You're Wrong

You're Wrong
The Indie Space/Time Continuum

Jason Della Rocca | 10 Aug 2010 12:32
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Daniel Benmergui, who garnered lots of praise for Today I Die, warns against isolation: "I can say from personal experience that working alone for a long time tends to twist your perception in a not-so-healthy way. At some point, I remember having trouble keeping up with normal conversations in social gatherings, as I kept being distracted by my own thoughts."

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That's why, for example, Hecker leaves the sanctuary of his garage (where he doesn't even allow email to distract him), to participate in "work days" with fellow indies. Sometimes at a coffee shop, sometimes in someone's living room, the work days enable them push each other to be productive - and not just sit around all day surfing the web.

More formally, some indie studios are sharing office space. Nathan Vella was quick to rattle off all the collaborations going on within Toronto's vibrant indie scene. For example, his Capybara studio shares office space with Jon Mak's Queasy Games, (a handful of other studios are just around the block), and how their current game, Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP, is a collaboration among three local indies. Even Purho is in Toronto, having moved all the way from Finland, currently working on a game with fellow indies Michael Todd and Anna Zajaczkowski.

Another great example is the "Game House" in Copenhagen, which is home to several game studios and indies. Partially formed to save on rent, the Game House also amplifies the value of working closely together, sharing knowledge and providing support. This is a concept that Kelley has been pushing recently, dubbed "GameSpaces." During a lecture at FMX in Stuttgart, Kelley encouraged indies to band together and create such GameSpaces, which she defined as "a real (as opposed to virtual) place where people with common interest in games and interactive art can meet, socialize and collaborate. A GameSpace can be viewed as an open community lab, workshop and/or studio where people of diverse backgrounds can come together to share resources and knowledge to build/make games."

Not by coincidence, Kelley suggests that a GameSpace is ideal for enabling indies to take something they create during a 48-hour jam and build upon it over a longer period time (i.e., go deep). In fact, one of the studios in the Game House, Copenhagen Game Productions, did exactly that. Bonded by their intense experience at the Nordic Game Jam, Douglas Wilson, Dajana Dimovska and Lau Korsgaard bootstrapped the studio to further work on the prototypes and ideas that were spawned from the Jam.

But, to Wilson, it was less about the prototypes than the relationships that evolved from the Jam experience: "For me, co-location isn't just a matter of facilitating the development process in an organic way - though that's certainly a big plus. As I see it, game design is just as much about the people making the games as it is about the game itself."

Wilson claims that criticizing the small/fast games that come out of jams is missing the point. That the jams, or more largely the indie "scene," isn't necessarily about games, but about the human relationships that emerge from working on the games.

Or, as Wilson puts it: "My friendships with the people I work with are invaluable. I wouldn't sacrifice those relationships for anything in the world - even a million fucking Braids."

Jason Della Rocca is a jet-setting strategy consultant for the game industry. He plays small (mind)games with his friends via RealityPanic.com.

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