Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Game Designers Are Really Nice People...

That age old aphorism 'never meet your heroes' has no place in the overtly humble world of the video game industry, and no event is more acutely aware of this than Nottingham's GameCity. A festival I'm sure whose feelings would be hurt if you didn't want to meet them. Now in its sixth year GameCity is the world's only festival to celebrate video game culture by provoking thought and discussion on what video game experiences mean to their creators and audiences alike.

As the ever enthusiastic and witty festival creator Iain Simons introduced this year's event to the select audience gathered in the lavishly turned out marquee on Nottingham's Old Market Square, he was happy to point out no less than three influential game designers, all stood within metres from myself, mingling within the crowd, with none of the pomp or self importance that is the usual reserve of more established creative industries. First onto the stage was Robin Hunicke producer of ThatGameCompany's PSN hit Flower and soon to be released Journey, her sentiments echoing those of the festival. Her altruistic vision: to inspire new generations of game designers, citing that 'what is important are not the events of GameCity 14, or GameCity 20, but of GameCity 1000' and the game designers that will be influenced by the endeavours of the festival far into the future, seeing GameCity as the catalyst to mould new thinking and fresh perspectives for future generations. And if the previewed trailer of her latest game Journey was anything to go by, Hunicke and ThatGameCompany are sure to succeed: 

Back on the stage and Iain Simons was quick to introduce the second of the evening's modest luminaries, Richard Lemarchand Co Lead Designer on Unchartered 3: Drake's Deception from Santa Monica based developers Naughty Dog. And while Lemarchand didn't take to the stage he did take the reception to his latest endeavour with considerable grace, no mean feat when we're talking about one of the biggest blockbuster franchises to grace the Playstation 3:

The third and final designer was the ever popular and wonderfully celebrated Eric Chahi, creator of Another World, Heart of Darkness and the recently released From Dust for Xbox Live. Eric has been invited to curate the first day of the festival beginning his 'boot cycle' tomorrow with events as far reaching as music workshops involving the Tenori-On, a visual instrument developed by Elektroplankton creator Toshio Iwai. A 60 person dinner for which Eric has created the menu and will discuss his gaming career throughout and an evening of game inspired music with Nottingham musician Exile promising to provide Wii remote controlled visuals and video game sampled beats, bloops and beeps.

After the introductory speeches and the declaration of the event being officially opened (in which Iain Simons literally fell to his knees to present Eric Chahi with the key to the festival) there was a chance for the fans to meet the makers, and the makers to meet the fans, continuing that fine tradition, nay, mission statement of GameCity as a platform for discussion about the things we hold dear about our favourite pass time, or in my case just a chat about the weather and the local pubs in Nottingham with Eric Chahi, but I must have made some kind of impression on him as he signed my game with the following inscription:

Translation: For Matt, with friendship, Eric.

What a thoroughly nice bloke.

GameCity 6 runs from the the 26th to the 29th of October in venues throughout Nottingham City. Check the Official schedule for details.

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