Indie games festival celebrates fourth year

Boston FIG 2014
Boston FIG 2014

The annual Boston Festival of Indie Games is one of September’s great family-friendly treats. From digital to tabletop board games, more than 3,000 attendees are expected to arrive on MIT’s campus on Saturday. Now in its fourth year, the show celebrates independent games and gamers in a big way.

“We have over 100 games at the festival this year – 48 in our tabletop showcase, 54 in our digital showcase, and even more indie exhibitors and sponsor games,” said Boston FIG co-founder and executive producer Caroline Murphy.

Indie games, be they digital or tabletop, are typically made by small development teams or individuals with a focus on creativity and innovation. Over the last decade, indie gaming has grown substantially as game development has been democratized by new development tools, distribution channels, and business models.

“To me, what’s unique about Boston FIG is that it not only taps into the rich indie developer culture of this city, but also draws studios and gamers from all over to show off their games and play together,” said local developer Chris Foster of Foster and Family Games. “This is my third year at the show and I can’t wait to bring my 6-year-old son Ian so he can see some of the latest games and so he can show off his own game – “Loose Nozzles!”

Attendees will have a chance to meet developers and play games ranging across genres from side-scrollers and virtual reality to puzzlers and cards. They will also be able to choose both a tabletop and digital game of their choice that will receive the Audience Choice Award. Votes will be cast by ballot and the winners will be announced at the Figgy Awards Ceremony after the exhibition hall closes.

“I’m excited about the Figgies! This year we put a ton of effort into refining our curation process and I think that will really show with our awards presentation,” said Murphy.

In addition to all the playable games, there will be a video game music performance by the Videri String Quartet and a keynote speech by Susan Gold, founder and president of the Global Game Jam as well as professor of practice at Northeastern University.

Though many of the showcase games are made by New England developers, Boston FIG has a national draw with developers from all over involved.

“We are taking part in Boston FIG this year because we are entering the final stages of development of our puzzle game “A Tofu Tail,” said Ryan Brolley of Alchemedium. We want to drum up some awareness and support for it before our Kickstarter and Steam Greenlight campaigns next month and the release of the game early next year. We also had an amazing time meeting people and showing in last year’s BostonFIG showcase. It is a little bit of a trek from Pittsburgh, but well worth it.”

According to Murphy, tickets are available online through Friday and will be sold at the door on Saturday; general admission is $12. Kids 12 and under attend free.

Timothy Loew is the executive director of the Massachusetts Digital Games Institute (MassDiGI) based at Becker College in Worcester.

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