. For one thing, many of them have a more rudimentary look, either looking more like the original Mario Bros. or even a kindergartener’s drawings. Games like Osmos, Dyson, PixelJunk Eden, and others are more graceful in its appearance, but is one of the most elemental games, almost like Spore, and probably inspired by the huge excitement surrounding the game’s release. A lot of the games focus on exploration and puzzle-solving rather than fighting, and are not so keen on sleight of hand but sleight of mind. There is even one that basically involves a grandma going for a walk in the park.

A few of the games have free previews or even full downloads for free.



Beth Kelley is an applied & digital anthropologist with an overall interest in how people engage with and are impacted by their environments and vice versa. This has manifested itself in many ways, by looking at creativity, playful spaces, built environments, and environmental enrichment, sustainability, design research, and integrative and collaborative models of learning such as through play and hands-on learning.